NEW AGREEMENT PAVES THE WAY FOR KEY IMPROVEMENTS TO SPECIAL EDUCATION AND INCLUSION SYSTEM AND STAFFING
BOSTON – An overwhelming majority of members of the Boston Teachers Union voted Wednesday to ratify a new three-year contract with Boston Public Schools. The agreement takes major steps forward on key district inclusion policies and practices, includes raises for educators, and improves staffing in many key areas to benefit students and the community.
Educators see the agreement as a way to boost student learning, advance key equity goals and to provide for the needs of Boston students in this phase of the pandemic and beyond.
“Our members have been laser focused on improving student outcomes and building a more equitable public education system in Boston. They see this contract as taking significant steps towards providing the resources and tools to deliver on that vision,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “For more than a year, our members, united with parents, students, and community allies, have been advocating for a contract that addresses the district’s structural challenges and our students’ unique needs. This contract helps us move forward toward creating the schools our students deserve.”
As previously reported, the agreement will help advance educators’ vision for a fully inclusive school district where there is a clear and resourced commitment to educate each child in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. This bottom-up model facilitates a higher level of collaboration among educators, including teachers of special education, teachers of English learners, related service providers, and support staff to provide the highest quality education for every child.
As part of this forward-thinking effort, the contract includes key overhauls in the district’s approach to special education in order to better meet student and family needs, modeled on innovative solutions advocated for by the union, including targeted reductions in class sizes and taking a collaborative approach with educators voices in assessing the needs of students who have individualized education plans (IEPs) and/or who are English Learners and planning for the conditions that will best facilitate the fulfillment of their services and needs.
The contract will cover more than 8,000 active teachers and other professionals who work in the Boston Public School system, including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, social workers, paraprofessionals, applied behavior analysis therapists and substitute teachers.
The contract ratification comes at the kickoff of the 2022-23 school year, which began last Thursday. The contract is retroactive to September 2021 when the last contract expired, and will last through 2024.
The Boston School Committee will be voting on whether to approve the contract now that the contract has been ratified by members of the BTU.
Following an extensive community input process that included conversations and forums with thousands of families, educators, and community members over several months, the Boston Teachers Union developed a package of proposals and priorities. Many of these were secured in the final agreement, including the following:
- Academic Supports – BPS committed to ensuring that all students have the needed academic support within the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework, in which problem-solving and decision making is data driven and practiced across all levels of the educational system in order to support students.
- Staff Training – The district will make additional funding commitments toward professional development around inclusion policies and best practices, including training and coaching for school leaders, special and general education teachers, related service providers, and school psychologists.
- Planning Time and Input for Educators – Teacher planning time and preparation is critical and BPS will ensure that all teachers have additional time to develop lesson plans collaboratively. Together, BPS and BTU will ensure that decisions regarding IEPs are made through a team process consistent with state and federal law.
- Inclusive Education Liaison – For school years 2022-2023 to 2026-2027, the parties will fund an Inclusive Education Liaison who will play a critical role in implementing the shared vision of an inclusive district.
- Paid Parental Leave – Expanding the City of Boston’s family leave policy to all education staff, including many positions within BPS that were previously excluded.
- Facilities – Provides greater transparency regarding facilities work orders in BPS buildings to improve classroom conditions, common area conditions, and other facility conditions.
- Housing Support – The agreement includes a commitment by the City to provide key housing support to unhoused families including a related pilot program.
- Compensation Improvements – The agreement includes wage increases of 9.5% over the life of the three-year pact.
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About the Boston Teachers Union
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 active and retired teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout Boston. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.