First off, I haven't decided for sure that I like the new contract. I'm going to write about it and think about it and talk about it for the next several weeks until the ratification vote. But, so far, so good. I like it more as I hear more about it.
I'm tweeting a lot more than blogging these days (140 characters easier than a thoughtful blog post with my load), but I think -- think -- I like the new contract.
I have had horrible administrations before, administrations that are vindictive, bullying, etc. I have been the object of said bullying. So, I understand the need for protections to guard against needless firing, bullying tactics, etc. It can be really bad.
But, I also have been the victim of what I see as unfair salary structures. I have worked alongside teachers who leave everyday 5 minutes after the bell ring and miss 20 days a year and make more money than me because they have a Master's Dgree (I have mine now) or because they have been in the system longer. They ditto the kids to death as their lesson plans.
This is frustrating to me and any good teacher. I did not go into teaching for the money but to see colleagues over the years pull in huge salaries for teaching a couple of classes is detrimental to morale. I have craved for a system that rewards good teaching.
The rub, of course, is how to measure that. But the details of the new contract that I've heard suggest that the ways the new contract will do it will be fair. This is what I heard from my union rep today:
1) It's not about achievement; it's about growth. Kids aren't being compared with previous year's kids, but with how they come into your classroom with how they leave it. That's what teaching is.
2) I'll now actually be encouraged to do things like go to national conferences to better my teaching. I was already intrinsically motivated to do this, and, for example, dropped a thousand bucks last year to go to (and present at) the NCTE. With this new contract, I could use that as a point to move to the next salary level.
3) I'll now have some financial incentive to be involved in more extracurricular activities and mentorship. I was already motivated, but I see no reason why there isn't financial incentive as well. Contributing to the school community is what good teaching is.
4) No one's salary will drop. And we all get a pretty substantial raise.
A) I haven't heard what the student-performance instrument is yet. Teacher-developed? System-developed? Course specific?
B) Who is this 'panel' that will decide whether you have gone to the next salary level?
C) What red tape will there be for having these review-boards meet?
D) In general, what happens to non-tested areas? I don't teach an HSA class. What happens to my Theater teacher friend? Health? That needs to be spelled out.
There seems to be plenty of opportunities for disparity, cronyism, etc. But I like the ideas and look forward to the debates about it over the next few weeks. I hope some checks and balances will be in there, and won't vote for it if there aren't. But I like thinking outside-the-box. I like a lot of what I hear about.
And we'll be getting paid.
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