A Strong Step Forward for Our Kids, Teachers, Parents, Schools ... and City

A Strong Step Forward for Our Kids, Teachers, Parents, Schools ... and City

I’m very enthusiastic about the preliminary contract agreement announced today between the de Blasio Administration and the United Federation of Teachers. I believe it provides a framework to improve our schools, support teachers, encourage innovation, and better include parents.

As a public school parent, I have a deep appreciation for what our teachers do. This contract shows respect for their craft, streamlines an overly cumbersome evaluation process, and treats them fairly – while at the same time achieving savings in health care and attending to the real fiscal constraints our city faces.There’s no substitute for parent/teacher contact, and I’m thrilled this contract increases it substantially (and I’m more than happy to make time on my calendar for double the number of parent/teacher conferences). Allowing innovation in 200 public schools, providing incentives for teachers to stay in hard-to-staff schools, addressing the ATR pool to allow the removal of poor-performing teachers, and paying for master teachers who mentor their newer colleagues will all make a very real difference in helping all of our kids learn.

In the policy book I organized with CUNY Graduate Center Professor John Mollenkopf, Toward a 21st Century City for All, scholar Tom Kochan had a far-sighted piece, Elements of a Labor Policy for the Next Mayor.  In it, he called, for a shift: Away from polarized, status-quo, bargaining-as-usual approaches, that make public sector workers into scapegoats, and provide them too little stake in confronting the problems our City faces. Toward a progressive approach in which the administration and public sector workers collaborate on sustained innovations that achieve real more responsive, cost-effective improvements in public services.

With today’s preliminary contract agreement, Mayor de Blasio, President Mulgrew, the UFT, and New York City’s public sector unions are taking a strong first step in that direction.

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