In Chicago, the teachers from a system of fifteen charter schools that serve 7,000 mostly Hispanic students have gone on strike. These schools are among the few charters in the country that are unionized.
Well, good luck to them all, but it is only fair to remind these folks of the essentially private and voluntary nature of these schools, and the risk that this entails. In the private sector, parents freely choose. A strike by teachers, just as a strike by widget makers, puts their own employment at risk. Their company’s product has competitors all hoping to see another one of them go belly-up.
Private schools are widget makers, only more so. Their customers have trusted them with care of the most valuable of all goods, to provide them the only service that is compulsory for every family. There is many another supplier waiting to serve these parents and children. Consider the competitive effect that the birth of public charters had upon the Catholic schools serving low income families in the inner-city. Consider the hovering presence of other choosable charters (and traditional public) schools upon these charter schools now under strike.
One possibly positive message of strike like these in Chicago is the clarity bestowed upon the truly private nature of charters. One day that reality may serve a high purpose in litigation before the Supreme Court. The issue will be whether ban of religion in the charters schools of Illinois or any other state prohibits the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment of our federal constitution.
Whether a school that teaches religion would want to put up with any of this very minor general regulation of charters would pose a judgment for its management. My expectation would be that many a faith-based school would find the burden tolerable.