IT Infrastructure & Management

Online Teacher-Contract Database Launched

By Vaishali Honawar — January 05, 2007 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new Web site gives users instant access to teacher-contract data in the nation’s 50 largest school districts, but teachers’ unions are warning against taking some of the information at face value.

The database does not offer any information that is not on the public record. But it brings together in a single, searchable site collective bargaining agreements, school board policies, laws pertaining to teachers, and teacher handbooks for the 50 districts.

Learn more about NCTQ‘s online research portal, Teacher Roles, Rules, and Rights.

“Much of this information is not readily available right now,” said Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council for Teacher Quality, the Washington-based advocacy group that created the database. Even those who work closely on education issues, she said, often know very little about collective bargaining agreements and their contents.

Ms. Walsh said that, besides policymakers, she hopes parents and journalists will use the database to inform themselves. She said her organization hopes to add 50 more districts within a year.

Along with viewing copies of teacher contracts, visitors to the Web site can search for specific data such as salaries, tenure, and leave, and they can compare information across districts.

For instance, it takes just a few keystrokes to find out that a teacher in California’s Fresno school district gets an average of 60 minutes to prepare for class each day, while a teacher in the state’s San Diego schools gets an average of just nine minutes. Another quick search reveals that California’s Long Beach district, which enrolls 92,000 students, pays the highest starting salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree—$47,653—while a teacher starting out in the New York City district, which has 1.1 million students, makes $44,849.

Information on class sizes, grievance procedures, transfers, and benefits will be added in the coming months.

Only Part of the Picture

The database, which was launched Jan. 4, has raised some worries among the national teachers’ unions. Officials contend that some of the data are not as simple to interpret as the Web site makes it appear.

“One concern we have is that as people look at the contracts, they should not draw conclusions without enough information,” said Bill Raabe, the director of collective bargaining and member advocacy for the National Education Association.

At Your Fingertips

A database unveiled last week culls information from teacher contracts in the nation’s 50 largest school districts. Users can sort through it to find out about salaries, leave, professional development, and a host of other provisions. Among the tidbits:

Highest starting salaries for teachers with a master’s degree:

    New York City: $50,353
    Long Beach, Calif.: $47,656
    Fulton County, Ga.: $47,400
    Prince George’s County,Md: $47,279
    Montgomery County, Md.: $46,463

Off-classroom duties for teachers:

    Fresno, Calif: Bus arrival and departure
    Broward County, Fla.: Recess
    Detroit: Off-campus events
    Milwaukee: Study hall, hall monitoring
    Anne Arundel County, Md.: Supervising student arrival, departure

Sick leave for teachers:

    Hawaii (statewide district): 18 days
    Jordan, Utah: 10-15 days
    Dekalb County, Ga.: 12.5 days
    Mesa, Ariz.: 11 days
    Dallas: 5 days

SOURCE: National Council for Teacher Quality

For instance, he said, a database search might reveal that not all districts have policies on class sizes in their teacher contracts. But not all state bargaining laws include class size as an issue for labor negotiations, and the district could have its own policy on class size, or there could be a state law dealing with the issue, he said.

“Having information in one place is great, but as people look at the database they have to understand that it is part of the whole picture,” Mr. Raabe said.

Ms. Walsh said that while she understands the concerns, it is also important for people to find information on teacher contracts more easily than they have been able to until now. Although unions maintain their own searchable databases of such contracts, they are not open to the public.

“Our mission is not to bash teacher unions. … There is no agenda other than this is important to know,” said Ms. Walsh, who has often differed with the unions on such issues as teacher certification.

Ms. Walsh said what surprised her as her organization worked on the database was how little influence collective bargaining agreements have on some aspects of education such as the length of the school day.

It took the teacher-quality council’s staff nearly a year to collect the data for the 50 school districts and organize it—something even Mr. Raabe acknowledges is a “huge project.”

Obstacles in Vetting

Checking the information for accuracy presented its own problems. While some unions and districts agreed to vet the information, others simply refused to respond to the NCTQ’s request, Ms. Walsh said.

In fact, only seven union locals—those in Brevard County in Florida, Granite and Jordan Counties in Utah, Guilford County in North Carolina, Houston, New York City, and Philadelphia—agreed to verify the information. Eleven districts failed to respond.

Some locals said they would have been happy to cooperate, but the requests were either not received or had fallen through the cracks.

A spokeswoman for the Detroit Federation of Teachers, for instance, said her union did not receive any of the requests from Ms. Walsh’s office, which sent out at least two, one in September and another in November.

“This is a matter of public record, and we have nothing to hide. We give that information to the public all the time,” said DFT spokeswoman Michelle Price.

If there are any errors on the Web site, Ms. Walsh said, districts and unions can fill out a feedback form on the site and request a correction.

The group will also regularly update the site with new agreements and archive old ones.

Observers lauded the Web site as “truly innovative,” and hoped to see more in coming months.

“I’d like to see, moving forward, queries that allow users to find out which unions bargain on issues directly related to curriculum and instruction,” said Russlynn Ali, the executive director of Education Trust-West, the Oakland, Calif., branch of the group that promotes rigorous academic standards, especially for disadvantaged students.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2007 edition of Education Week as Online Teacher-Contract Database Launched


School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

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

IT Infrastructure & Management It's Not Just About AI. Schools Are Facing 5 Other Tech Challenges, Too
In addition to the use of AI in education, schools must pay attention to several big tech challenges.
4 min read
A cybersecurity icon over a computer classroom seen through a screen of binary code.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
IT Infrastructure & Management Ed-Tech Companies Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks. A New Federal Effort Wants to Help
The Education Department is teaming up with a top research university to stem a wave of cyberattacks on schools.
4 min read
Image of lock on binary code background.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management Leader To Learn From Through Wars, Tornadoes, and Cyberattacks, He's a Guardian of Student Privacy
Jun Kim, the technology director in Moore, Okla., works to make the most of innovations—without endangering student data.
11 min read
Jun Kim, Director of Technology for Moore Public Schools, center, leads a data privacy review meeting on Dec. 13, 2023 in Moore, Okla.
Jun Kim, director of technology for the Moore public schools in Moore, Okla., leads a data privacy review for staff.
Brett Deering for Education Week
IT Infrastructure & Management One Solution to Maintaining 1-to-1 Devices? Pay Students to Repair Them
Hiring students to help with the repair process is one way school districts are ensuring the sustainability of their 1-to-1 programs.
4 min read
Sawyer Wendt, a student intern for the Altoona school district’s IT department, repairs a Chromebook.
Sawyer Wendt, who's been a student intern for the Altoona district's tech department since junior year, is now studying IT software development in college.
Courtesy of Jevin Stangel, IT technician for the Altoona school district