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The faculty and staff of three charter schools in Cleveland have ratified a new contract. This action makes them the first organized charter schools with a collectively bargained agreement in their city.

According to officials, the new contract creates a labor-management committee to increase teacher input, guarantees planning time and rewards experienced teachers who commit to the school and advance their own education.

All three schools are managed by “I Can.” The educators are members of the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which is an affiliate of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

Under the contract, I Can commits to allowing other I Can schools in Cleveland to join the union, if educators choose to do so, without intimidation or harassment.

The three schools covered in the contract are the three higher-performing charters in the city and they educate more than 900 students in the Cleveland metropolitan area.

“I Can teachers and staff stood together for the last three years to speak up for greater classroom stability, respect and a true partnership with their school’s administration,” said Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper in a statement. “This contract is a step in the right direction to achieve those goals. The Ohio Federation of Teachers welcomes the new members of the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff to our union. We are a stronger union with the voices of teachers and staff at charter schools.”

“As a union, we’ve focused on reclaiming the promise of public education,” added AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement. “This contract helps do just that by allowing these educators not simply to advocate for the schools their students deserve, but to negotiate the tools and conditions needed to help get there. This contract is historic for the state of Ohio, and these teachers deserve a round of congratulations for wanting the voice to help their students succeed.”

Teachers were quick to express their satisfaction with the deal as well.

“Yesterday, we ratified a strong contract that gives my coworkers and me a voice in making I Can schools better for our students and for educators,” stated second-grade assistant teacher Abi Haren. “This agreement will allow me the freedom and autonomy to speak up for the needs of my students without fearing for my job security.”

“This contract shows the voices of teachers and students have been heard,” added middle school social studies teacher Sean Belveal in a statement. “Our contract will help to reduce turnover and increase stability for our students. I am very excited to see this new partnership between students, teachers and administration come together as we work to close the achievement gap in Cleveland.”