Union President Defends Boston's Teacher Pay System

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The Boston Teachers Union is defending the way its members are paid in the wake of a new report criticizing the current pay system.

The report from the Boston Foundation says teacher pay is outdated and salary increases in Boston are significantly higher than the average for other workers across the state.

"On average, Boston teachers received double-digit raises each of those four years (examined), and they are now very well paid — the highest paid in the metropolitan area, and among the highest paid in the country," said foundation President Paul Grogan.

The foundation is pushing for an overhaul to tie teacher pay to student performance.

But speaking to Morning Edition, union President Richard Stutman said the report does not take into account all of the work a teacher does.

"Despite the fact that our workday is bell-to-bell 6.5 or seven hours a day, the typical teacher puts in two or three more hours a day to obtain a salary of anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 or $80,000, typically," Stutman said.

Stutman also said there's nothing wrong with paying more to teachers who've earned advanced degrees and continue in the profession.

"Seventy-seven thousand dollars a year, which is the typical Boston salary, does not seem to be out of line with the responsibility that they have," he said.

The report comes as the city is in the midst of negotiating a new contract with the teachers union.

In a statement, Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson indicated her preference for including student performance in new contracts.

"Our contract proposal would reward performance, not only the number of years or additional post-secondary coursework," Johnson said. "We hope to work with the union leadership to create a system that helps good teachers get better by giving them the tools and materials they need to be effective and rewards them with higher pay for results — rather than maintaining a system that ignores student performance altogether."

To WBUR, Johnson also noted the antiquated nature of the current system.

"The original contract dates back to 1895 when the step-system was created and it was created to really encourage people to stay longer," Johnson said.

-- Here's the Boston Foundation report (on Scribd):

This program aired on January 18, 2011.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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