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N.Y.C. Teachers' Union Votes to Approve New Contract, With 77 Percent in Favor

New York City teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, and others who belong to the United Federation of Teachers approved a nine-year contract on June 3, with 77 percent voting in favor.

The new contract includes back pay dating to 2009 as well as new raises worth some18 percent in total. The back pay will be spread out over the contract's duration to ease the pressure on city budgets. 

As to the specific provisions in the contract, there are far more questions than answers. Some have questioned a move to allot time previously used for instruction to teachers' professional development. A career-ladder system for teachers isn't well defined yet, while a pay incentive for teachers to go to hard-to-staff schools doesn't require applicants to have the highest evaluation scores. A school flexibility program is modeled on an existing provision that hasn't been much used.

It's also unclear whether the $1.3 billion in health-care savings promised in the pact might ultimately require teachers to contribute to health premiums for the first time. And practically nobody is happy with a plan to give teachers without placements "tryouts" in schools—and an expedited dismissal process if they engage in "problematic behavior," a term that's not defined. 

UFT also faced a lot of opposition to the contract from one of its internal caucuses, the Movement of Rank and File Educators, a small but growing group that argues that the union's top brass has been too willing to compromise and isn't in touch with what the rank-and-file wants.

So there's a lot to examine over the coming months and years. We'll dig in. 

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