New Haven teachers rally behind landmark contract
BY A LANDSLIDE vote of 842-39, teachers in New Haven, Conn., ratified a new contract that builds wages, benefits and the groundwork for a breakout model of urban school reform - one that keeps the teacher's voice in all key decisions.
The New Haven Federation of Teachers announced the results of the decisive Oct. 13 vote for a new four-year pact, which was hailed by the media as "a first-in-the-nation agreement between a city and a teachers union to work together to change the way public schools work." The deal, which takes effect in July 2010, includes average salary increases amounting to 12 percent over four years, increased medical contributions by the employer, and reform initiatives aimed at closing the gap in student achievement.
"We have no problem being held accountable, but it has to be top-to-bottom accountability," stressed local union president David Cicarella, who said the NHFT negotiating team took an aggressive position on evaluation, turnaround schools and other thorny issues in order to shape the agenda and drive the final product toward solutions that are good for kids and fair to teachers. He credits the negotiators' ability to win gains on all fronts - wages, benefits and school reform - for the overwhelming vote of support.
The deal quickly generated nationwide attention. "This is a really important, progressive labor agreement," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "It's one …