Education

Boston Hiring Pact Making Some Headway, Study Finds

By Bess Keller — April 10, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

New rules in the Boston teachers’ contract have helped the city’s schools move toward the ideal of finding the best person for the job, but school administrators still have a way to go before they take full advantage of the system’s expanded capacity to hire teachers from outside the district, a report concludes.

The new rules scale back provisions that give preference to senior teachers in getting job assignments, and in the past led to criticism that the teachers’ contract kept schools from assembling the staffs they needed to improve. The contract’s job protections changed in fall 2000 after lengthy and heated negotiations between the Boston Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and the district. The revised contract also gives teachers a 15 percent raise over its three-year duration.

The job-assignment changes were supported publicly by a coalition of community groups, including the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, which issued last month’s report on the effects of the changes in the contract’s first year.

District officials and education advocates sought to follow the lead of the Seattle public schools’ groundbreaking 1997 contract with the Seattle Education Association and a few others around the country since. All limit to varying degrees the rights to particular job placements that teachers have by dint of seniority.

“I think the one strong message we are trying to leave is that the school system needs to embrace the idea that personnel is a high priority,” said Samuel R. Tyler, the president of the bureau, a private, business-backed research group that looks at public issues. Teacher placement is “an integral part of teaching and learning” and affects student achievement, he said.

‘Better Result’

The report praises the 64,000-student district for posting job vacancies much earlier than in the past. That action created the potential for Boston to offer jobs to teachers early enough so that it could compete better with surrounding suburban districts. And Mr. Tyler acknowledged that the personnel office had been beefed up under a new head before the beginning of the 2000-01 school year.

But school heads did not take full advantage of expanded recruitment and earlier deadlines to hire more broadly, the report says. On the other hand, principals did offer jobs to more first-year teachers at their schools—in part because, for the first time, they could protect them from being “bumped” by more senior teachers without taking the often hasty step of getting them tenured, according to the report.

Along with encouraging principals to consider more outside candidates, the report urges the district to start a new tracking system for applicants and in general to improve its data collection on hiring and transfers.

Ray F. Shurtleff, who heads the district’s personnel office, called the report fair. “It really does speak to the real accomplishments that the system has made,” he said. “We have changed the perception of the Boston public schools’ hiring process, but we still have some work to do.”

He noted that school heads and their personnel committees, which include teachers and parents, had to get used to the work it takes to hire from a much larger field of applicants.

“I had a gazillion résumés, résumés from everywhere,” quipped Jean L. Dorcus, the principal of Dennis C. Haley Elementary School. “It was much more time-consuming, but at the same time we got a better result.”

Ms. Dorcus said she had one vacancy last year in her 300-student school. She filled it with a teacher from an area private school who had three years of experience, including with the literacy program that Haley Elementary uses. Too often in the past, she said, “you wanted the right person for the job, but it became a matter of who will I settle for.”

The Boston Teachers Union, which has about 6,000 members, could not be reached for comment last week.

A version of this article appeared in the April 10, 2002 edition of Education Week as Boston Hiring Pact Making Some Headway, Study Finds

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)