Federal education leaders are calling New Haven’s new teachers’ contract “historic”, and a national model for reform. Teachers overwhelmingly approved the contract, which sets the stage for major changes in New Haven’s public schools.
Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers."This is both a collective bargaining agreement, as well as a process that should be analyzed through virtually all the public school districts throughout this country as a model of both process and outcome".
Speaking to teachers, parents and lawmakers on Monday, Weingarten praised the negotiation process. "They did it in a way that was workmanlike and professional as opposed to screaming about the contract issues in the front pages of the New Haven Register or any other paper. "
Charlie Rose, General Counsel for the US Department of Education says New Haven’s contract mirrors four areas that Washington considers to be educational priorities: better assessments; expanded use of data, teacher evaluations that include student progress, "..and finally the contract uniquely gives the schools in this district, extraordinary powers to intervene and turn around schools particularly in Tier 3".
A new tier system offers high-performing schools some independence from central office supervision. Schools in Tier 3 may be deemed “turnaround schools”. They may become city-run charter programs. But teachers remain union members, and have a say if there’s a move to a longer school day or longer school year. Teachers may also become eligible for performance pay.
Jack Paulishen is a social studies teacher at James Hillhouse High School. "This is what I like about the talk in our contract about performance pay. And its that teachers have a seat at the table. There’s going to be a committee involving teachers and administrators determining how we’re going to judge the effectiveness of teachers."
The agreement is to go into effect next year.