Teaching Profession

Rhee, Union Agree to Tentative Contract in D.C.

By Stephen Sawchuk — April 06, 2010 1 min read
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District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and Washington Teachers’ Union head George Parker have apparently reached agreement on the city’s much-awaited and much-delayed collective-bargaining pact. Details will be unveiled at a Wednesday morning press conference.

The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper have some of the initial details. The membership of the Washington Teachers’ Union, as well as the D.C. Council, still have to sign off on it before it goes into effect.

I’m holding back on a full writeup until I have the actual language in my hands, but here are some tidbits:

• Rhee’s initial red-tier and green-tier pay proposal is gone, but vestiges of that initiative made it into the final contract. Teachers would be allowed to opt into a new performance-based pay program, though they wouldn’t have to give up tenure to do so.
• The contract clarifies protections for probationary teachers against “arbitrary and capricious” firings. It would also convene a joint panel to discuss revisions to the IMPACT evaluation system and create a standardized system for reductions-in-force to inject more transparency into the city’s contested layoff decisions.
• Salaries would increase by about 21 percent across the board over the five-year life of the contract (the contract is retroactive to 2007) and teachers opting into the performance-pay component could to earn $20,000 or more in additional bonuses.
• Private foundations are poised to give $65 million to support the higher pay, but interestingly, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t one of those foundations.

It’s safe to say that this contract will be the subject of intense scrutiny given the last two years of education history in Washington. Rhee’s pay proposal back in August 2008 vaulted the district to the top of the national education scene. An amazing amount of press coverage followed.

Fairly or unfairly, the negotiations were often depicted as ground zero for education reform, with the hard-charging Rhee and the equally hard-charging Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, WTU’s parent union, cast in dueling roles.

We’ll have a full story for you at edweek.org soon, so check back soon.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.