Teachers unions get a lot of the blame for the declining quality of education in America. So to fight back, the New York City teachers union opened their own charter school to prove they could compete against other, successful charter schools in the city.

Can you guess what happened next?

First it didn’t start well. According to the Wall Street Journal:

From the start the UFT charter suffered from high staff turnover, operational chaos and budget deficits. Student test scores lagged neighboring district and other charter schools. The school repeatedly failed to meet the performance benchmarks established by its charter authorizer, the State University of New York (SUNY).”

Then it got worse. By 2013, the middle school was only meeting one of fifteen measures of success. Student test scores got worse the longer students were at the school. Many dropped out. Despite several loans fro the union to keep the school afloat, it was cited for “poor bookkeeping” and couldn’t even keep track of school books.

The following year, test scores revealed that only 11% of students were proficient in English and 18% were proficient in math.

Compare that to scores at the Harlem Success Academy, a similar (but non-union) charter school, where 59% of students were proficient in English and 92% were proficient in math.

Shockingly, even in the darkest moments at the United Federation of Teachers charter school, the school balked at any assessment of teacher performance that was linked to student performance. In other words, the union protected its members from any real measure of accountability for the students.

The WSJ sums it up nicely:

“The UFT quietly let slip last week that this showcase K-8 charter school is closing after a legacy of failure. [Teachers union chief Randi Weingarten’s] experiment in education of the union, by the union and for the union is a case study in the problems with the status quo of union dominance over American public education.”

What are some real solutions to making sure every child gets a great education? Find resources to think deeper about education reform on our Education page.

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