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D.C. Teacher Contract Headed Toward Ratification

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District of Columbia teachers are nearing the end of a voting period on a new contract that would give them substantial pay raises over a five-year period.

The contract, which Washington Teachers Union president George Parker tells The Washington Post he expects teachers to ratify when voting closes tomorrow morning, gives Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee unprecedented power in the Nation's Capital to pay teachers based on performance and to move underperforming teachers more swiftly.

Results of the teachers' vote are expected to be released late tomorrow or Thursday, and we'll be sure to update you here on edweek.org. You can check out a copy of the actual ballot here.

The road toward this contract has been anything but smooth. Rhee announced her proposed contract in August 2008, which would have given teachers the opportunity to earn up to six figures in exchange for giving up tenure. What followed was a contentious battle for more than two years.

And even after the teachers' union and Rhee came to agreement in early April, more hurdles remained.

Shortly after the tentative agreement was reached, infighting broke out in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration between Rhee and Natwar M. Gandhi, D.C.'s chief financial officer over whether the city had enough money to pay for the contract.

Gandhi had particular concerns over using foundation funding to pay for raises and threatened to not certify the contract as fiscally viable, which would have kept the city council from approving the deal. He was concerned about the conditions the foundations placed on continuing to fund the teacher raises—which included specific test-score increases and stable leadership at the top of D.C. schools.

After weeks of haggling, city officials announced in mid-May they'd made cuts in other areas to afford the teacher contract, clearing the path for its approval.

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