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Boston Teachers Union and City Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

After a 27-month-long process, there's a tentative agreement on the table.

 

The Boston Teachers Union and the School Department reached a tentative contract agreement late Tuesday night that if approved, will lead to changes in class sizes, teacher performance evaluations, and a new pay raise structure, ending the 27-month long negotiations between the two parties. 

"The agreement is good for students, affordable to the city, and fair to our members," said Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union in a statement.

“This contract is a big step forward in taking our school system to the next level – it’s what’s best for our students, it works for our teachers, and is fair to our taxpayers,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “Teachers will now have the support they need to perform, schools will have the flexibility they need to succeed, and most importantly, students will be closer to having the district they need to grow and compete.”

The new evaluation process would use student test scores to calculate a teacher's performance. If teachers are rated "unsatisfactory," they will be inelligible for pay raises and could be on a faster track to termination. 

The agreement is still tentative, because it must be approved by the union’s membership and the Boston School Committee before it becomes official. The teachers union will next meet in October to vote on the agreement. 

The negotiation process has taken 27 months to reach this point, with previous roadblocks related to an expansion of the school day by 45 minutes, then more recently on disagreements regarding wages and a new teacher evaluation system. 

Two weeks ago, the Boston Teachers Union made a move to break the most recent stalemate by proposing to accept the Boston School Department’s position on wage increases if the School Department agreed to the new teacher evaluation system and reduced class sizes, among other items. 

"We want nothing more and nothing less than a school system that delivers the highest quality education to our 57,000 students," said Stutman. "We have accomplished that, and we look forward to continuing our progress."

The tentative agreement includes:

  • A streamlined evaluation system that uses student growth and parent feedback as a measure of progress to help good teachers become great and make sure students are learning. For the first time, new teachers who receive an unsatisfactory evaluation will not be eligible for step (salary) increases.
  • Staffing and hiring flexibility so school leaders can select the right teacher for every classroom, replacing an outdated seniority-driven system.
  • A 12 percent salary increase over six years to lift the current average salary well above today’s $81,633.
  • Scheduling flexibility to give Boston Public Schools greater control over the professional development teachers receive.
  • Lower class size limits and more support staff for lower-performing schools in targeted grades to drive performance.
  • Strengthened student and parent input with increased student presence on high school school-site councils. Parent presence on the councils will more closely reflect the diversity of the student population in the school – both in terms of demographics and also student needs.
Karen Kast September 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I would love to see the specifics in writing so I can tell if this is a good thing or not. I want our teachers to have a fair contract, but without the specific details and wording the bullet points above already prove there will be issues: Problem 1) parent feedback counting toward teacher performance: great idea, but how will they get the feedback? Realistically, most of our schools are lucky if they get 10% response to ANYTHING including meal benefit applications, school climate surveys, even something as hot-button as assignment only got feedback (online+meetings,etc total) from 2,300 people & as someone who went to more than one, I can tell you that the majority of people at those meetings were NOT parents. In a school district with roughly 56,000 students to have that low a response rate for such a major issue shows how bad the parent input/response rate is, so how will that work when it is part of the teacher eval process? Problem 2) Why this is an issue for the teachers contract I am not sure, but the whole diversity piece is an issue that has been highlighted as a priority since School Site Councils were mandated in the early 90s, but here is the problem - even when schools, parent councils, etc bend over backwards, the parents who step up have never reflected the diversity. I have spent 17+ years trying to change that at every school my kids attended, with no luck and don't have the magic answer to making this happen, so how is this suddenly going to change?
Karen Kast September 13, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Direct from the BTU Bulletin: "The parties did not agree to anything relating to tying performance evaluation to student test scores. Whatever the state mandates along this line will be part of the performance evaluation process in the BPS as it will be in every other community in the state--nothing more and nothing less." Q) How do we measure student growth? A) With testing! :/ Both sides are using broad/vague language here - so what is the real story?
Richard Stutman September 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
From R Stutman: the btu contract meets all state guidelines for performance EVAL. That will include the inclusion of parental input. On the piece of parent diversity...as I understand it, that comes originally from 1993 language authorizing school site councils when the state ini tiated them. We support the issue of diversity in any case. The btu and the bps had school site councils with diversity in place 2 years before the state did and we supported the diversity piece there as well.

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