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Charter Schools Try to Retain Teachers With Mom-Friendly Policies

When second-grade teacher Noelle King arrived for work on a balmy September morning, the moon was still lighting up the gray-blue sky just before 7 a.m.

While the early hour wasn’t unusual for a charter school teacher working long hours, the bundle King had with her was.

Crawling and not yet talking, King’s son, Colin, has been coming to work with her at a Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, charter school in Houston since he was just eight weeks old, spending school days in a brightly decorated classroom filled with plush rugs and cribs, toys and puzzles. As part of an effort to keep its teachers, KIPP—which is among the nation’s largest charter school networks—has joined the slim ranks of employers with on-site daycare for staff members’ children, including Colin, who’s now eight months old.

The charter school movement may be better known for burning out their staffs than for working hard to keep them, but some schools—the KIPP network among them—are trying to stem the tide of departing employees by addressing the needs of their mom (and dad) teachers. They’ve set aside space for daycares and lactation rooms, offered flexible schedules or shorter hours, and even made sure staff members’ kids have priority in competitive lotteries for admission.