Skip to Content

Meet NEA’s Charter School Members

Educators in charter schools face many of the same issues public school teachers face, and they know the strength in having a unified voice to advocate for their students' needs. That's why these educators have organized and joined a union!

Jennifer Banks, Greater Brunswick Charter School

Greater Brunswick Charter School is located in New Brunswick, New Jersey and is affiliated with the New Jersey Education Associaiton (NJEA). Jennifer Banks is a 5th Grade teacher at the school.

1. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the environment, and what I mean is the teachers and support staff are very supportive of each other. The teachers bounce ideas off of each another, and don't let people feel like they are by themselves in their positions. We are a community, we help each other and work through challenges in the classroom, with each other. Everyone's door is always open and that includes our administrative staff.

2. What does your union membership mean to you?

I can go to the Union Rep with any of my concerns and it is a safe place to talk. My well-being is looked after. We have access to support from the NJEA, such as advice, lawyers, if needed, and professional development. I'm very thankful for the past two union presidents for providing excellent leadership and I have served as secretary.

3. What is one thing you want people to know about your school?

Our school has hard working, dedicated teachers and staff, who make an impact on the students and the community.


Pamela Frazier, Marion P. Thomas Charter School

Marion P. Thomas Charter School is located in Newark, New Jersey and is affiliated with the New Jersey Education Association. Pamela Frazier is a middle school music teacher at the school and the PAWS (Performing Arts With Syle) Director.

1. What is the best part of your job?

I love the community/village environment among staff. Even though times get rough, we are on a mission to work together to progress our school and our scholars.

2. What does your union membership mean to you?

My membership in the union adds to the community atmosphere. Not only do we fight for what is right but we fellowship together and are committed to build bonds as a family.

3. What is one thing you want people to know about your school?

I want everyone to know our mission statement. I believe as a village we are on a mission to adhere to it. "By every means necessary, our mission is to be a 21st century village; responsive to the needs of students, parents and the Newark community at large, where scholars are college and career ready, globally aware and fully equipped to lead in an evolving society."


Margaret dos Santos, Teaneck Community Charter School

In 2014, 90 percent of the forty-five teachers and education support professionals at Teaneck Community Charter School (TCCS) in Teaneck, New Jersey voted to form a union, including Margaret dos Santos, a Special Education Instructional Aide. The Teaneck Community Charter Education Association is affiliated with the New Jersey Education Association.

1. What is the best part of your job?

Getting to know these children has been the best part of my job. Interacting with them in the classroom, the cafeteria, on the playground and at homework time has helped me to better understand each child not just academically, but also as an individual.

2. What does your union membership mean to you?

Union membership has opened another door of personal growth for me. It's great to be a part of a solid organization which refuses to remain stagnant and continues to change with the times to provide for the needs of its members. All members are offered an opportunity to take an active role to help enlighten, educate and encourage newer members if they choose to do so.

3. What is one thing you want people to know about your school?

There is never a dull moment at this bi-level K to 8 charter school building. The hallways are teaming with students buzzing through the halls. Fifth to eighth grade students are changing classes every 45 minutes. Third and forth graders are moving to their math classes, art  or gym. It's not unusual to observe Kindergartners, first and second graders exchange glances, smiles, hi-fives or hand shakes with the seventh and eighth graders as one group exits for recess and the other goes back to class to finish the second half of the day. These interactions are the seeds that create friendships across the board among our student population at TCCS.


 The Organizing Committee for the Nea and Alameda Community Learning Centers


NEA ACLC United/CTA Organizing Committee members (left to right) Terry Toczynski, Jake Powell and Carrie Blanche

Located in Alameda, California, the Nea and Alameda Community Learning Centers are two charter schools recently organized by the California Teachers Association. We asked the organizing committee for the two schools to answer three questions about working in a charter school. Here's what they have to share:

1. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of working at either of our schools (Nea Community Learning Center or Alameda Community Learning Center) is serving the mission, which is all about creating an environment that empowers learners to take control of their education and become active members of democratic community.

Working in a school of choice means that all members of our school community, whether facilitators, staff, learners or parents, have made the choice to be there. All of our stakeholders are encouraged to contribute in creative ways to our schools. For staff members, that means we are given the green light to develop innovative curriculum and projects.

2. What does your union membership mean to you?

Union membership means a new found feeling of safety and security which comes from having a seat at the table - the bargaining table, that is.

This allows us to focus on doing our jobs rather than worrying about whether or not an administrator will arbitrarily decide to non-renew one of us without cause. It means having the strength and comraderie of millions of teachers and educational support personnel who are standing by our side.

The union has brought talented staff from the California Teachers Association to our team to help us deepen our understanding about the issues that affect us so that our voices are persuasive and articulate. The union means we're not alone, either in our classrooms or in our small school community.

Having the strength of the union at our side means that we can pursue the mission of our schools with vigor and without fear.

3. What is one thing you want people to know about your school?

The success of our two schools are the product of incredibly committed learners, facilitators and parents all showing up and participating in a democratic organization, even when that means not agreeing with each other. Our model of education, which fosters democracy and leadership and has a foundation in project-based learning, is a dynamic and constantly creative endeavor. Our schools are always challenging - whether you're a facilitator or a learner!

- Carrie Blanche, Jake Powell, Heather Dutton, Barry Harris, Cat Crawford, Katie Matheson, Eryn Kjelland, Lynn Kameny and Terry Toczynski, The Organizing Committee for the Nea and Alameda Community Learning Centers

Read more about the organzing work at ACLC and Nea, and how they represent the edge of a movement gaining statewide ground as more and more teachers seek representation in Alameda Magazine.

Connect With Us!

Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon

WHO DO I CONTACT FOR HELP?

NEA members working in charter schools can call 1-844-818-0632 to talk to a NEA respresentative. 


MORE CHARTER NEWS

Read additional charter school stories on EdVotes.org.