New Orleans charter school board okays union talks

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(New Orleans – May 16, 2014) The board of one of America’s highest performing high schools has agreed to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with teachers. On Thursday night, Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans became the city’s second charter school to embrace the collective voice of their teaching staff by formally recognizing a union.

“This is an encouraging sign that great things can be accomplished when people of good will work together in the best interest of students, teachers and our schools,” said Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan. “Both the faculty and the school board are to be congratulated. Overwhelming majorities of both have embraced a formal relationship with the best interest of their students in clear focus.”

Franklin’s governing board voted 9-1 to negotiate with the school’s chapter of the United Teachers of New Orleans, an LFT affiliate. The vote came several weeks after teachers presented a petition signed by more than 85 percent of the faculty asking for recognition and a collective bargaining agreement.

Larry Carter, President of United Teachers of New Orleans, praised the teachers at Franklin for their courage.  “It can be very intimidating to speak publicly about issues at your school,” he said. “I admire the tenacity and strength the teachers at Franklin demonstrated last evening.”  

A math teacher at the school, Mark Quirk, praised Franklin’s leadership for its decision. “The board’s name is Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education and they lived up to that name,” Quirk said. “We look forward to working with the board and administration to maintain Franklin as the best public high school in the state.”