First day of school is Tuesday, September 7, which is a shared day. The administration gets three hours and our members get three hours. See below detailed explanation. As part of our first day activities, BTU Building Reps will run a :30 workshop in our buildings detailing the rights and benefits of being a BTU member. The opening-day newspaper that is customarily handed out that day is being sent this week to all BTU Reps of record as of June, 2010. Sufficient copies will be mailed to each school. If you need additional copies, call the office today. You can also see the edition on-line
Teacher orientation was held at U Mass. and the BTU had a table of volunteers present to meet some of our new teachers, nearly 370 in number. Please extend a warm welcome to our new members as you meet them this week and next.
Now for the news…
The Globe and the Herald ran pieces this week detailing the upcoming collective bargaining talks. No surprise here. We began talks on a successor contract in March and will continue until we reach agreement. We will keep you posted. What we hope to obtain in these talks is a contract that is good for both students and our members. These twin goals are not mutually exclusive–no matter what propaganda the public is fed. The targeted reading program we are seeking, the team of social service providers we are seeking, and the improvement of our schools’ infrastructure–these are worthy goals, and we are proud of them. We also seek to keep Boston as a desirable place so as to attract and retain the best teachers. And that means keeping our benefit and salary package competitive. This, too, is a worthy goal.
A large issue looming in upcoming talks is the length of the teacher work day. There are many different ways to calculate ‘work’ day. Everyone knows that the teacher work day does not start at the first bell nor end at the last. There’ll be no preaching to the converted in this space. Reasonable estimates add another two hours per day to the so-called, on-the-clock teacher day of either 6:30 (elementary) or 6:40 (secondary).
All of this said, here’s what the superintendent said last week in the Herald: “Great teachers should be paid well, but they should work at least seven hours a day.” She told the WBZ audience on the Dan Rea show last week that our work day and year is in the lowest 2% among the country’s top 100 school districts. For that claim, she relied on data gathered by the National Center of Teacher Quality (NCTQ). A few business leaders essentially reiterated this claim later last week at a press conference. Here’s the problem: The claim is based on misleading data.
- Only elementary schools were considered in their data gathering. Secondary schools in Boston have a longer day than elementary schools.
- NCTQ incorrectly stated that Boston teachers work 182 days per year. We work 183 plus another 18 hours.
- The 18 hours weren’t counted. That adds another 3 days.
- 10% of our staff work in pilot schools, for an additional 30 to 145 (or more) hours per year
- 10% of our staff work in Turnaround Schools, for another 190 hours per year
- We have four extended day programs and four McKinkleys–many hundreds more staff work up to 2 hours extra per day
Bottom line: These few corrections would drastically change our national ranking.