WASHINGTON—The agreement in principle between KIPP Ujima Village Academy and the Baltimore Teachers Union is the latest example of how schoolchildren win when important decisions are reached through collaboration rather than conflict.
To reach this new 10-year memorandum of understanding, BTU and KIPP recognized that the needs of Baltimore’s students were the priority. Through collective bargaining, both sides were able to agree on terms that will enable KIPP to have the fiscal resources to sustain its operation in Baltimore, while fairly compensating teachers for hours worked, and giving them more voice in decisions that impact their professional careers. These terms are all components that put the students’ needs first.
When stakeholders try to solve disagreements by simply flexing political muscle or promoting their interests to the media, it may get attention, but it won’t improve one school. The success we’ve been seeing in Baltimore City Public Schools is the result of a spirit of teamwork between educators and school administrators. This agreement affirms the effectiveness of collective bargaining as a tool of education reform. The investment in a collaborative negotiation process has paid—and will continue to pay—huge dividends in the form of student achievement and success.
The AFT is happy to have played a role in facilitating this process, and we hope that this agreement can sow the seeds for additional long-term joint efforts to improve public education.