November 17, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Ratification of New Baltimore Teachers Contract
The members of the Baltimore Teachers Union today ratified a tentative agreement
with the Baltimore City Public Schools.
WASHINGTON—With today’s contract ratification, Baltimore joins a growing list of school districts nationwide that are using collective bargaining and collaboration as vehicles for education reform. The contract is a bold step by the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Baltimore City Public Schools to transform the city’s school system and make a difference in the lives of all students. It meshes unique reforms with school improvement strategies that are working in other districts. The BTU and BCPS have shown what is possible when both sides are committed to a collaborative process that is focused on working in the best interests of kids.
The provisions of the agreement establish a foundation for improved teaching and learning. The agreement replaces the conventional seniority system with a new career pathway that allows educators to determine the pace of their career advancement and associated salary increases, depending on additional work they take on as well as training they complete. It also provides for labor-management collaboration on school improvement programs and other education decisions, a process to ensure more reliable teacher evaluations, and increased access to better professional development.
This is the second time Baltimore’s educators have voted on the new contract, and they sent a clear message with each vote. First, they made it clear that they have the right to demand more time to learn about and consider provisions that are extremely new and different. The second message was sent today: Trust is paramount in any contractual agreement. BTU members wanted to see that the agreement included checks and balances to ensure that everyone—including principals and district administrators—is holding up his or her end of the bargain. Satisfied that they will be full-fledged members of the education team, they voted for sweeping changes to improve teaching and student achievement.
Now, the vision for great Baltimore schools depends on a good-faith implementation of the contract by school district administrators, principals and teachers, through their union.
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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.