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Seattle Teachers Approve Contract, Avert Strike

By guest blogger Liana Heitin

With a show of hands last night, Seattle teachers voted to approve a new two-year contract, ending the possibility of a strike and ensuring that students returned to school on time today.

About half the city's 3,000 teachers were present for the vote, reports The Seattle Times. Attendees estimated that about 40 percent of the teachers present voted against the agreement, in the hopes of going back to the bargaining table.

While the details of the contract have yet to be formally released, the proposal was leaked (see the outline that was leaked below). Some of the critical points are as follows:

  • Teachers will receive a 2 percent raise this year and a 2.5 percent raise for 2014-15. The Seattle Times reports that "the pay increases are the biggest that teachers have received in five years."
  • While the union had requested the district suspend the use of test scores in evaluations for two years as schools move over to new state tests (in what had become a sticking point), this did not make it into the agreement. The district will continue to use test scores in teacher evaluations, even as it develops a new evaluation system, and low growth in test scores will trigger further inquiry into a teacher's performance. However, it's interesting to note that, according to the leaked documents, teachers did get a win here in that Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests will no longer be used for evaluations—something Seattle teachers had fought for through boycotts that put them in the national spotlight.
  • The workday for elementary teachers will be extended by 30 minutes (making it equal to that of middle and high school teachers). According to the leaked documents, this will be "self-directed time" for teachers.

The contract also lays out a new special education delivery model, which includes new staffing ratios, defined "remedies" for teachers whose caseloads exceed the allotted ratio, and more professional development. The district and union agreed to this portion early in negotiations.

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