Good morning and welcome back. We in the BTU office are looking forward to working on your behalf to improve our schools. We know you have many things to do today, so we will be brief. Here’s information that you need to know about contract negotiations.
- We have made the school district a fair and reasonable offer (PDF) that will end this 27-month long process. The offer is good until 5 PM this afternoon: we will accept their salary proposal if they will accept the state’s model contract language on performance evaluation (PDF). The state’s model contract language is more sophisticated than the city’s and more conducive to effective teaching and learning. It provides more help and assistance for struggling teachers, including timely feedback. It has been developed with input from teachers and approved by the state. The state’s language is imperfect, but is better and fairer. (See Boston Globe report.)
- The savings garnered from our acceptance of the lower salary offer MUST be used to hire six additional nurses, eight social workers, substitute paraprofessionals for special education classes, and a system wide reduction in class size by one student in Grades 6 and grade 9. Our neediest students need and deserve better services.
- The superintendent has been a no-show throughout this process, and second-in-command Michael Goar, even after writing to us on July 26 that he was seeking “continuous bargaining sessions,” has been a virtual no-show as well over the last three critical weeks of mediation.
- The School Department negotiating team has refused to meet with us face-to-face since August 13.
- The School Department has rejected without comment through the mediator each and every proposal we have placed on the table in the last three weeks. None of the items is a pure “salary” item.
- The School Department continues to lie about our position on unsatisfactory veteran teachers and time to improve. While we do believe our members deserve reasonable time and support to fix identified problems, we have never said during this round of negotiations that they should have a full year. To say otherwise is a straight-out lie designed to make us look bad in the public eye. Here’s what a department spokesperson was quoted as saying last week to WBUR:
“But assistant superintendent Ross Wilson says Boston Public Schools feels the state’s guidelines for handling underperforming teachers are too lenient.
“‘They want to protect teachers who are unsatisfactory and, in fact, want to give them a year to improve,'” Wilson said. “‘We believe a year, that no child should be in a classroom with an ineffective teacher for a year. It is way too long.'”
The truth is, we have never said “(we) want to give them a year.” The last BTU-developed proposal, submitted on August 15 to the School Department through the mediator, stated 90 school days for an improvement plan — nowhere near a year. Dr. Wilson knows this well: He has represented management at the negotiating table for 27 months. We challenge him to prove his assertion.
- Finally, the superintendent and her leadership team ought to come out of hiding and meet with us face to face. Let’s also have a public debate on the issues that concern us. The public has a right to know the superintendent’s opinion on these critical issues.