New teachers contract doesn't protect KIPP

November 18, 2010

I want to congratulate Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso, the Baltimore Teachers Union and Baltimore's teachers on reaching their new agreement ("City teachers OK landmark pact," Nov. 18).

I also want to clarify that the contract does not give KIPP Baltimore schools the security needed to educate more children.

While the agreement empowers teachers at individual schools to propose to expand the school calendar, it gives the union and city schools administration the power to veto proposals before they go to a vote, and even power to veto proposals that have won teachers' approval. KIPP Ujima Village Academy, which has had one of Baltimore's two highest-performing public middle school programs for five consecutive years, owes its strong results in part to its longer school day and year. Under this contract, KIPP teachers could still be denied the right to implement the extra time.

In addition, the new contract requires that if teachers do successfully opt to expand the calendar, they must be paid "pro rata" for the extra time. While KIPP Baltimore teachers have always received higher total salaries than any other Baltimore teachers with the same qualifications, pro rata compensation for the KIPP calendar is not financially viable.

For these reasons, KIPP Baltimore needs new legislation to protect its educational model. By ensuring that teachers have the right to implement the KIPP program, we can help more of Baltimore's children climb the mountain to and through college.

Jason Botel, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of KIPP Baltimore.

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