A majority of Detroit teachers voted last week to ratify their new contract with the city’s nascent school district. Just about 60 percent of educators voted in favor of the short-term contract, which is valid through December but allows a newly-elected school board to extend it through the end of the school year, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Before the vote, several teachers had came forth to complain that the deal doesn’t include permanent salary increases but instead relies solely on one-time bonuses to increase their sagging wages.
But apparently many teachers saw the deal as a sign of progress.
“This contract isn’t everything we wanted, but we are glad our members saw this ratification vote as a step forward for our union, our students and the future of Detroit’s public schools,” said Detroit Federation of Teachers president Ivy Bailey in a statement following the vote. “This contract provides some important improvements for our members, our students and their families, but there is still work that must be done to improve public education in the city of Detroit.”
Union leaders say the new contract is just the first step in improving the city’s long-struggling schools. They’re hoping that a federal lawsuit filed by parents looking to force the state to invest more in city schools and upcoming school board elections will lead to better support for Detroit schools.
But it wasn’t just teachers who are upset with the contract; Republican state legislative leaders also condemned the agreement, bucking the state’s Republican governor. They unsuccesfully urged a state financial board with authority over the city and school board to veto the contract.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof called the deal “financially irresponsible.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.