CLEVELAND—Charter school teachers and intervention specialists at Summit Academy Community School – Parma look forward to bargaining a first contract after voting for union representation today.
Summit Academy Community School – Parma teachers and intervention specialists voted 18-8 to join the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS), the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, their national affiliate.
Educators will now negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that improves resources for students and ensures educators have a voice in school decision-making. A key factor in their wanting to form a union was securing the resources necessary to adapt instruction to fit the needs of all their students.
Teachers and intervention specialists started organizing to form a union in October, advocating for better working conditions, more teacher influence in decision-making, and a high quality education for their students. These professionals specialize in the education of “alternative learners,” or students with social and learning disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.
The Summit Academy Community School – Parma teachers and intervention specialists join their union colleagues at seven charter schools in the Cleveland metro area who also elected to join Cleveland ACTS.
Summit Academy Community School – Parma teachers and intervention specialists are excited about new opportunities with their union and school.
Kelly Granda, an art teacher of 15 years, said: “Our staff is hopeful, optimistic, and re-energized as we plan for the future at Summit Academy Community School – Parma. This process has given me hope that we will be able to retain high quality teachers for our students.”
Heather Sedlak, an intervention specialist of two years, said: “The experience of forming a union has allowed us to become closer as a staff and made me feel more supported as a teacher.”
Matthew Koogler, a physical education teacher of eight years, said: “We are proud that no one does what we do better than us, but there can’t be too many other schools where the students ask their teachers, ‘are you coming back next year?’ This will let us keep giving our all for our students without worrying about whether or not we have a job year after year. We are so excited because better conditions means an even better education for our kids.”
Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said: “We are honored that the charter school teachers and intervention specialists at Summit Academy Community School – Parma have elected to form their union with the Ohio Federation of Teachers. OFT members pride themselves on professionalism and doing all they can to help students explore the world around and beyond them as they learn, grow and succeed.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said: “The teachers and intervention specialists at Summit Academy Community School – Parma face an environment devoid of resources and books for their kids; they were paid low wages, were not compensated for extra duties, and had no prospect of raises. That gave them the impetus to act collectively for themselves and their students, by voting for a union. Unions make possible what would be impossible for workers acting alone. Their students, and their school, will reap the rewards. I am so proud of these teachers and intervention specialists; the AFT will always have their backs — at the bargaining table, and beyond.”
American Federation of Teachers.