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What de Blasio's Contract Deal Means for Teachers

Friday, May 02, 2014 - 04:00 AM

UFT president Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña embrace at a press conference announcing a contract for New York City teachers. (Rob Bennett/Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)

The new teacher contract, announced Thursday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, includes wage increases and back pay, a streamlined teacher evaluation process and time built into the school day for professional development and parent engagement.

Speaking at City Hall, de Blasio said the agreement was negotiated in an "atmosphere of partnership and respect." Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and union president Michael Mulgrew even hugged.

Here are some highlights from the agreement that make union and city leaders happy enough to embrace:

Wage increase. Teachers will receive 18 percent in raises, including retroactive pay, over the course of the nine-year contract. Educators will also receive a one-time signing bonus of $1,000 once the agreement is ratified by union members.

The agreement also includes more opportunities for pay through a career ladder. Teachers could apply for "model" or "master" positions to mentor colleagues.

Tweaks to the teacher evaluation system. The agreement aims to lift some of the cumbersome details of the teacher evaluation process, by allowing principals to evaluate teachers according to a more limited version of the observation rubric, known as the Danielson Framework for Teaching. Instead of evaluating teachers according to all 22 components of the rubric, principals will focus on eight elements related to learning in the classroom.

Also, the city and union both said teachers in non-testing grades and subjects, such as the arts, would only be graded on the performance of students they actually teach. But it's not yet clear how this would work.

Excessed Teachers. About 1,200 teachers who lack permanent positions are in a pool known as the Absent Teacher Reserve, which costs the city roughly $100 million each year.

Fariña said that the Department of Education would interview teachers in the pool and send them to schools where there are vacancies. The principal has final say, said Fariña, over whether or not to keep the teacher on staff and would be empowered to make that decision even after one day.

There is no limit, however, to how long a teacher would be allowed to remain in the "reserve" pool. Some groups have criticized the contract for not doing more to whittle down the pool.

More parent engagement. Through a pilot program, teachers will be able to dedicate 40 minutes each week to hold meetings with parents or spend time reaching out to them. There are also changes to parent-teacher conferences: they would double from two to four conferences each school year, and these meetings would increase in length to three hours.

More built-in time for professional development. The city would do away with an extra 37.5 minute period to help struggling students, an item that was part of the 2005 contract. Instead, the contract would reconfigure that time to give teachers more professional development each week, such as establishing a block of time for peer-to-peer learning, something Fariña has made a priority since she became Chancellor.

Pilot project for school innovation. Under the agreement, up to 200 schools could apply for a chance to try new initiatives, like reworking the school day and year or giving teachers more say in hiring decisions.

Initial reaction from parent and teacher groups was generally positive. The group United Parents of Highbridge said it "couldn't be more pleased" that the contract deal put "more focus on teaching and learning."

The New York City Coalition for Educational Justice said the contract ended the "era of vilifying teachers."

Beth Brady, a special education teacher in Manhattan, said initial highlights of the contract were a "breath of fresh air."

"After teaching my entire career under the Bloomberg administration, I can't tell you how respected this contract makes me feel," she said.

Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the group Educators 4 Excellence, also said "there is much for teachers to celebrate in the new contract" but withheld a full endorsement until seeing the fine print.

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Comments [8]

Greg

Open back all those 3020a hearings under Bloomberg that had chumped up charges against teachers by unscrupulous principals. For example Jean Williams.

Jun. 11 2014 07:24 PM
Frances Ottino from Staten Island, NY

What I see as the worst part of this contract is healthcare clinics. Please think of what you are signing into. A representative of the UFT called me to reassure me that we could still keep our own doctors and specialists but there continues to be written in every paper that we will be signing onto healthcare centers to save money. He ended his conversation by telling me how wonderful he thought these centers would be. This would mean for younger teachers, should they become seriously Ill and need a specialist, have a major accident, need a high risk Doctor for pregnancy, have a child that needs a specialist, will be going to a center (code for clinic). I didn't even speak of retirees and what they will be up against, especially those who already have special needs. You are never too young to get cancer and it knows no boundaries. Your raises won't pay for the healthcare you will need if you can't keep your own doctors. Really, do you imagine DeBlasio will be taking his wife, and two kids to a clinic??? Please think before you vote yes.

May. 08 2014 12:50 PM
Jose Colmenares

Some of the retro payments are severely delayed, down to 2020, making the real value of this debt dissolved by inflation, the contract described by both the UFT and the mayor (and this article) is very different from the real numbers, look at this chart: http://files.uft.org/misc/proposed-new-teachers-contract-pay-chart.jpg

but that is not the real problem, the real issue is that it will be much easier to send more experienced and expensive teachers to the "subsititute pool" and then firing them, doing away with tenure, because of this most teachers in the school I know will vote no, after all they are not in it for the money, but they dont want a contract where they can loose their long fought tenure rights

May. 06 2014 04:47 AM
joey from NYC

So do teachers expect an 8% increase to current salaries or is the 2% all that we can expect? Also do new teacher expect a 10% increase or do they just expect 1% ? I ask because a truly retroactive contract would consider these points even if actual pay out would take longer.

May. 03 2014 02:09 PM
Beth Fertig

UFT says retirees are eligible for retroactive raises if they retired post 2009, but not those who resigned.

May. 02 2014 01:28 PM
rose malkin

The most important unanswered question around the teachers contract - will the principals and administrative union(s) get the same deal?

They MUST.

Considering public statements made by the new chancellor regarding the new administrations respect of and support for principals, as well as the work load that will likely be added to principals and other non-classroom based education professionals due to the new mandates around professional development, a failure to provide a similar (if not better) deal to the other school related unions could and would only be seen as a slap in the face.

The UFT and classroom teachers may have most of the press and political power, but they are not the only factors in the success and day to day operations of the school system.

May. 02 2014 10:17 AM
Karen from Brooklyn

Are former UFT members who've resigned from the DOE in the last year entitled to receive retroactive pay for the last five years during which teachers worked without a contract? Thanks.

May. 02 2014 09:59 AM
James Gedge from Westchester County

In an era when school districts are asking teachers to 'give back' - including my district, it is gratifying that NYC is finally giving teachers the respect and climate needed to start making a real difference in the city schools. Salaries are still far below what the surrounding school districts are paying their teachers and yet, NYC teachers have the more difficult task. I would like to see even more detail of the contract - especially healthcare.

May. 02 2014 09:11 AM

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