Boston Teachers, City Reach Tentative Labor Deal

Mayor Thomas Menino speaks at a press conference announcing the tentative labor agreement. Carol Johnson, superintendent of Boston Public Schools, stands behind him. Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, stands on Johnson's left. (Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)

Mayor Thomas Menino speaks at a press conference announcing the tentative labor agreement. Carol Johnson, superintendent of Boston Public Schools, stands behind him. Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, stands on Johnson’s left. (Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)

BOSTON — After more than two years of negotiations, the Boston Teachers Union and the city reached a tentative contract agreement early Wednesday.

Boston Public Schools and the union say this agreement will create a brand new system for the way teachers are placed, evaluated and earn pay raises. But it doesn’t lengthen the school day. It also doesn’t eliminate seniority, but it does diminish it.

Superintendent Carol Johnson says now principals will have more control over hiring.

“In the past a principal had to interview the three most senior people and select from them,” Johnson said. “This contract gives principals the flexibility to interview a number of candidates throughout the system and choose the best candidate of those who apply.”

However, if the principal’s chosen candidate doesn’t accept, there is still room for the seniority system to kick in and a teacher would be appointed without principal involvement.

“There’ll be flexibility on both sides, from the teacher’s standpoint and the principal’s standpoint,” said Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union. “At the end of the day the teacher is guaranteed a position, but at the end of the day it will be a more suitable position.”

One of the final sticking points was the requirement that teachers be evaluated in part on their students’ test scores, including MCAS. The sides agreed to use the state model, which also includes engaging families.

“We agreed on a proposal of performance evaluation that both of us could live with and both of us could work with in order to provide the best educational delivery of service to our members,” Stutman said. “So you could call that a concession or you could call that an agreement.”

The new contract also prevents new teachers who get poor evaluations from getting an automatic raise. And it’s tying salary increases to classroom needs. A teacher will have to take relevant professional development courses before getting a raise.

The main concession came from the city. There is no language in the new contract about lengthening the day. In July, Johnson dropped her proposal to make school two hours longer in some schools. Instead she is relying on existing language in the contract to add time to the school day at a smaller number of schools.

Overall, the reaction to the tentative agreement is positive.

“I think this is great news; it’s been a long time coming,” said Kim Janey, of Massachusetts Advocates for Children. “We are excited to see the reforms that will benefit the children in the classroom.”

But Sam Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, is disappointed that the agreement didn’t give principals more power.

“We would like a situation where the principals have full say over teachers in the school so the principal can be the education leader,” Tyler said. They can then “develop a team that has the same philosophy, which means that there needs to be a better way to dismiss under-performing teachers. I think we have taken a step here but it really needed to go farther.”

Johnson says the new system will help principals remove bad teachers from the classroom faster.

The contract also gives teachers a 12 percent pay increase over the six-year contact, retroactive. Two years of this contact have already passed, so they will see an immediate 3 percent raise, if the contract if approved by union members and the School Board.

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  • DottieHigh

    -“We would like a situation where the principals have full say over teachers in the school so the principal can be the education leader,” Tyler said.  -

    As long as there are educational leaders like Peterson at the O’Bryant, it would be foolhardy to allow principals to have an arbitrary, unfettered reign over their fiefdom.   

    Teachers, as the face to face service providers for the students deserve a say in their school.  Mr. Tyler is off base.

  • jonshore


    The title “Leader” is not awarded by Dr. Johnson when you
    get assigned a job as principal in the Boston Public Schools.  Principals in the Boston Public Schools
    are administrators.   The
    title “Leader” is awarded by the teachers and staff who work under you, the teachers
    and staff who actually do the work that makes you look good, at the school you
    are assigned to. 


    True “Leaders” are always in service of others, they are the
    principals who say, “What can I do for you” and “what do you need.” They are
    the principals who buy you a Cram Globe you’ve had your eye on, when you’ve
    spent a year having fundraisers for the schools’ Canobie Lake field trip.  They are the ones who send you a
    thank-you note when you’ve gone above and beyond.  Leaders acknowledge your contribution.


    True Leaders do not develop a team with “the same
    philosophy” they welcome different opinions and are willing to change. They
    don’t “dismiss” teachers who might disagree with them, and then use the excuse
    that these teachers were “under-performing;” silencing the voices of other
    teachers who might speak up.  A coward
    and a bully does that, not a Leader.


    The Boston Public Schools is the Number 1 urban school
    system in the United States. According
    to Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City
    Schools, “the district’s many excellent teachers to guide classroom instruction
    have resulted in academic progress that is the envy of other cities.” Mr.
    Casserly goes on to say, “Boston is the only big-city school district to have
    actually caught up with the nation in any grade or subject after having started
    significantly below it. Eighth graders in Boston have gone from proficiency
    levels in math, that were 10 percentage points below national averages in 2003,
    to levels that match the country in 2011!”

    Parents of urban students take note, Boston Public School Veteran Teachers accomplished
    that, not administrators from Court Street, not Paul Grogan, President of The
    Boston Foundation, not Samuel Tyler, President of the Boston Municipal Research
    Bureau! I read the report by The Boston Foundation. It’s obvious, Paul Grogan
    and Samuel Tyler are intent on privatizing public education but not in the
    suburban communities where they live. They are intent on removing the charter
    school cap in Massachusetts and using the Boston Public Schools as a springboard
    to accomplishing their goal. They are not motivated for Boston’s “urban
    children” but by the needs of Boston businesses to secure a low paid, no
    benefit, service sector urban workforce. 
    They need a low educated population of workers to maintain their status
    quo.  They need workers who can make change, greet customers, and will
    work 12 hours a day because they can’t pay the rent if they work less.


    Paul Grogan and Samuel Tyler represent corporations and big businesses that are under scrutiny by the U.S. Immigration and Customs
    Enforcement (ICE) to “maintain a lawful workforce.”  In the Boston area,
    400 businesses have already “partnered” with U.S. Immigration and Customs
    Enforcement (ICE) by joining the agency’s “voluntary” employment compliance
    program IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers).
     The goal of ICE is to deport 100% of all deportable persons by the year
    2012.  Probably as punishment to Mayor Menino threatening to opt out of
    the ICE Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, ICE conducted 89 inspections in
    the Boston area during 2011 (they only inspected 54 in 2010), and found
    employees who were working or hired illegally and fined those companies.
     If ICE meets their goal, who will fill those jobs when these workers are
    deported?  Who will serve the latte, who will make the beds in the Seaport
    hotels, who will wash the dishes in the hotel restaurants?  These service sector jobs
    can’t be outsourced!  Boston area companies are trolling for low paid,
    service sector “lawful” workers, and where are they looking?  In the
    Boston Public Schools!




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