Noble Network of Charter Schools teachers move toward forming a union

By Andrew Pillow

Charter school teachers typically do not belong to unions. However, some teachers in one of the nation’s largest charter school networks are seeking to change that.

Union of Noble Educators teachers announced in an open letter their intention to unionize. The letter outlines the groups desire for teachers to have more say in their jobs and the education of their students:

"We are passionate, committed, professional teachers and staff with diverse experiences in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. We believe in racial, gender, and economic justice. We see our students every day and know they are better served by a lasting staff that can advocate for their schools. To this end, we seek a voice at Noble and beyond.
We want a voice in decisions, stability in our schools and, most importantly, the best possible future for our students. Under current local and national conditions, educators labor to remain in their classrooms while our value is diminished, our capacity drained, and our power constrained. Both students and educators struggle to thrive in climates that prioritize test scores and compliance over creativity and personhood. Our students’ learning conditions are our working conditions. When educators have the real collective power to affect both, we can fulfill our schools’ obligations to all students, their families, and our city. Therefore, we are forming a union to ensure our voice plays an integral role in the success of our students.
We call on our colleagues across our network’s 17 campuses to join with us, the Union of Noble Educators, to build our collective strength.
In order to be able to speak openly, we ask Michael Milkie, the Noble Board of Directors, and Noble Principals to agree to a fair process free of interference as we organize. If educators are trusted, then we must be trusted to have a collective voice.
We look forward to the work ahead to create more sustainable and more just schools for students and communities.
The Union of Noble Educators"

The Charter School network educates about 12,000 students on 17 different campuses and has about 800 teachers and staff. This would make Noble the nation’s largest unionized charter school network.

The move was praised by other union leaders but Noble superintendent, Michael Milkie warned that a union could limit the “flexibility” of the schools.

"In my experience as a former CPS teacher, I believe a restrictive union contract could eliminate the curriculum and flexibility we have to best serve our students' needs." Said Milkie

Read more about the unionizing effort here. (Union of Noble Educators)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.