News Story

Five Unionized Public Schools Don't Get Funding Hike, Union Silent

Employees unionized at just five of 300 Michigan charter schools; all excluded from state aid increase

In 2014, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan put out a press release congratulating the local teachers union at Cesar Chavez Academy in Detroit for settling a contract with The Leona Group, the management company that runs this charter school.

And two years later, AFT-Michigan congratulated the same union local in another press release, applauding the ratification of a new labor contract.

Cesar Chavez is one of five charter schools in Michigan whose teachers have been unionized. According to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, there are 300 charter schools in the state.

AFT-Michigan has made no public comment about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s action to exclude those five unionized charter schools from getting a $240 increase in state per-pupil funding, an amount which school districts are getting.

Cesar Chavez has 157 full-time teachers who are represented by The Cesar Chavez Academy Alliance of Charter Teachers Staff. Those teachers may be affected by Whitmer’s line-item veto of a budget provision that authorized the funding increase for charter schools.

Like many of the state’s public charter schools, enrollment at this charter school is predominantly of minority students from low income households.

According to the state records, 97.47% of the school’s 2,291 students are economically disadvantaged and 96.6% are minorities.

Notwithstanding the greater challenges these students face, Cesar Chavez Academy’s four schools in Detroit are among the best public schools in the city. Three of them received an A on the latest report card from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the fourth school received a B. This report card adjusts scores to reflect student socioeconomic backgrounds.

AFT-Michigan did mention Whitmer’s veto of $128 million from the school aid budget in an Oct. 1 newsletter.

“We will keep you updated and provide information as soon as it is available,” is all it stated.

But the union did not mention the veto in an Oct. 7 newsletter. While AFT-Michigan has been very vocal on funding issues that affect all public schools, it has made no comment on the impact of Whitmer’s action to exclude charter schools from the latest increase.

AFT-Michigan didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.