No teachers strike, but School Board says historic education reform will receive no funding
This afternoon at 4:30, Seattle's teachers will vote on a historic contract with the District. For the first time since collective bargaining came to public education, the concept of teacher performance will become part of a collective bargaining agreement. Until now, considerations of teacher performance and merit pay have been anathema to union negotiators.
But requiring more of teachers is an idea sweeping across the nation, as the public recognizes that schools have to improve and that the key to student learning is the quality of the teacher in classroom. As observed by Seattle teacher Chris Eide at last night's Seattle School board meeting: "Student achievement is the true measure of the value of a teacher."
Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Seattle School Board members deserve credit for this negotiating this ground-breaking contract, reached after four months of difficult and arduous negotiations.
The new agreement puts school principals back in the center of the process for evaluating teachers (as recommended by our Education Reform Plan). Excellent teachers will be rewarded with bonuses of from $3,400 to $5,400, and those willing to teach in the most challenging schools will receive additional rewards. All teachers will receive a pay increase of 1% in the second and third years of this agreement, but no increase this year.
Unfortunately, School Board members are providing no funding for the agreement. Apparently they plan to ask voters this fall for a special tax increase to pay for rewarding good teachers in public schools.
This is disappointing. The signal policy improvement for Seattle school children is left unfunded. School Board members have placed their most important education reform at the bottom of their funding priorities.
The people of Seattle are generous in funding public schools. The School Board is spending $566 million in the current budget to educate 45,000 children. School Board members have ample resources to make this new reform work - they don’t need another increase in the tax burden to begin improving the education of Seattle’s children.