Two years in the making, a new agreement has been reached between DCPS and the Washington Teachers’ Union. It’s not a done deal, as it still needs to be ratified by teachers and then approved by the D.C. Council. There are plenty of details to be worked out but the broad strokes are as follows:
• It’s a five-year contract, retroactive to October 2007, with an overall (over the five years, 3 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent, 4 percent and 5 percent respectively) base salary raise of more than 20 percent. Retroactive pay will go to the 250 plus teachers who were RIF’d last fall, too.
• It includes performance pay, but doesn’t include the “red tier, green tier” plan that generated so much controversy last year. All teachers—new and veteran– still work under the same salary structure. And no due process or tenure protections are lost for those who participate. The performance pay plan is voluntary and based on eligibility–if you want to participate you also have to qualify based on measures, which are tbd but not surprisingly will be “collaboratively developed” and include “multiple measures” of teaching practice.
• Teachers can and will still be “excessed”—losing their jobs to school closures or district-wide RIFs but maintaining employment in the district—but there are changes here. There are more hiring options for excessed teachers– a $25,000 buyout, retirement with full benefits if you have 20+ years of experience, or a full additional year to find a placement with help from DCPS (after that, you’re on your own). But these options are limited to teachers who perform well (rated effective or better) on DC’s new evaluation system, IMPACT. Also in the agreement is a commitment to create a “working group” of teachers and administrators to reflect teachers’ concerns and recommendation about IMPACT, and to have IMPACT evaluated externally.
• Look for “professional development centers” to sprout up soon. These are intended to improve PD by making it “teacher-led” and more relevant to local needs, but it remains to be seen if these centers will help link PD to evaluation, which is really what is needed to improve teaching.
• The money to pay for all of this is not coming from DC, at least not yet. Nearly $65 million in private donations are being secured by the D.C. Public Education Fund from the Broad Foundation, the Arnold Foundation; the Robertson Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. What happens in 2012, at the end of the five years, is still not clear. If foundations don’t re-up in 2012, it’s not clear what happens…pay cuts, RIFs or some creative public funding?
With plenty of details to be determined still, it’s hard to say whether this means big change for DCPS. There are, throughout, references to more streamlining and clarifying and consultation and collaboration—words that could signify new approaches or be nothing more than semantic persuasions. But both union and management are giving and getting in this agreement and for that it seems quite promising.