Sol Stern is a man with a plan. The 2009 New York City teacher contract is set to expire three days before Election Day, and Mayor Bloomberg's overturning of term limits mean the United Federation of Teachers and that hizzoner will be going to bat once more. This is a golden opportunity, explains Stern, to make some fundamental--but politically feasible--changes that will, once and for all, put the needs of students above adults. His suggestions number seven. Among them, there's reforming of the teacher lockstep pay scale to better reflect meaningful steps to improve their practice. And there's using master teachers as instructional leaders and mentors instead of more expensive and administratively-minded associate principals. Stern's not here to mince words. On the subject of retaining good teachers, he blames, in part, rookies' ill-preparation: "Klein and Weingarten should deliver a joint message to education facilities (i.e., ed schools): the city's new teachers need to learn how to manage classrooms in tough neighborhoods, not how to regurgitate the radical education theories of Paulo Freire, William Ayers, and Jonathan Kozol." Stern would also like to see the renaissance of the Chancellor's District, a turnaround zone that included all of the city's underperforming schools, and which Klein abolished in 2003. These schools should then be given freer rein to copy the successful practices of charter schools, since, "after all, that was the charter-school experiment's original purpose--to be a laboratory for innovative education practices." If Bloomberg, Klein, and Weingarten know what's good for them, they'll take this treatise seriously come November.
"A Teachers' Contract for a New Era," by Sol Stern, City Journal, July 21, 2009