Published On: February 14, 2018


Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Contact: Patrick Shearns, 617-890-9164,
On behalf of the Boston Teachers Union

Teachers and staff at two charter schools join Boston Teachers Union

BOSTON, MA – For the first time, teachers and staff working at independently operated charter schools in the City of Boston have elected to join the Boston Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. Educators at two Roxbury charter schools, operated by City on a Hill (CoaH), presented petitions on February 14th representing an overwhelming majority of teachers and staff who declared their commitment to join the Boston Teachers Union. The schools are considered “Commonwealth” charter schools whose charters are granted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The schools are not operated by the Boston Public School system.

The Boston Teachers Union, with more than 10,000 members including teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and nurses, advocates for the interests of Boston students, parents, and education staff, including those employed by in-district charter schools.

Teachers and staff from the CoaH Circuit Street School and the CoaH Dudley Square School declared overwhelmingly that they are unionizing to advocate for a range of priorities including:

  • Opportunities for teacher leadership
  • Improved teacher retention
  • More input from teachers and staff in decision-making
  • Increased budget transparency
  • Equitable pay

Workers at the CoaH schools believe their union membership will also help them advocate to maintain their unique school culture and small class sizes.

“I have taught at City on a Hill Dudley Square since the school opened in 2013, and for a year at City on a Hill Circuit Street before that. We need a union at CoaH Dudley Square to help us improve teacher retention,” said NeyshaGonzalez, a Head Spanish Teacher at the Dudley Square School. “Reduced turnover will help to maintain a supportive environment for both teachers and students.”

“After years of decisions that affect teachers and students at City on a Hill being made without teachers’ input, we need a union to ensure our voices are heard. Organizing together, through our union, is the best way to advocate first for the needs of our students, and for our own needs as urban educators,” said Donald “Max” McCullough III, Lead History Teacher at the Circuit School.

The organizing effort began before the start of the school year when a group of CoaH educators reached out to the Boston Teachers Union. The campaign culminated with teachers from each school presenting their decision to their respective school administrators after school on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. The CoaH educators have requested that school officials begin collective bargaining negotiations with the teachers by the end of March.

“As an alum of City on a Hill, and now as a staff member, I feel it is time to build a school community where teachers have their voice heard,” said Abobomi Docanto, a Paraprofessional at the Dudley Square School and a City on a Hill alumnus. “As a student, I had many different teachers and the revolving door wasn’t fair for me, and it isn’t fair for our students now. Forming a union will provide us with a real way to attract and retain the quality staff our students deserve.”

“Boston educators tirelessly advocate for their students, and all Boston educators deserve the support of an organization that will support them and the work they do. We are proud to welcome the teachers and staff from City on a Hill charter schools into our union,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union. Tang was recently elected BTU President, assuming the office in June of 2017. “Our priority is creating exceptional and successful learning experiences for all students. That means improving the working conditions of all educators, including those working at charter schools funded by public taxpayer dollars, to reduce turnover and sustain stable learning environments for students. It means advocating for full investment in public education and ensuring that all schools, including charter schools, stay true to the interests of the public good. A common bond among all teachers, whether we work in district or charter schools, is that we all want to see our students thrive.”

The City on a Hill Foundation Board of Directors includes multiple American-based financial executives from MFS Investment Management, which had $448.7 billion in assets under management as of April 30, 2017, according to The original CoaH school was founded in 1995 at the YMCA on Huntington Avenue in downtown Boston.CoaH was among the first charter schools to open in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Teacher leadership was a founding principal of the CoaH mission and original charter.

# # #

The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers, retirees and other education professionals including nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and related service providers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people and their children.

Share This Story!