Calling the contract’s approach “the inverse of the top-down, improve-or-else philosophy pursued by former mayor Michael Bloomberg,” Anrig writes, “The new organizational practices embedded in the ratified UFT contract emulate strategies that have improved student outcomes, according to mounting research published over the past decade.”
Anrig identifies identify three central pillars, supported by a wealth of research on education, that will benefit students:
Enabling teachers and their union to be formally included in decision-making about most aspects of school operations
Creating opportunities for teachers to receive ongoing advice from peers and other instructional experts, much as athletes are coached on how to improve their performance
Strengthening connections between teachers and parents
“Those changes are intended to build trust among all the stakeholders in public schools, provide teachers with new opportunities to influence decisions beyond the classroom, and create systems for improving the quality of teaching day-in and day-out,” Anrig concludes.
The proposed new teachers’ contract takes landmark steps toward recognizing the expertise of teachers and giving them more of a voice in decision making in their schools and classrooms. For proof that the contract empowers educators, look no further than yesterday’s editorial in the Daily News, which stomps its feet over Mayor de Blasio’s “generosity to the UFT” and “collaboration with the teachers union.”
That editorial joins a chorus of criticism about our proposed contract in the tabloids, which reached its most absurd in the New York Post op-ed that described the agreement as “Satanic.”
Evidently, the idea of a mayor who works collaboratively with teachers, treating them like professionals, is terrifying to the tabloids. The Daily News editorial objects to the proposed contract on the grounds that it gives more job-placement opportunities to ATRs and enables teachers to spend time on training, parent engagement, and, heaven forbid, grading tests.
The Daily News is disappointed that the contract bases teacher evaluations on more than test scores: “As long as a principal likes the way teachers conduct their classes, they will be presumed to get an ‘effective’ rating.” The paper also complains that the contract makes teachers the peer “validators” who review the fairness of teacher ratings.
Diane Ravitch, an acclaimed expert on education and a critic of corporate education reform, praises our proposed new contract on her blog for the opportunities it gives unionized public schools to innovate.
“This agreement should explode many of the myths that corporate education reformers like to spread about teacher unions,” she writes. “It shows that in an environment of trust and respect unions and districts can come together and agree on innovations that make sense for students.”
Ravitch neatly dispenses of Bloomberg’s disastrous contract demands and notes that the new chancellor and mayor, working with union leadership, “were able to come to agreement on a genuinely innovative set of ideas.”
The United Federation of Teachers and New York City leaders on May 1 announced a historic proposed nine-year contract that they said demonstrates the extraordinary progress possible in public schools when a city works in partnership with its educators.
At a City Hall press conference, UFT President Michael Mulgrew called the proposed agreement the “contract for education.”
Mulgrew said that the agreement, which must be ratified by the membership, gives educators the opportunity to do their jobs the way they always wanted to do them. “The solution to great education exists in each and every school right now,” he said. “We just needed to create a platform and an environment that allows them to do what they have dedicated their lives to do, which is helping children learn.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the negotiations represented “a rare opportunity to re-imagine what our schools should look like.”
Under the deal, the more than 100,000 teachers, guidance counselors, nurses and other UFT members in the schools would get an 18 percent pay increase that includes two retroactive increases of 4 percent that have already been paid to other city unions. They will receive a 1 percent pay increase every May for three years beginning in May 2013. In May 2016, they will receive a 1.5 percent raise, followed by 2.5 percent in May 2017 and 3 percent in May 2018. Members would also receive a $1,000 bonus upon ratification.
The proposed agreement covers the period from Nov. 1, 2009 to Oct. 31, 2018.
The city and the UFT have identified a menu of potential significant ways to cut costs on health care while maintaining benefits for city employees. These measures, such as more efficient purchasing of health care services, must be approved by the Municipal Labor Committee.
The tentative agreement addresses two critical priorities for UFT educators: addressing the problems with the teacher evaluation system and reducing unnecessary paperwork.
Teacher evaluations will become simpler and fairer. Evaluations will now be focused on eight of the 22 components of the Danielson Framework for Teaching. The system for rating teachers in non-tested subjects will be fairer. Teacher artifacts will be eliminated from the evaluation process. And, moving forward, fellow educators — rather than third parties — will review the work of a teacher rated ineffective.
Up to 200 schools with a track record of collaboration may be granted flexibility with DOE rules and the UFT contract in order to try new school strategies.
“We have hundreds of great schools all over this city,” Mulgrew said. “We’re telling them it’s okay to experiment, to do things differently.”
The agreement gives educators at each school options to reconfigure their workday — without adding a minute — to create time for meeting with parents, engaging in professional development and doing other professional work.
“It’s not about adding time, but how do you use the time that you have more effectively?” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
New teacher leadership positions paying between $7,500 and $20,000 more per year will give teachers the opportunity to share effective classroom strategies with colleagues.
Fariña said she was most excited about the contract’s emphasis on peer-to-peer professional development and the flexibility that will allow schools and teachers to innovate.
The agreement also fosters parent involvement by carving out time in the work day for educators to engage with parents and increasing the number of parent-teacher conferences.
“In this agreement, parents are treated as the crucial partners they need to be,” de Blasio said.
Mulgrew and city leaders said the contract signals the start of a new era in public education in the nation’s largest city.
After the union’s last contract expired on Oct. 31, 2009, then-Mayor Bloomberg insisted on a pay freeze for teachers and later tried to lay off thousands of educators. Negotiations for a new contract never got off the ground.
“The last five years engendered such frustration — a logjam that seemed so often intractable and so wrong and so unnecessary, with so much rancor, and one that I know the members of the UFT deeply wanted to move past,” the mayor said.
“The teachers and educators in New York City have gone a long time without getting any proper respect,” Mulgrew said. No more, he said. “Teachers now have a fair deal.”
Teachers and staff at three Civitas charter schools overwhelmingly ratified their first contract today, crediting a collaborative negotiations process for achieving the breakthrough agreement.
The three-year collective bargaining agreement at Civitas’ Ralph Ellison Campus, Northtown Academy and Wrightwood Campus is the first of its kind for charter schools in Chicago. The Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff is the union that represents nearly 140 teachers at the three schools.
“This contract puts students first, gives teachers a voice and a seat at the table, and makes parents and the community partners in education,” said Emily Mueller, a high school Spanish teacher at Northtown Academy and chair of the negotiations.
Today, the nation’s preeminent charter school organization, Green Dot Public Schools, and its largest teacher union local, the United Federation of Teachers, signed an innovative and pioneering collective bargaining agreement for Green Dot’s New York City charter school. The contract was approved by the Board of Trustees of the Green Dot school on Monday, and was ratified by the UFT Chapter today.
The 29 page agreement breaks vital new ground, and not simply because it brings together leading forces in the ranks of the charter school movement and teacher unionism. Just as importantly, the contract embodies a new model of labor relations in education, based on a disarmingly simple proposition: that a school which respects, nurtures and supports teacher professionalism in all of its work will provide the best education for students. More »
The UFT and New York City have reached a tentative agreement that will secure pension benefits and end the two days of work before Labor Day, while providing needed savings to the City. The actual agreement, which will be submitted to the Delegate Assembly for its approval, can be read here.
Under this agreement, the pension and health benefits of all UFT members — in service and retiree — remain completely intact. In particular, the agreement preserves the hard-won age 55 retirement pension. After completing ten years of service, future members will pay an additional contribution for these benefits. Effective September 2009, UFT members will no longer have to work the two days before the Labor Day weekend.
“This agreement is a win for everyone,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “We are all very concerned about the heavy losses our pension system has incurred during this economic crisis and the looming cuts for schools. No only does this deal help shore up the city budget with new savings, which will hopefully be used for schools, it also maintains the age 55 retirement benefit that we fought many years to achieve and returns us to the tradition of teachers and students starting school after Labor Day, something that our members, particularly those with families, very much wanted.” More »
If you are an appointed teacher and get sick, the contract allows you to be absent from school for a total of 10 days during the school year. If you have days in your “bank” of unused sick days accumulated from past years, you may take those days off for verifiable illness beyond those 10 days. There is also a provision for “borrowing” sick days if necessary. Of course nobody should apply for any benefit under false pretenses.
This “sick day” allowance is realistic and makes common sense. It is fair though not generous. More »
Just when it seemed the Fordham Foundation might be shifting ever so slightly from its staunchly conservative views (its president, Chester Finn, recently questioned the effectiveness of vouchers) the influential group has swung hard to the right in promoting a laughably reactionary tract on labor union contracts in public education.
It’s not worth reading but it’s worth seeing the cover of the The Leadership Limbo, which has a caricature of UFT Prez Randi Weingarten, dressed as a union thug, forcing former NYC Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew to dance low and backward under a limbo stick. It’s probably actionable. It’s certainly nasty. More »
[Editor’s note: This originally appeared in the New York Times.]
Whether it’s called pay-for-performance, merit pay, or incentive pay, the idea that the way all kids will achieve is to pay one or two “great” teachers a lot more than everyone else in the school is rapidly gaining favor. But in New York City last month, the United Federation of Teachers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a different approach: a groundbreaking, voluntary school-wide bonus program designed to raise student achievement in schools serving our most needy children.
Attempts to change the teacher compensation system are not new. Earlier efforts failed largely because they were imposed on teachers rather than designed with them, and they often used quotas and subjective evaluations to identify deserving recipients. Plans that paid more to individual teachers bred suspicion, secrecy and unhealthy competition in a profession that succeeds when educators share best practices and engage in collective problem solving. More »
[Editor's note: Julia Boyd is a grandparent and parent of 3 public school children and chair of the ACORN education committee.]
The agreement announced on Wednesday by the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg will mean more money for New York’s neediest schools and real incentives to help educators succeed. Kudos to UFT President Randi Weingarten for her willingness to think big and develop just the kind of innovative approach that might actually help retain our best teachers in some of our toughest schools.
The plan isn’t merit pay. It’s $20 million for 200 of New York’s lowest performing schools. The money will go to the entire school – not just individual teachers. A team, made up of teachers and administrators, will decide how best to allocate the money at their local school to continue to boost performance. It’s an incentive for an entire school’s staff – teachers and principals – to come together and improve student achievement. And it recognizes that talented professionals who choose to work in some of New York’s toughest schools need and deserve support for the work that they do. More »