After two and a half years of stalled negotiations, the Boston Teachers Union and the School Department reached a tentative agreement Wednesday that will enact sweeping changes to the way teachers are evaluated, and also reduce class sizes at under-performing schools while bringing in new nurses, social workers and special education assistants, the Boston Globe reports.
The deal was struck 11 hours after the two sides sat down together for the first time since late August, when Mayor Thomas M. Menino requested the state Department of Labor Relations intervene and recommend a resolution to the stalemate.
Talks began Tuesday amid an ongoing strike by the Chicago Teachers Union over contract negotiations with Chicago Public Schools and a host of other issues, including teacher evaluations. After weeks of negotiation, both sides have reached a stalemate over how to implement a recent law that requires standardized tests to count for, initially, one quarter of all teacher evaluations.
Like Chicago, Boston belongs to the American Federation of Teachers. In Massachusetts, it is illegal for teachers to strike, however, and according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the strike issues cited by the city’s teachers are actually prohibited under Illinois state law, WLS-TV reports. But Chicago union members have interpreted the law differently, and maintain they are striking legally.
According to the Globe, the overhaul to Boston's teacher evaluation system will align with changes made to state rules last year that make student test scores a central component of teacher reviews.
The agreement also ends the practice of automatic annual pay raises for all teachers, and mandates teachers who fail reviews not receive a pay raise until they show improvement. Those who show no signs of improvement could face early termination.
The six-year contract still requires approval from the union’s 5,000-plus members, the school board and city council.
Some, including City Councilor John Connolly and Boston Municipal Research Bureau president Sam Tyler, thought school officials -- wary of the situation in Chicago -- made too many concessions, the Boston Herald reports. For instance, the deal does not address proposals to extend the school day by 45 minutes. It also does not adapt pre-existing “bumping” rules that require administrators to find spots for all existing teachers, often at the expense of young teachers losing jobs.
That said, Menino lauded the agreement, saying, “We are taking our school system to the next level. This is a contract that is great for our students, works for our teachers and it is fair to our taxpayers,” according to the Herald.
He added: “Change is hard and often hard fought. Neither side let their frustrations spill over on the students of the Boston public schools.”
Similarly, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised both parties for their professionalism.
“The tentative agreement between the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston school district is a model of what’s possible when all parties decide to do what’s best for kids, teachers, schools and community,” she said in a statement. “Collaboration isn’t easy and trust doesn’t happen overnight, but they are key for resolving differences and paving the way for a lasting labor-management partnership.”
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Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/22/rahm-emanuel-wins-chicago-mayor_n_826769.html" target="_hplink">is elected as Chicago's first new mayor in 22 years</a> on Feb. 22, 2011. The Chicago Teachers Union was leery of Emanuel's plans for the city's schools well before that date. In its profiles of then-candidates that the union distributed to its members prior to the mayoral election, the CTU wrote that <a href="http://www.ctunet.com/municipal/mayoral-candidate-profiles" target="_hplink">Emanuel was "out of touch"</a> and stood in direct opposition to "education issues of importance to our members." <br> <em>(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)</em>
The Illinois state legislature <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/13/illinois-education-reform_n_861806.html" target="_hplink">passes a law cutting into teachers' abilities to negotiate their contracts</a> and making it more difficult for the teachers union to move to strike. The sweeping education reform legislation, titled SB7, is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/13/pat-quinn-signs-ed-reform-bill_n_876048.html" target="_hplink">signed into law in June</a> by Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The bill's passage came after heavy pressure from Emanuel, and was directed largely toward Chicago's schools, which are widely perceived to be failing. <br> <em>(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)</em>
The Emanuel-appointed school board, blaming the district's massive budget deficit, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/chicago-board-of-educatio_n_877659.html" target="_hplink">voted unanimously to rescind the 4 percent annual pay raise</a> that teachers were anticipating as part of their contract. Teachers took to the streets to protest the rescinded raises outside the offices of the Chicago Board of Education. A week later, the board approved salaries for then-newly installed Chicago Public Schools executives <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/cps-administrators-await-_n_882217.html" target="_hplink">that were markedly higher</a> than their predecessors' pay in most cases. <br> <em>(Scott Olson/Getty Images)</em>
Amid Chicago teachers' growing frustrations, Jonah Edelman, head of the school-policy organization Stand for Children that lobbied hard for SB7, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/jonah-edelman-on-illinois_n_896512.html" target="_hplink">gloated at the Aspen Ideas Festival</a> on June 28, 2011, that he had outsmarted the CTU in pushing the legislation through. Based on their research, no strike had ever passed with more than 50 percent of union members participating. <br> <em>(Scott Olson/Getty Images)</em>
As the first day of school approached last fall, Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/03/rahm-emanuel-jean-claude-_n_917578.html" target="_hplink">touted their push for a district-wide longer school day</a>, one of the loftiest proposals the mayor campaigned on during the mayoral race. The Chicago Teachers Union is concerned with the call for a longer day amid their own compensation concessions. <br> <em>(AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)</em>
In a radio interview that aired Aug. 14, 2011, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/15/chicago-teachers-strike-u_n_927519.html" target="_hplink">CTU members were "very upset"</a> and felt "disrespected" following their rescinded raise. She further admitted that the likelihood of a strike vote was "very high." <br> <em>(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, Nov. 16, 2011 File)</em>
After a very long, public battle, over the length of the school day in Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union announced they <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/04/longer-school-day-deal-li_n_1076173.html" target="_hplink">had come to an agreement on the matter</a> with the mayor's office and Chicago Public Schools on Nov. 4, 2011. The original plan had called for a 90-minute extension to the school day without raising teacher pay, but CTU President Karen Lewis accused the mayor and CPS of leaving teachers out of the conversation. In April, Emanuel <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/emanuel-shortens-school-d_n_1415215.html" target="_hplink">announced the specifics of the city's concessions</a> to the union on the longer day. <br> <em>(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)</em>
Still, additional concerns persisted for Chicago's teachers, including objections to the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/chicago-teacher-evaluations_n_1116517.html" target="_hplink">new teacher evaluation models</a>. In April, CTU President Karen Lewis said teachers were "fed up," and that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/chicago-teacher-strike-im_n_1430953.html" target="_hplink">teachers at more than 200 schools supported a protest</a> that included leaving the workforce in a series of "mock strike votes." On June 6, 2012, CTU members <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/chicago-teachers-union-ha_0_n_1586561.html" target="_hplink">voted overwhelmingly to authorize</a> what ultimately became their first strike in 25 years. State law required 75 percent approval and the CTU got 90 percent approval from its 26,502 members. The vote authorized the union to move to strike in the event that contract talks broke down.
On July 16, 2012, independent arbitrator Edwin Benn, who had been seeking common ground between the CTU and CPS, issued his report. His recommendation of a 14.85 percent raise for teachers was, by the end of the week, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/chicago-teacher-raises-ra_n_1683750.html" target="_hplink">rejected by both sides</a>, paving the way even further for a strike. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard had previously criticized the union for pushing for a strike authorization before Benn made his recommendation. <br> <em>(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)</em>
On Aug. 29, 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/chicago-teachers-strike-u_n_1839497.html" target="_hplink">filed the required 10-day notice</a> of a strike. Several days later, they <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/chicago-teachers-strike-d_n_1844935.html" target="_hplink">set their strike date at Sept. 10</a>, the earliest day possible. The previous week, after the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/chicago-public-schools-fi_n_1772644.html" target="_hplink">first crop of CPS students</a> began classes, CTU members took to the streets and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/chicago-teachers-picket-b_n_1823047.html" target="_hplink">held "practice strikes"</a> outside the Board of Education. CPS said, in response, that the city's students "can't afford to be removed from their classroom at a time when they're starting to make progress with the Full School Day." <br> <em>(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)</em>
SEPTEMBER 9, 2012
On Sept. 9, 2012, after weeks of ongoing negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union announced that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/chicago-teachers-school-b_n_1869477.html" target="_hplink">they were going on strike for the first time in 25 years</a>. "In the morning, no CTU members will be inside our schools," CTU President Karen Lewis said of the union's 26,000 educators. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in an evening press conference, described the walkout as "a strike of choice." <br> <em>(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)</em>
SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
On Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, thousands of teachers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/chicago-teachers-on-strike_n_1870955.html" target="_hplink">hit the picket lines citywide</a>. Mayor Emanuel <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/rahm-emanuel-chicago-mayo_2_n_1870185.html" target="_hplink">vowed to end the "unnecessary" strike</a> and get the city's children back in the classroom as soon as possible. After GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/mitt-romney-chicago-teachers-union-strike_n_1870942.html" target="_hplink">condemned the teachers union over the strike</a>, the walkout became a national news story. Emanuel responded to Romney that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/rahm-emanuel-chicago-teachers-strike_n_1871569.html" target="_hplink">he didn't give "two hoots"</a> what he thought about the matter while the Obama administration stayed mostly quiet on the strike. In the evening, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/chicago-teachers-strike_n_1872255.html" target="_hplink">thousands of teachers and their supporters</a> took to the streets of downtown Chicago for a massive really. <br> <em>(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)</em>
SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
The Chicago Teachers Union emerged from Monday without a deal with the city and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/chicago-teachers-strike-k_n_1873527.html" target="_hplink">the strike continued into a second day</a>. A poll released by the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> reported that <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/15081881-418/poll-47-of-chicago-registered-voters-support-teachers-in-strike.html" target="_hplink">47 percent of the city's voters backed teachers</a> in the dispute, compared with 39 percent who opposed them. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/chicago-teacher-strike-obama_n_1875179.html" target="_hplink">issued a statement</a> that largely allowed the Obama administration to refrain from taking a side in the issue. CTU President Karen Lewis said that the union and the city still had a long way to go in coming to an agreement. <br> <em>(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)</em>