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Baltimore Tentative Contract, Take Two

The Baltimore district and its teachers' union appear poised to announce a second tentative teacher contract, Teacher Beat has learned.

Here's the backstory for you: There was a great deal of excitement earlier this month when Baltimore Superintendent Andres Alonso and Marietta English of the Baltimore Teachers Union unveiled a tentative contract that would have done away with the step-and-lane salary schedule in favor of a new system of paying teachers.

In brief, teachers were to receive raises by collecting "achievement units" for getting good performance evaluations and participating in professional development.

Hailed in some quarters as a landmark proposal, the contract also earned some snarky reaction—teachers could earn some achievement units for serving as a building rep—and the inevitable comparison with the Washington, D.C. contract. (You can read my take here on why such comparisons are a bit misleading). But in all, the contract was pretty well received in the education-policy community.

But it didn't go over well with the teaching corps, who voted down the contract by a 3-to-2 margin. The vote sent the district and union scrambling back to the bargaining table and resulted in a bunch of news stories about a perceived lack of communication between senior union folks and the rank-and-file teachers.

Now, the word on the street from sources is that the district and union have essentially finalized a second (tentative) pact—and that the BTU was essentially shopping it to its unions' building representatives today during a four-hour meeting.

"They had us all over, had us released from school, they fed us an entire meal, chicken, all this stuff, and gave us a gift at the end and sent us off with the 'newly revised' contract," a source told me this afternoon.

There appear not to be many substantial changes to the contract, merely the addition of some clarifying language, the source told me. We'll know for sure when the BTU and the district make the second tentative agreement public.

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