Another bite at the KIPP charter school/ Baltimore teacher's union dispute

Yesterday I wrote about the (now settled) dispute between Baltimore’s KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter schools and the teacher’s union. One reader responded that it was KIPP teachers themselves who fought to renegotiate the contract. I will assume that’s right, and agree this is information I should have known and included. Certainly it’s no surprise: KIPP’s late days and Saturday and summer classes mean that teachers worked 33% more official hours for 20.5% more pay. Since Maryland is one of relatively few states that require charter school teachers to join the teacher’s union, it’s no surprise that they sought to improve the terms of the contract – or that KIPP, struggling to expand its highly successful urban charter schools, resisted.

I linked yesterday to Jay Mathews’ education blog in the Washington Post. Here’s another blog where he describes a phone conversation with American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten about this dispute. I think his article gives fair treatment to both sides, so I’d encourage readers interested in this to follow this link. Note that the AFT president acknowledges that many of her members oppose KIPP and charter schools in general, and essentially admits to Jay Mathews that she’s walking a fine line on this one. She has a tough job.

The final agreement cut out Saturday classes and cut the school day from 9.5 to 9 hours, while reducing KIPP teachers’ extra pay from 20.5% to 20%. Here are further details, from the Baltimore Sun.

I have a lot of sympathy for teachers who feel that they weren’t adequately rewarded for teaching at a demanding school like KIPP. Still, to me this raises a troubling question . . . which I am going to raise in my next post.

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