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Instrumentality charter contract

Since 2001, the Milwaukee Public School board has authorized instrumentality chartered schools that it knows will be run by teacher cooperatives. Much of the autonomy for the teacher cooperatives is arranged via the charter contract between the school board and the school. Before the end of collective bargaining in Wisconsin in 2011, teachers in these cooperatives remained employees of the district and members of the union. Schools also had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the district and union local that provided waivers from aspects of the collective bargaining agreement. However, with the end of collective bargaining in the state, these MOUs are no longer necessary.

The charter contracts recognize that schools are run by teacher cooperatives and require that all cooperatives meet a few specific requirements in their administration of the schools and management of the learning programs. Importantly, they also allow for flexibility in the methods the cooperatives use to meet most of the requirements. Teacher cooperatives decide, for example, all curriculum and budget decisions (after the district takes out what it needs for salaries and services). The district hires and fires; the cooperative, selects and (if necessary) de-selects. Teachers who are deselected by the cooperative go back into the district hiring pool.

The cooperatives are not formally organized with the IRS. They are, however, modeled after workers’ cooperatives to create a state-of-mind about the collective way in which teachers work within them to manage schools. The union sees its members get the professional roles they have not been able to win through negotiation or through legislation.

Learn more about the Milwaukee Teacher Cooperatives in Inventory of Teacher Professional Partnerships (p.20), Education|Evolving’s 2006 Profile of Milwaukee Teacher Cooperatives.

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