Thursday, December 25, 2014

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New Contract to Have Major Impact on the Way Every City School Is Run

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The new contract agreed to by the city and the teachers' union will have a major impact on the way every city school is run, with both sides saying the agreement includes significant reforms. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The teachers' union contract is a labor agreement, but it's also hundreds of pages of rules, regulations and restrictions that govern how schools work on daily basis.

"New York City is, for the first time in a long time, truly in the educational reform mode," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

"This would be a rare opportunity, a priceless opportunity to reimagine what our schools should look like," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Teachers' contracts are not usually known as vehicles for change. In fact, critics often say the contract regulations are the single most significant block to meaningful education reform.

However, both the city and the United Federation of Teachers claim that this deal is different.

"Reforms in teaching methods, reforms in parental involvement, reforms in rewarding good teachers and moving out those who belong in a different profession," de Blasio said.

Many of the changes focus on how schools use time. Starting in September, teachers will spend 80 minutes of every Monday on professional development. On Tuesdays, they'll devote 40 minutes to communicating with parents. In addition, the number of formal parent-teacher conferences will double, going from two to four a year.

To enable this, tutoring and test prep, which were a big part of the last contact, will be cut.

For some schools, the changes could be much larger, as 200 schools will be able to apply for exemptions from many of the union contract rules and DOE regulations.

"We're telling the school communities now, it's OK to experiment," Mulgrew said.

Another huge change is that for the first time, teachers will have an opportunity to make more money, up to $20,000 a year, if they're recognized for excellence and are willing to work as a mentor.

Teachers who work at 150 of the hardest-to-staff schools will also get bonuses, $5,000 more a year.

The city and union both say this deal is not just carrots, but there are also sticks, mechanisms that will allow the city to fire teachers who have either been accused of sexual misconduct or who can't find a permanent position at a school. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP