Teachers ratify contract

Last night, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers voted to approve a three-year contract with the School District of Philadelphia. The agreement, the details of which were shielded from the public until after the vote, includes pay increases and keeps most benefits intact. Here are some more specifics, via our friends at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook:

The agreement calls for a 3 percent raise in March and another in September, 2012, and largely preserves the union’s relatively generous health benefits. Although there was a loud contingent of "No"s in a voice vote, teachers leaving the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, for the most part said that they were satisfied with the financial and benefit package, considering the current economic climate.

The big changes in the contract are non-economic; they include more teacher support and training for teachers in rough schools.

[The contract] creates a Peer Assistance and Review program (PAR), based largely on ones in Montgomery County, MD and Toledo, OH in which specially trained consulting teachers will work with new teachers and those who have been rated “unsatisfactory” to help them improve. If they continue to flounder, a joint committee appointed by the District and the union can recommend termination.

It also sets up a central committee and one in each school to periodically review and discuss safety and climate issues.

The School District, meanwhile, will have more control over where teachers get placed.

The agreement also expands site-based selection – thus cutting a little further into treasured seniority rights. Now, about half the teacher vacancies are filled by site selection; this will increase it to about 70 percent.

Again, go visit the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.

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