By guest blogger Alyssa Morones
Cleveland took one step closer toward implementing its Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools on May 31, when teachers voted to approve a new three-year contract with the district, 2,414 to 968.
The contract with the Cleveland Teachers Union earlier in May was approved by the school board with a unanimous vote on May 14.
In an interview with the Cleveland Sun News, CTU President David Quolke said that this vote "once again highlights that Cleveland teachers and educators are willing to lead school reform efforts in Cleveland."
The Cleveland Plan, proposed in February 2012 by Mayor Frank G. Jackson, was originally criticized by the teachers' union. But eventually the union was consulted on the details, and the collaboration later won praise from Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the CTU's parent. The contract carries over aspects of the plan that needed to be bargained.
The biggest change the contract will bring about is a revamped "differentiated compensation" salary system. While there will still be a 15-step pay system, teachers' placements will depend on their performance, specialized qualifications, and duties instead of years of service and college degrees or courses. In doing so, it moves closer to AFT districts such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Newark that also have shifted away from traditional salary scales.
Teacher layoffs and recalls will now give more weight to performance and qualifications than to seniority. The contract also includes changes to teacher evaluations required by state law and contained in the Cleveland Plan.
Teachers, nurses, and counselors also will receive an additional $14 million dollars over the next three years. A four percent pay increase for the 2013-14 school year will acknowledge the additional time teachers have already been putting in meeting with families and collaborating with colleagues. There will be no increase the second year, but salaries would again increase by one percent during the 2015-16 school year.
The new contract adds 100 more minutes each week of teach contact with students, sets smaller class size goals, and puts teacher hiring and assignment in the hands of school-based teams, among other changes.