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November 02, 2009
The bickering between the Baltimore Teachers Union and the KIPP charter network involving overtime pay for teachers in two KIPP schools has come to a close.? Education Week reported earlier this week that KIPP officials and the Baltimore Teachers Union were in conflict over the pay that teachers receive for working hours beyond the normal school day.? The BTU has negotiated agreements with the Baltimore city school district outlining provisions on how to compensate teachers who work overtime.? The problem, however, was that KIPP could not afford to pay their teachers the amount outlined in the provision since every teacher works over time every week ? and this is part of what makes their model successful.? Last year KIPP and the BTU negotiated an agreement that allowed them to pay their teachers only 20.5 percent of the overtime amount in the union contract.?
The BTU criticized KIPP for making public threats that they would have to shut down their schools if an agreement could not be reached rather than negotiating their concerns with the union.? KIPP tried to bypass the union through lobbying the state legislature to amend existing laws involving teaching contracts. The BTU and KIPP recently have come to a ten-year agreement that will pay teachers 20 percent of the overtime amount outlined in the union contract. Jay Matthews has been closely following the situation on his Class Struggle blog, and he reported that an agreement had been reached on Thursday.
I applaud the BTU and KIPP for ending an argument that never should have started in the first place.? The BTU's resistance to KIPP was nonsensical.? One hundred percent of teachers at the KIPP schools supported the current one-year agreement that reduced the amount of overtime pay that they received. Why would the BTU pick a fight with teachers who are content with their current pay agreement?? It would be different if the teachers at KIPP were unhappy with the lack of overtime pay they receive, but that is not the case.? Unions are supposed to represent employees in disputes with management, not create disputes with those whom they represent.? The BTU took their stand purely out of the principle that teachers at KIPP were having their contracted pay undermined, and that KIPP wanted to continue this practice for ten more years.? They failed, however, to recognize that teachers at KIPP are satisfied with the current system that KIPP officials were looking to extend, and as a result the BTU picked unnecessary battles with those they represent.? Luckily, both the BTU and KIPP came to their senses and came to an agreement that will allow KIPP to remain open beyond this year. Now that the air is clearing between the BTU and KIPP, they can get back to what really matters?improving education outcomes for students.?
- Andrew Proctor, Policy & Research Intern in Fordham's Columbus, Ohio office