Contract Dispute Puts Baltimore School’s Future In Doubt

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s one of Baltimore’s top-performing middle schools. But a contract battle with the teachers may close KIPP: Ujima Village Academy in Northwest Baltimore.

As Gigi Barnett reports, state lawmakers may soon step in.

While teaching at the charter school isn’t traditional, the school is locked into an old-fashioned battle with the Baltimore Teachers’ Union.

At the center of the issue is a teacher-pay contract that’s about to expire.

“This is about the teachers having the right to work the extra time and deliver the KIPP program,” said Jason Botel, KIPP executive director.

That KIPP program calls on teachers to come early, work later and put in summer school time. The average work day for a KIPP teacher is about 9.5 hours. But they see results: 92 percent of KIPP students receive college acceptance letters and they lead the state in English and math scores.

“It’s just all about the kids. You’re not in it for the money if you’re going to be a teacher,” said Marsha Nowlin, special education teacher.

The teachers’ union is on the other side of the battle. It only agreed to a one-year contract that pays teachers for the overtime, making KIPP teachers some of the city’s highest paid. KIPP wants a longer contract.

Marietta English is the union president. In a written statement to WJZ, she said, “We are willing to negotiate with KIPP and we’ve told them that. Teachers agree to work at charter schools. But it our responsibility to negotiate their wages, working conditions and benefits.”

The school says if a contract agreement isn’t reached with the teachers’ union, the school will close on June 30.

Next week, KIPP teachers, parents and students plan to rally in Annapolis asking lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow charter school teachers to decide their hours.

More from Gigi Barnett
  • vicki


    This is such an important story…please keep it alive in the media!!! These kids deserve and education!

  • Jogar

    Another example of how stupid unions are.Unions are the reason we buy steel from Japan,aren’t competitive in the auto industry,etc,etc.If you work in a union shop and see a pile of trash and pick it up to throw it away,well that’s a big no,no.Gee your doing someone elses job.NO your keeping the place clean and safe.If these teachers want to put in the extra hours TO THE CHIDREN’S ACVANTAGE it should be between nobody but them and the school. Especially in a school that performs as well as this one in an invironment like Baltimore where education is just a word.They had to lower the bar just to get high school students to learn to read above 5th grade level.The teachers union,especially should support these teachers and school. After all they’re doing the best job in the state. Marietta English should be jumping for joy,pointing to them as examples for all teachers,not wielding her position like she’s some education police officer.What a joke,she’ll let the school close and deprive students of the best education possible,just so her position isn’t compromised and she maintains HER power.Abolish all unions.

  • uni7

    Jogar, You are part of the stupid gang buster. You all want cheap until it comes to your wages & personal life. It doesn’t work that way & we will never be a nation of minimum wage coolies sucking up to a….holes like you. The large corporations never reinvested in new equipment to modernize their factories but instead gave out lavish bonuses to all the CEO’s & fat checks to the shareholders. So go suck on a lemon you sour puss.

    • Dave

      Tell that to the GM shareholders who were robbed by the government the unions bought. Unions are no more than a political action group and have been the majority of the top 10 political campaign donors for over 20 years now. We have laws that protect all workers but who protects the taxpayers when the unions are using basically tax dollars to buy the politicians that hold up taxpayers for even more money for unions.

  • Dave

    Unions have become a disgrace and public sector unions are all about the political power they buy with their members dues or tax dollars and use that political influence to hold up the taxpayers for more. Unions aren’t about the middle class or the American family and they only use those phrases when it’s time for taxpayers to pony up more or they don’t get their way. Teachers should be paid for results and when none are shown they should be dismissed. Teachers and taxpayers don’t need a union leader to make either decision.

    • Lily

      What about the a#$hole CEOs who nearly bankrupted this country?!! Where the hell is their accountability?! I am SOOOO sick to death of everyone coming after unions with their pathetic pitchforks! WAKE UP!!! Dave, I would love to know what you do for a living and whether you are being held accountable for things beyond your control! I hope you aren’t in a job where you work a 40 hour week, get sick leave and vacation leave. Because if you do, then you need to quit whining about unions!

  • Reader210

    This report leaves out the fact the teachers in this school were given a 20.5% increase last year to settle a disagreement with the teacher’s union. And the Unions are wondering why they are getting a bad rap.

  • Mike


    I have a well paying job with outstanding benefits. You want to know how I achieved it?? I presented myself to my employer, was hired, and proved my worth to them by doing the job I was hired to do and doing it well.
    I then bargained for my benefits, sick time, vacation time, 401K and parking in a garage near my office downtown. I got everything I asked for and I didn’t need some overpaid union official telling what was best for me.
    If you do the job you were hired to do than you don’t need a union to bargain for you. Speak and think for yourself and don’t settle for what the union thinks it can for you. They are not looking out for anyone except themselves, but go ahead and continue to line their pockets mindlessly with your union dues while I laugh at you making my way to the bank with the paycheck I got for myself

    • queenie

      Mike, come see me when you’re unemployeed or your work has been outsourced. You sound like a man living in la la land or has a senile boss.No matter, it won’t last.

  • Mike

    The only way my work will be outsourced is if we became a union shop and my employer could no longer afford to keep the employees with collectively bargained salaries and benefits.
    I believe you should be awarded on your merits and not received additional benefits/compensation as a whole group based on the demands of a union.

  • Christine Hammond

    Unions have an important role to play in protecting the rights of workers in our capitalist ecomomy, including public sector works like teachers. But teacher’s are not producing widgets — they have the most important responsiblilty in our culture after parents, i.e. educating our youth. Who is looking out for the welfare of the students? Teachers at schools like KIPP Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore are fightiing to give students what they need — a chance in life — and they are winning that fight. Why would other teachers try to undermine that fight? The Baltimore Teacher’s Union, and Marietta English are subverting all that a union is suppose to do in helping/protecting workers so they can do their jobs well.

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