If you want to read a real tear-jerker, read this story written for the conservative Philanthropy Roundtable, about whether philanthropists should worry about the inroads that unions are making into the charter sector.

Romy Drucker begins with a story about one of the conservatives’ favorite charter chains, the Noble Network in Chicago. This is the same charter chain that some teachers complained about to NPR, saying it has a “dehumanizing culture,” the same charter chain where teenage girls are told to sit still and bleed through their clothes rather than go to the bathroom without an escort. It is a leader nationally in the “no excuses” charter world, where intensive test prep, strict discipline, and high suspension rates produce results for those willing to accept the demands.

Drucker begins:

“Michael and Tonya Milkie decided to start a charter public high school in Chicago in 1999. They drew on their experience teaching in the city’s toughest public schools, and borrowed bright ideas from America’s top charter-school founders and other savvy managers of social enterprises. As both educators and entrepreneurs, they knew that their autonomy, and ability to make tough decisions flexibly, without bureaucracy or inertia, would be essential to their success.

“They wanted a school where “classrooms are sacred.” They wanted to put their full, unhedged support behind instructors “focused on teaching, and getting better at teaching and reaching the kids who are struggling.” Administrators would be “available and resourceful,” says Tonya, and focused on helping the teachers on the front line solve classroom problems.

“In Noble Street College Prep, they set out to create a school culture centered on student results—not the adult preferences, employee desires, neighborhood issues, political burdens, and other subjects that distract administrators of many public schools. Their expectations were high. “We’re constantly saying, ‘How can we have better outcomes for our students?’ ” states Michael. “We have to have great results.”

“With nine out of ten of its disadvantaged students graduating and going to college, and the original school having grown into 17 campuses scattered across Chicago, the Noble Network has hit its high targets. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation named it the top charter network in America in 2015. Noble now educates around 12,000 students annually—89 percent low-income, 98 percent minorities.

“But the more Noble succeeded, the more it sparked consternation at the Chicago Teachers Union—one of America’s most powerful and militant labor groups. The CTU has gone out on strike twice in recent years, shutting down the nation’s third-largest school district for seven days in 2012 and then again for one day in 2016.

“Increasingly, the union drew a bead on the Noble Network. Each new school opening was met with protests. Those Noble could mostly ignore. But then the CTU set out to unionize the charter schools’ teachers.

“In March 2017, a hundred Noble employees organized by activists delivered an open letter to Michael Milkie and the network’s board of directors, expressing an interest in unionizing all 800 of Noble’s educators. “We must be trusted to have a collective voice,” the letter read. Local Democratic politicians endorsed the organizing effort. The campaign was billed in news reports as an attempt to form “the nation’s largest charter teachers union.”

“It’s definitely a big deal,” says Chicago native Peter Cunningham, who worked in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration. “Noble unequivocally has a culture of super hard work and high expectations. It’s hard to establish that culture when you don’t fully control the teachers and the schools.”

Drucker reviews the efforts to unionize and warns:

“Given the vigor with which unions are currently campaigning against Noble, Alliance, and other charter schools, though, it’s hard to imagine a ceasefire. The prudent path for all charter-school leaders and supporters is to prepare for a storm.”