Teachers Column

May 31, 1989 2 min read

In what many have interpreted as an endorsement for school reform, Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers’ Association, won his bid for re-election this month with 76 percent of the vote.

The union leader has guided the New York district through the initial stages of one of nation’s most far-reaching reform plans.

Under the terms of a contract negotiated last year, top teachers in Rochester could earn close to $70,000 by 1991-92 as part of a career ladder that requires teachers to take on new roles and responsibilities.

The district also has created “school-based planning” teams at each site.

Mr. Urbanski’s opponents, Elmer Henretta of Franklin High School and Patricia Thompson of East High School, received 10 percent and 14 percent of the vote, respectively.

“I do not believe that I would have had any challenge were it not for the initiatives that were contained in the last contract settlement,” Mr. Urbanski said.

“I essentially took the position that I would like this to be an opportunity to have a referendum on reform,” he stated. “A small margin of victory would have handcuffed me and would have confirmed the suspicion that teachers are not committed to this.”

Now, he added, “we have bought two more years of time” to make good on reform promises.

In an unusual show of solidarity, the presidents of 31 colleges and universities in Massachusetts last week called on state leaders to speed up the release of policies that would govern new requirements for teacher-certification in the state.

Under the standards, proposed in 1987 by a joint task force of the state boards of education and higher education, teachers would be certified under a two-tiered system.

To receive a full teaching certificate, they would have to complete a master’s degree, structured around a clinical experience, and work under the guidance of a mentor teacher.

In a statement released last week, the presidents expressed concern that no provisions have yet been made regarding the role, selection, training, and renumeration of mentor teachers. Nor are there any details regarding the formation of the master’s programs.

A bill moving through the legislature would require that all components of the new system be in place by 1994. “If we do not act now, there will not be time to implement these changes effectively,” the presidents warned.

They came together as members of the Presidents’ Forum on Teaching as a Profession. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation and sponsored by the American Association for Higher Education, the national project is trying to involve university leaders in teacher-education issues.--lo

A version of this article appeared in the May 31, 1989 edition of Education Week as Teachers Column