The School district of Philadelphia has agreed to a new contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers of which this writer is a member. The meeting was contentious and the vote was close, very close.
Highlights of the contract include:
Site Selection: Three teachers will now sit on site-selection committee and have a vote. The principal also has one vote.
The contract establishes Peer Assistance and Review (PAR), a jointly developed evaluation system for all new teachers and others who are struggling. Consulting teachers will work with those enrolled in PAR and recommend evaluation ratings. What stands out here is the PAR is made up of fellow union teachers. As Al Shankar once said and I paraphrase here, if we are to be a union of professionals we must police ourselves. His concept has finally come to fruition.
The District has budgeted $20 million to reward teachers and other staff members as a group. There is no individual merit pay.
The district had previously sought to insure racial balance amongst the faculty. This resulted in many educators being denied a position they were seeking because they’re race wasn’t the one needed to achieve racial balance. The contract does away with efforts to maintain racially balanced faculties at all schools. Both parties said this stemmed from recent legal decisions and the settlement of the desegregation case brought by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in 1970. In other words the court case responsible for equality of opportunity for all was 40 years old. That says something, but I’m not certain what.
Teachers received a 6% raise over 3 years. Benefits remained the same
I voted in favor of this contract as I saw it as the beginning of teacher empowerment. The word strong principal is on its way to extinction. We need effective principals, ones who can collaborate and inspire, just as we seek to do with our students.
On the negative side Dr. Ackerman is going ahead with her Imagine 2014 program where eventually 76 schools will be reconstituted and many union members will transfer to other schools or eventually lose union benefits. School district hiring needs will diminish as most experienced teachers will stay at union represented schools and the privatized schools will have to hire their own. Eventually they will all be union schools again as reconstitution has a track record of working only 5% of the time. Now teachers will not be the scapegoat for bad schools. It will be the fault of administration and the choices they make as who runs these schools.
Why am I not happy about this?