September 29, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, On Progress in Baltimore’s Teachers’ Contract Negotiations
The Baltimore Teachers Union and Baltimore City Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement on a groundbreaking new contract. The agreement still must be ratified by union members and the school board.
WASHINGTON—Building on recent successes, the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Baltimore City Public Schools have come together to negotiate this transformative contract, which creates a culture of collaboration and shared leadership in the city’s schools, and aligns teacher compensation with the building blocks needed to improve teaching and learning.
The contract supports professional practices that research, experience and common sense say will lead to better student outcomes. It gives teachers a clear path to having their voices heard in school decision-making, sharing their expertise with colleagues, and taking on leadership roles in their schools. And it aligns these innovations with a system of competitive compensation. The union and the district have built the entire compensation system on good practices and the opportunities available to teachers through a new career ladder. Teachers who are successful in moving children forward will advance their careers, and those who are not will receive support to help them help children. The agreement also creates more flexibility at the school level to better tailor programs and schedules to the needs of kids.
This contract builds on recent progress in Baltimore, where test score increases have exceeded state and national averages, and both the district and the BTU signed on to the state’s successful Race to the Top application. The Baltimore Teachers Union—like AFT affiliates in Hillsborough, Fla.; New Haven, Conn.; and Pittsburgh—has used collective bargaining to create a problem-solving contract that brings innovative, forward-thinking, systemic changes to schools so that, once and for all, we can move away from the factory model of education and toward an Information Age model that provides kids the critical-thinking skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.
The collaborative, respectful nature of the negotiations that led to this agreement embodies school reform done with teachers, not to us. We are confident that the new contract will help Baltimore’s schools prepare students for success in college, work and life.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.