Good day.

The Transfer List is Out “€” Deadline Friday!

The deadline for application is this Friday midnight, and we encourage all people who have applied for positions to call the principal or headmaster of the school(s) they are seeking application to and ask for an interview. Personnel subcommittees should be in place at each school to review and interview applicants. Any questions, please call or e-mail Caren or Michael at 617-288-2000.

Community Forum on BTU/BPS Contract Negotiations

This past week a standing room-only crowd of approximately 400 attended a forum at the 12th Baptist Church in Roxbury. Superintendent Carol Johnson, BTU President Richard Stutman, a parent from the Dearborn, and a student from the Edward Kennedy Health Careers Horace Mann Charter School talked about their hopes for a settled, effective contract.

We noted that the school district ‘put the arm’ on its administrators to attend and their presence was noticed and appreciated. The school district sent out an e-mail on the afternoon of the forum asking all school administrators to attend.

In all, it was an excellent event, and there was a healthy, two hour-long discussion on the issues. An estimated 100-125 BTU members were in attendance. We thank all teachers and other BTU staff, both active and retired who attended this forum. We desire a contract that is good for students and fair to our members, no more and no less.

Superintendent’s Bulletin Misspeaks

The Superintendent and her team have recently begun publishing a weekly bulletin entitled “BPS this Week.” We commend the department’s effort, as we believe that the more information the better; provided, of course, that the information is complete and correct.

Last week, the Superintendent wrote about the status of negotiations. Some of her points do not, well, give an accurate picture of the Department’s position at the bargaining table. So we will clarify.

The excerpts from the Superintendent’s April 4 bulletin are printed verbatim in italic. Our corrections and/or amplifications are in regular type below.

BPS This Week
BTU negotiations continue with 20th session completed

BPS and the leadership of the Boston Teachers Union have met twenty times since beginning negotiations on a new teachers contract nearly one year ago. The most recent day-long bargaining session was on Friday. Our Acceleration Agenda will ensure that every child has a great teacher and every school is outstanding. Here are our priorities:

1. We’re calling for a longer school day and more teacher development time. Our students spend less time in class and our teachers have less professional development time than almost any district in the nation.

The school district is asking for an extension of the school day and work year without providing any additional compensation. It is an often-repeated distortion that we spend less time in professional development than almost any other district in the nation. The study that the superintendent is relying on did not include the annual 18 PD hours nor does it include the amount of additional time spent in pilot schools, extended learning time schools, turnaround schools, Horace Mann Charter schools, and the McKinley Schools.

Were all of these omissions properly calculated, properly weighted, and factored in, our place in the national standing which shift dramatically. What’s more, it presents a false picture to look at time spent in school as the amount of time from bell to bell. Everyone knows that the true measure of a teacher’s workday is not calculated bell to bell. Any true look at a teacher day must include all time spent in preparation, meetings, PD, lesson planning, student consultation, and so on. To not mention so degrades our profession and minimizes what we do.

2. We’re calling for a streamlined evaluation system that helps good teachers become great and looks at whether students are actually learning. We use MCAS as one measure of student progress. We should also use it to measure ourselves.

On the negotiating table are a host of issues designed to improve teaching and learning. We support improving our schools, and we agree that many factors contribute to helping our students learn. The school apartment’s exclusive- and quite narrow – focus has been to streamline the evaluation system. Our main focus has been on helping teachers who need help and making the evaluation system fairer. We also have raised a series of other issues, like installing a targeted reading program in every school and lowering class size in schools that need help. The school district has no apparent interest in either of these issues.

Lastly, we do not agree that we should use the MCAS to measure ourselves. It is a test that is supposed to measure student progress, and it was never intended to measure teacher progress. Student progress can be measured — and should be measured — by a host of indicators, not just a single standardized test. A teacher’s effectiveness can only be measured by a wide and varied system of measures as well.

3. We want our principals and headmasters to have a say in who teaches in their schools and how classes are scheduled to better serve students. Today, teachers can move from one school to another without ever meeting their new principal; and principals lack flexibility to adjust class schedules to meet student needs.

This is a flat-out distortion. Principals and headmasters have a say in who teaches in the school if they wish to take advantage of the many opportunities. Most vacancies – in fact, the overwhelming majority of vacancies – are filled exclusively by principals, who have complete control over whom they hire. To the extent principals and headmasters do not ‘meet’ an incoming teacher, that is their fault.

In both reassignment processes — transfer and excessing –principals have the authority to schedule interviews, which 99% of our teachers want. The problem, if there is one, lies with principals who don’t participate in this activity.

Here’s an example: Two weeks ago the school district scheduled a job fair for teachers from schools that are about to be closed. The activity was held in English High School and many eager teachers attended to try do find a suitable assignment for next year. Only 40% of the affected principals bothered to show up, according to our estimate. That was a lost opportunity to meet these teachers. And whose fault was that?

4. We believe new teachers deserve higher salaries, but big raises should never be automatic. Evaluations, feedback from parents and students, and professionalism in the classroom should be expected, not optional. We believe excellence should be recognized and rewarded. The Boston Municipal Research Bureau released an extensive report on our current salary structure this winter. Read “The Real Cost of the Contract” here.

The superintendent’s proposal is to eliminate automatic step increases for teachers in their first nine years. That’s what she’s referring to when she mentions ‘big raises.’

We also believe excellence and extraordinary effort should be recognized and rewarded, and we have proposed that the district set up a mechanism, a career path, to give teachers added responsibility and additional compensation. Unlike the Superintendent, however, we do not want to eliminate step increases or Salary Lane adjustments for added academic attainment.

Dr. Johnson will present an overview of our priorities at a community forum this Wednesday night from 5:30-8pm at Twelfth Baptist Church, 160 Warren St., in Roxbury. The forum is hosted by Boston United for Students, a collaboration of more than 40 community groups that have joined together to push for important reforms in the BTU contract.

It is not a ‘BTU’ Contract. It is a ‘BTU-BPS’ contract. Both sides agreed to it and both sides signed it. In fact, the School District and Mayor Menino, along with the BTU, held a joint press conference four years ago to announce its terms. It is a joint contract whose terms are responsible for having one of the best urban school districts in the nation as measured by the NAEP test.

BTU Union News and Events

BTU Membership Meeting: Wednesday, April 13

John Brouder, BTU consultant on health insurance, will speak and give an overview of what changes in health coverage are being talked about on Beacon Hill. This is an important topic obviously and Mr. Brouder will have up-to-date information for all to take back to their buildings.

Also, at the meeting, we will be handing out the lawn signs again. We still have a few, and we want you to plant them on your lawns, whether you live in Boston or outside the city. We have already given away a few thousand signs, but we still have many left.

Candidates for BTU Elective Office

Anyone running for BTU office is able to purchase address labels for BTU members if he/she wants to contact members by mail.  He/she can also purchase building representative labels.

Education in the News

New Study Shows High Drop Out Rate at KIPP Charter (a franchise of which is coming to Boston)  for Black Males

KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from, but 40 percent of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8, says a new nationwide study by researchers at Western Michigan University written up in Education Week.

“The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking,” said Gary J. Miron, a professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, and the lead researcher for the study. “KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come.”

Read more about the study.

KIPP Academy Boston Charter School will open in Fall 2012. The school will be located in Boston and will enroll a maximum of 588 students in grades K-8.

Visit the State DOE website to see a list of all charter schools approved for opening in Fall 2012.

Obama: Too Much Testing;
Duncan: Not Enough Testing
Obama: Nevermind…I’m with Duncan

Does President Obama believe standardized testing has gone too far?

Mr. Obama criticized “high-stakes” tests last week at a town-hall-style meeting, contrasting them with less-pressured tests his daughters took in their Washington private school. Those remarks, which did not receive wide coverage at the time, have since prompted close followers of education policy to wonder whether the president opposes his own Education Department.

Read more in the NY Times article.

NYC School Chancellor Ousted

NYC Mayor Bloomberg and ex NYC School Chief BlackThe embattled NYC School Chief, Cathleen Black, was asked to resign after a short three months on the job. Her resignation was unexpected, though her brief tenure had been under intense scrutiny and criticism.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg chose Ms. Black from the publishing world to head arguably the most difficult-to-manage school, system in America. Bloomberg thought her excellent background in management would translate easily into her being able to run the NYC school system.

Her background as a publishing executive didn’t translate well into the education field, in which she had no experience. Little wonder. Her brief term was marked by miscue after miscue, including a verbal gaffe wherein she wondered aloud if better practice of birth control might not lead to less school overcrowding. She later apologized for her remark. The mayor cut his losses last week when he asked her to resign.

Read more about her dismissal.

Citizens for Public Schools Hosts Richard Rothstein Speaking Event

Thursday April 14, 2011, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Church on the Hill
40 Bowdoin Street, Boston

Rothstein is the former national education columnist for the New York Times and acclaimed author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. He is one of the most incisive, clear, powerful voices on what’s wrong with current education and social policy and, more importantly, what can be done to fix things.

This event is sponsored by the Citizens for Public Schools, of which the BTU is a member organization, and is open to the general public.

Late Filers….
IRS IRSBTU Dues Information 2010

Teachers $1093.60
Paras $546.80:

Career and Professional Development Opportunities

Teach Plus Teacher Leaders

Teach Plus is currently accepting applications from elementary and middle school teachers who are interested in joining the Dearborn Middle School and Orchard Gardens K-8 as teacher leaders in the T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams initiative. Apply here.

Visit the BTU website to see other career and professional development opportunities.

Retirement Parties

Retirement Party for Rosa Bodden and Karen Silipigno
June 16, 2011, 6:00 11:00 P.M
at the Quincy Marriott

$60.00 per person includes gift
Make checks payable to Donalee Dixon, 3 Kovey Road, Hyde Park MA 02131

The BTU Online

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Richard Stutman
Boston Teachers Union