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Alameda charter school staffers’ decision to unionize is receiving national attention. The incoming president of the National Education Association – a national teachers union – is coming to Alameda to shine light on the organizing efforts of staffers at Alameda Community Learning Center and Nea Community Learning Center.

Dozens of Nea Community Learning Center students walked out of classes Tuesday to protest the removal of the school’s leader Friday, eight weeks before the end of the school year.

Community Learning Center Schools Inc.'s Paul Bentz is retiring. Photo by Chris Duffey.

Paul Bentz was a science teacher at Alameda High School when the call went out for five teachers to run a new school-within-a-school at Encinal High.

“I enjoyed what I was doing,” Bentz said. “But I was with 35 kids in class every day all day long, in a room built for 24. I thought, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to do education than this.’”