I've been hemming, hawing, and debating the new contract, and finally have a little bit of confidence in it. It's still a bit of a cautious confidence, but I like some things about it. The BTU representative, plus a high school teacher on the negotiating committee, visited our school today and I feel quite a bit better about things.
My personal take:
1) My salary will remain almost exactly the same (a $195 raise) except for the one-time raises this year and next year. However, if I get a bunch of AUs -- 12 -- I can move up an "increment," which is about a $2500 raise.
2) No one knows what an AU is or how to get them -- exactly -- except that if you take classes, you get one AU per credit. They're "saying" there will be other ways to get them, and there will be a committee set up that is half-union, but this is still a bit of a worry. However, it also seems we can get them (12) if we get a Proficient evaluation, so that's good, and 9 if you get a satisfactory.
3) What made me excited about the contract initially was the ability to become a "Master Teacher," which would mean a $20,000 raise. There is no word on how this might happen, though, so that leads me to believe it will be very difficult. Which I suppose it should be, with all that money. Of course I will go for it right away but I'm not sure if it's possible.
The question of student performance is a state law. I was turned off by the union representative's repeated assertion that the contract and the student performance piece are totally disconnected, because, while it's true it's the state law, the contract will tie it to our evaluation and thus our salary. This ups the ante on it from it just being a state law. This, of course, is disquieting, because we have no idea how this will be measured, particularly with non-HSA courses. Still, I think I will still be able to get my usual Proficient evaluation. I hope so, at least. I never really cared about evaluations before or found them to be very meaningful; now, I suppose, it will really matter.
1) That the offices set up at North Avenue to handle all the AU-certification and all peer review panels will be a bundle of red tape. The union rep assured us that if this happens, there are contingencies to escape the contract.
2) That teachers will be on AU-snatching crusades all the time instead of doing actual teaching. The union rep today discussed planning after school "collaboration" as a possible AU. This seems fishy as hell to me.
3) That no one will actually become 'Master Teachers' because of red tape or because the specifications will be nearly impossible to meet.
However, these fears are being outweighed by excitement. Most importantly, I was able to hear from an actual teacher in a high school who had been part of the negotiating team. There's a real passion in what she says and I needed to hear that. She was kind of pie-in-the-sky, but that's okay; we need optimism and the current system clearly isn't working.
I'd be voting for it if I could, wasn't going out of town for my sister's wedding.
I worry that this will not pass. If it doesn't, it stems from the BTU's uniquely bad communication. Today, for example, we get an e-mail at 1:00 p.m. about an informational meeting at the BTU headquarters about the contract. The meeting was at 5:00 p.m. They give us four hours notice. What a travesty, truly.
The BTU website is unattractive and, while it has the jargon-y and difficult-to-understand contract documents, it is not very helpful. They're letting the entire education conversation in Baltimore City to be dominated by Inside Ed, which has its own share of problems (slow, dominated by complainers, lack of presence from all sides of issues). If it fails, it's on BTU, which will be a bummer.
Today, we had inflammatory and inaccurate fliers in our mailboxes saying the new contract will give the principals all the power. That's the sort of thing BTU is meagerly fighting, not very well.
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