In a news feature in our Oct. 28 issue ("How far will a charter school go to stop a staff from unionizing?"), investigative reporter Allie Gross examined the difficulties teachers at Detroit's University YES Academy had in forming a union. Reader "Better Schools" took issue with Gross not disclosing her personal history with charter schools:
Readers should know that the author of this article is a former charter school teacher — a very disgruntled one — who started an anti-charter website and has openly campaigned against them. It's borderline unethical that the Metro Times didn't include that disclaimer anywhere in this article. Google "Allie Gross" and you'll see her whole story out there. She's free to push her agenda, but readers should know what that agenda is — and that the Metro Times is complicit in helping her.
The teachers at any charter school in Michigan are free to form a union if they want. There's no law against it. The fact that so few of them have unionized tells you everything you need to know. Unions help union bosses. They don't help teachers.
Gross asked that we printed her response:
Thank you so much for commenting, perspectives from my readers are always welcome.
I just wanted to clarify a few things. Detroit Charter Data is a website I created in 2014 with grants from the Awesome Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation. It is far from an anti-charter website/campaign, it is a Freedom of Information Act generator and document database aiming to provide more accountability for charter schools (always a good thing) and ideally make them, as you would say, "better schools."
The site was started after I sent in FOIA requests to the charter school I worked at (not disgruntled, just wanted to learn more — which all teachers, parents, and members of the community should do) and found the process really laborious. I created the website for two reasons:
1. To keep charter schools and their authorizers accountable
2. To encourage the public to take control of their experiences (i.e. schooling) and demand the data and decisions affecting their youth
As the website states on its "About" page: "This site is not an indictment of charter schools or an attempt to prove them inadequate. Rather we hope to bridge some gaps that currently exist in providing accountability, transparency, and coherence around these schools."
Regarding your last point, "teachers at any charter school in Michigan are free to form a union if they want. There's no law against it. The fact that so few of them have unionized tells you everything you need to know." I recommend reading the article.
Ultimately, I appreciate your response. The education debate is a complex one that only benefits from dialogue. I just wish you read my article (or Googled me?) a little more closely before commenting.
Flint water follies
In the same issue, reporter Curt Guyette took a look at the problems that led to the ongoing investigation into Flint's lead-poisoned drinking water ("Are Flint's lead problems just incompetence or something worse?"). Reader "NZT60" commented:
As a longtime Flint resident who has been watching all this BS about our water with some amusement at first and later horror, I must say that it looks like there was massive incompetence at the state level and then an attempt at covering it up. It also seems that folks at the water department in Flint are at the least incompetent.
Heads should roll at MDEQ, or at least people should be fired. Starting with Mr. Wyant — but that won't happen as he seems to be a pal of the governor.
I think the EPA should do a thorough investigation of what happened and turn the results over to the Department of Justice for review and prosecution. I doubt anyone at the local or state level will actually do anything about the issue.
It would be remiss to not point out that our Oct. 21 Halloween cover, shot by Miss Shela, featured reveler Aimee Funk at Detroit's Theatre Bizarre. Thanks, all!