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Union, KIPP Dispute Wages, Working Hours in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun has an important story up about a dispute over teachers' pay and working hours in one of its Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools.

In essence, the story examines a conflict between local law and the KIPP culture. In Baltimore, teachers in charter schools must belong to the local collective-bargaining unit. KIPP teachers, though they made about 18 percent more than other teachers, were working enough hours that they were eligible for about 33 percent more than their peers under the terms of the district contract. Now, the Baltimore Teachers Union is demanding that the district pony up with the extra bucks.

On the other hand, the teachers apparently were informed about and agreed to these salaries, and according to KIPP, were satisfied with them. And the BTU has only now fixed on this issue after more or less ignoring it for the past seven years, the paper reported.

Interesting stuff. Although this is a fairly localized story, the subtext here does seem germane. As more charter schools unionize, they will have to confront issues like teachers wages and working hours. Should teachers be paid by the hour and then for overtime, or should they be expected to work as long as they agree to an overall salary? And more generally, how many hours should teachers in challenging environments be expected to work?

The new Green Dot contract in New York provides one possible solution. It requires teachers to work a "professional day" rather than a set number of hours and minutes; they receive salaries that are about 14 percent over those in district public schools.

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