Michelle Rhee and the Washington Teachers Union have reached a tentative union contract which “will boost the average annual salary of a D.C. educator from $67,000 to about $81,000 and gives the city’s public school teachers salaries comparable to those in surrounding suburban districts, according to a union survey,” according to the Washington Post.
In 2007 the Washington Post called the D.C. Public Schools system “among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation.”
The Washington Post reports that the tentative agreement (pdf) with the Washington Teachers Union
- redefines tenure as a due-process mechanism instead of “guarantee[ing]” of “lifetime employment,”
- launches a “voluntary performance pay program to begin this fall could add $20,000 to $30,000 to D.C. teachers’ salaries, based on significant improvement in student test scores and other yet-to-be specified criteria” and funded by private foundations,
- creates a new teacher evaluation system that will use growth in test scores as one benchmark,” and
- ends the practice by which displaced teachers are guaranteed spots within the school system; it adds a series of financial incentives.
“The [D.C. teacher] payday stands out amid a wave of deep school budget cuts across the country,” reported Bill Turque on June 3 for the Post. “New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Wednesday, for instance, that his city will eliminate raises for its public school teachers and principals over the next two years to avoid deep job reductions.”
“The mayor’s statement portrayed the decision as final, but in his own statement, Mr. [Michael] Mulgrew [president of the United Federation of Teachers] said that the mayor did not have the power to take such a step,” wrote Jennifer Medina for the New York Times City Room blog on June 2. “The union’s contract with the city expired in October, and negotiations over the current contract are at an impasse.”
Ben Smith & Maggie Haberman, writing for Politico on June 6, argue that unions have become “the whipping boys for a new generation of governors who, thanks to a tanking economy and an assist from editorial boards, feel freer than ever to make political targets out of what was once a protected liberal class of teachers, cops, and other public servants.”
State and local government employees cost substantially more than their private counterparts, indicated a March 10, 2010 press release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) release, which indicated that “Private industry employers spent an average of $27.42 per hour worked for total employee compensation in December 2009” whereas “Total compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $39.60 per hour worked in December 2009” (emphasis in original).
The next ECEC is scheduled for June 9, 2010, according to the BLS release.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.