This week, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Bloomberg administration reached agreement on a new contract for New York City public school educators (who worked without any contract for nearly two years). So who won? Diane Ravitch, writing in the New York Sun, notes that UFT President Randi Weingarten scored big in her battle to stave off the Klein regime's tyranny of progressivism: "The Department of Education will no longer be able to reprimand teachers based on the state of the classroom bulletin board, the arrangement of classroom furniture, or the duration of lessons." (For an explanation of why teachers felt it necessary to put such mundane matters into the contract, click here and here.) Furthermore, the deal includes an across-the-board pay raise for the city's teachers. On the Bloomberg side, the contract eliminates seniority "bumping" rights, whereby veteran teachers get first pick of the best teaching jobs, and trims a bit of red tape surrounding the teacher dismissal process. But that's about all. According to frequent critic Andrew Wolf, Chancellor Klein was the big loser. "Two weeks ago, at a conference in Washington, Mr. Klein boasted of a 'second term' strategy that would provide for comprehensive merit pay differentials [See Gadfly coverage here]...[but] none of these merit pay proposals is incorporated in the contract." Plus, as New York reformer Sol Stern explained to us, the biggest wage increases go to experienced teachers at the top of the salary scale, who are already more likely to be found in the city's more affluent neighborhoods. Newly recruited teachers get far smaller gains, even in percentage terms. Hence the agreement could widen the funding gap between rich and poor schools instead of providing incentives for teachers to volunteer for tougher assignments. Overall, the contract's hardly a resounding "win for the kids."
"City Reaches Tentative Deal With Teachers," by David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, October 4, 2005
"A Win for the Kids," New York Post editorial, October 4, 2005
"The UFT Agreement," by Diane Ravitch, New York Sun, October 4, 2005
"The UFT Agreement," by Andrew Wolf, New York Sun, October 4, 2005
"Schooling Ferrer," by Sol Stern, New York Sun, September 30, 2005