New Haven Teachers Ratify Contract Focused on Professionalism

New Haven teachers are leading the way to better schools and brighter futures for kids with a contract that emphasizes teacher professionalism and values the hard work of classroom teachers.
To read a summary of the contract, click here.
Nov. 8, 2013
New Haven city and school district leaders gathered with teachers today to announce the ratification of a bold teachers’ contract that builds on the successes of New Haven School Change and places teachers at the forefront of an educational movement that is transforming schools and launching kids to successful futures.
The New Haven Board of Education and the New Haven Federation of Teachers collaborated to design another ground-breaking contract that emphasizes teacher professionalism in service of New Haven students. The new contract deepens and extends reform efforts firmly underway in New Haven schools. An overwhelming majority of teachers ratified the contract Thursday evening by a vote of 779 to 75.
National recognition of New Haven’s unique collaboration between teachers and the school district around school reform has brought in millions of dollars in grant money to the district, which is being used to help offset the cost of the contract. Under the new 2014-2017 contract, teachers who earn a rating of effective or better will move up on the Step scale and receive a wage increase. Lower-performing teachers will have the chance to undergo intensive, targeted professional development to improve their classroom teaching and earn a raise. The contract also expands the teacher day and makes an additional 30 minutes available every day for teacher collaboration – something New Haven turnaround schools have established as a key lever for improvement.
The contract also creates opportunities for outstanding teachers to earn more compensation by working in hard-to-serve schools and expanding their role outside of the classroom. Teachers will explain how the new contract allows them to grow and advance in their field, while staying in the classroom and doing what they love – educating kids.
This is the second time in four years that New Haven teachers made history by ratifying a bold contract designed to dramatically improve the education happening in our schools. The first time was in 2009, when teachers ratified a landmark contract that created an innovative teacher evaluation and development system that has been held up as a national model and a turnaround approach that lets schools embrace improvement plans that address their unique needs.
“Four years ago, New Haven School Change was launched with a landmark teacher contract that made New Haven among the first cities in the nation to work with, and not against, teachers on school reform. Today, I am proud to announce a new contract--the first since the landmark contract four years ago--that builds on the progress that has already been made. This contract has a strong focus on professional development and will ensure that our kids have superior teachers, amazing learning experiences and a top-notch education,” said Mayor DeStefano.
“Students are at the center of everything we do as a school district and students are at the center of this contract. New Haven teachers have stepped up to the plate to affirm the hard work of School Change and to vow to continue that work in the classroom. This contract embraces teacher professionalism and aims to grow and develop outstanding teachers in a way that helps all kids rise to bright, successful futures,” said Superintendent Harries.
“Teachers in New Haven have risen to the challenge of giving every student in this city access to the best education possible. This contract was driven by deep collaboration and a collective desire to help teachers grow and develop into the best teachers they can be. The support for this contract underscores our teachers’ and our city’s deep commitment to New Haven Public School students,” said David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers.
The new 2014-2017 contract expands teacher professionalism in the following three ways:
-          The Contract rewards teachers rated Effective, Strong or Exemplary with “Step” increases in compensation, which will be covered by federal funds provided by the Professional Educators Program (PEP) grant. For lower-performing teachers, “Step” movement is dependent on them undergoing intensive, targeted professional development to improve their instructional practice in the classroom.
-          The health care plan and cost-sharing is aligned with other City-Labor agreements. Estimated savings range from a total savings of $5.7M on the conservative end to $7.7M if more movement to the cost-effective plan occurs over the years of the contract.
-          To create an additional half hour of planned time for teacher collaboration, professional development and/or additional time with students (i.e. lunch or recess duties), teachers’ workdays will increase by 15 minutes to 6.75 hours.  Labor and management teams at the school level will design the workday for the 2014-15 school year.
-          The Talent Council (a committee comprised of teachers and administrators) will collaborate to identify meaningful career options that honor classroom teaching excellence, invest in teacher leaders, and reward teachers who choose to work in low-performing schools. The Professional Educators Program (PEP) will identify opportunities for outstanding teachers to become leaders and expand their “sphere of influence” outside the classroom, earning additional compensation to expand their connections to other teachers and, therefore, more students. The goal is for our most effective teachers to work with their colleagues to deepen student learning.
The contract will be presented to the New Haven Board of Education at Tuesday’s public board meeting. It then goes before the New Haven Board of Aldermen.