A new Baltimore teachers’ contract, announced last week and headed to union members for a ratification vote this month, is being hailed as one of the most progressive in the nation.
It would link teachers’ pay, in part, to their students’ performance, and do away with “step” increases that are based solely on years of experience and education. It also would enable educators to move quickly through the ranks, earn up to $100,800 a year, and give them more input on the working conditions in their schools.
City schools Chief Executive Officer Andrés A. Alonso described the contract as a “huge, monumental shift” for the district, noting that many of the stipulations are unprecedented in their focus on teacher effectiveness. “Right now, teacher compensation has nothing to do with whether they are effective,” Mr. Alonso said. If teachers are producing results in the classroom, they “shouldn’t be waiting years to reap the rewards for the work that they do.”
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents Baltimore educators, called it “the most professional contract I have seen.”
Under the changes, the city would give its 6,000 teachers an automatic 2 percent pay increase in the first year of the contract, which would raise the starting salary for a teacher in the district to $46,774. Teachers also would get a $1,500 stipend for signing the contract, to be paid using the recently passed federal jobs bill.
In the second and third years, teachers could receive up to a 1 percent increase and a 1.5 percent raise, respectively. However, those increases would be based on student performance, teacher evaluations, and professional development.
The contract sets up four steps for teachers to attain: standard, professional, model, and leader. In three years, a teacher who becomes a lead teacher—and there would be only one per building—could earn up to $100,800, or about as much as a principal.
State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said she hopes other districts will adopt similar contracts.
A version of this article appeared in the October 06, 2010 edition of Education Week as Baltimore Contract Embraces Merit Pay, More Teacher Input