Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and teachers union officials squared off on Beacon Hill Tuesday over a controversial proposal to expand charter schools in Boston.
Menino testified in support of a bill that would allow Boston to create "in-district" charter schools, which would remain under district control, but would allow schools greater latitude in hiring and pay decisions, without being bound by prior union agreements.
"The creation of in-district charter schools will not require a union sign off," Menino said. "I'm not against workers unionizing. I think my track record shows that."
Union representatives guffawed at this statement.
Paul Toner, vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said Menino's proposal would allow the city to unilaterally determine what schools are under-performing and therefore be eligible for charter status.
"Our major concern is that this bill gives far too much power to a small group of people," Toner said. "Under this bill, the City of Boston or any other district can determine what is an under-performing school."
Support for expanding charter schools in Boston is a departure for Menino, who had previously expressed concerns that they would siphon resources from struggling schools.
The schools would receive state funding under the bill, which must be approved by the Legislature.
This program aired on July 21, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.