It is forecasted that many lawsuits will arise as the result of a labor board's ruling on charter schools.
The National Labor Relations Board insists that charter schools are not public schools – but rather private corporations.
This decision now applies only to charter schools in New York and Pennsylvania – after specific disputes involving unionization efforts at charters took place in those states.
Even though only two states are currently affected, Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom director Neal McCluskey says he cannot imagine that there will not be efforts to expand the determination that charter schools are corporations and no longer public schools.
"There have been longstanding union efforts to force unionization on charter schools – and on their faculties – and this is just a part of that," McCluskey informed. "I wouldn't be surprised then if this expands and, in response, charter schools or [the] charter school network sues, goes to court and says this is beyond what the NLRB can do."
According to McCluskey, there are two things going on with this decision.
"One is how you characterize charter schools, and the reality is [that] charter schools are public schools," the school choice advocate points out. "They have to be allowed to exist by a public entity – usually a school district – but it could also be a state board, or in some states it could be a public college or university … but it's a public entity that tells the charter they can exist, and the charter has to follow state standards, state tests, [as] they are public schools."
Therefore, McCluskey calls this a misreading of what charters actually are.
"The second thing that's important is, it is wrong to have a federal entity like the NLRB [telling] a private entity – whether charter schools are private or not – [that it] must work with unions."
The Cato expert says that this should be up to the discretion of the private entity.
"In a country where we have freedom of association, if a school, a private school, a truly private school wants to work with a union, that should be up to the school and to members of the union, and it shouldn't be something that's required by some sort of federal board," McCluskey concluded.