While a 15% pay raise for New York City teachers is what has grabbed all the headlines, the city's newly negotiated contract with the UFT contains plenty of other nuggets worthy of mention. Notably, the city has chosen not to do anything about much-needed pension reform, instead giving teachers with 25 or more years of service the right to retire even earlier at the age of 55, rather than 62.
The new contract puts an end to the practice of basing transfers solely on seniority, a practice that has had a deleterious impact on principals' ability to shape a school's staff. Restrictions on excessed teachers seeking employment outside of their districts were removed as well, and openings will now be posted citywide.
Not surprisingly, the salary schedule is intact, but some important groundwork is being laid for merit pay with the introduction of better paid "lead teachers." The contract also allows for highly skilled and experienced teachers to be recruited as "lead teachers" with a salary differential of $10,000. The Chancellor will determine the number and location of lead teachers, though the program will be geared toward high-needs schools and understaffed subjects. These teachers will be selected based on merit, but there are no nitty-gritty details yet on the criteria by which merit is to be determined. However, the selection process will be two-tiered: both a regional personnel committee and a participating school's committee will select the best from the pool of applicants. The principal of the participating school will have a seat on the latter committee, along with veto power.
The agreement revoked some earlier provisions that prevented principals from making teachers supervise lunchrooms, hallways, and dismissals.
Principals will now be able to assign teachers to take specific professional development classes, a right they did not have under the old contract. Now principals will be able to say, "Hey John, I think you need to learn something about algebra."
The agreement also requires teachers to work an extra 10 minutes a day to assist students requiring extra help. The two parties also agreed that teachers would work an extra two days a year; Bloomberg had requested three.