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After Teacher Vote, Mayo Seeks “Grand Slam”

by Melissa Bailey | Oct 14, 2009 3:45 pm

(33) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

In the wake of an overwhelming teachers union vote in favor of school reform, city officials called on Yale, the feds and the state to follow suit.

Officials lauded the vote as a first-in-the-nation agreement between a city and a teachers union to work together to change the way public schools work.

New Haven’s teachers ratified a new, four-year labor contract Tuesday night by an vote of 842 to 39.

The contract includes an average annual pay hike of 3 percent, a half-percent increase in medical contributions—and opens the door to sweeping school reform plans.

Officials lauded the vote as a first-in-the-nation agreement between a city and a teachers union to work together to change the way public schools work. They said it would help New Haven snag federal dollars to support reform initiatives.

The agreement covers 1,700 public school teachers in the American Federation of Teachers Local 933. It now passes to the Board of Aldermen for final approval.

Teachers praised the opportunity to retain their benefits, and even get a pay hike, in a tough economy.

IMG_6423.jpgWednesday morning, the teacher’s union and top city officials joined in a press conference at City Hall touting the contract as a milestone in New Haven’s journey toward closing the achievement gap in five years, cutting the dropout rate in half, and ensuring each student goes to college.

Schools superintendent Reggie Mayo and Mayor John DeStefano seized the moment to issue a call to other community partners to join the school change team.

Mayo applauded teachers for supporting New Haven’s efforts by ratifying the contract.

Public school teachers “didn’t just hit a single. They hit a home run for the children of this city,” Mayo said. He called on others to follow suit. (Click on the play arrow to watch excerpts.)

“We’re expecting others to step up to the plate,” Mayo said. “If you can’t hit a home run, hit a triple. We’re not interested in singles and doubles here. We’re interested in triples and better and grand slams.”

He said he’s counting on help from: Yale and other universities, the state, federal government, and the philanthropic community.

“There’s certainly a lot of dollars out there that we’re going to need in order to make this a reality,” Mayo said. “We will be calling on you and hoping that you will stand up to the plate.”

The teachers contract commits the city to pay for wage increases and medical benefits. DeStefano said other components of the school reform drive—such as the Promise college scholarship program, teacher support, longer school days and teacher bonuses—will require financing.

The contract allows the district to issue bonus payments for teachers based on student performance, as well as leadership. The bonuses won’t be given to individuals, but rather to groups and the entire staff of a particular school.

The Community Foundation For Greater New Haven has committed to help fund the reforms and to act as a conduit for other philanthropic money.

State education commissioner Mark McQuillan has promised to include New Haven’s reform plans in its application to the $4.35 billion federal Race to the Top Fund, according to spokesman Tom Murphy. McQuillan is also offering to help New Haven by pursuing legislation that would ensure there’s no cap on the number of charter schools in the state and that the state does not prohibit tying teacher evaluations to school performance. Those two stipulations are requirements for getting Race to the Top funds, as well as for New Haven’s reforms, Murphy said.

A Commitment To Reform

Teachers ratified the contract Tuesday night in a vote at Career High School.

IMG_6357.jpgThe union executive board (including Cynthia Plude and Michael Mazzacane, left to right in photo) staffed the polling station.

The agreement covers 1,700 public school teachers in the American Federation of Teachers Local 933. It now passes to the Board of Aldermen for final approval.

Teachers praised the opportunity to retain their benefits, and even get a pay hike, in a tough economy.

The contract, which would take effect in July, includes an average 3 percent annual pay hike and a half-percent increase in medical costs per year, and opens the door to a number of major reforms. It would allow the district to close failing schools and reopen them as charters; tie teacher evaluations to student performance; and give schools more autonomy in how they operate. Click here for more details.

The changes pave the way for Mayor John DeStefano’s ambitious school reform drive. The initiative has four planks: grading schools; differentiated management of schools, including closing failing schools and reopening them as charters; attracting and recruiting talented staff; and a “Promise” college scholarship program.

DeStefano closed out a mayoral candidate debate Tuesday night by focusing on the significance of the contract ratification.

“You don’t get that overwhelming number of votes without a strong teacher commitment to reform,” he said.

Union president Dave Cicarella had a slightly different interpretation.

“The reform was coming with or without us,” he said. He said the agreement in the contract enables teachers to have input in the changes.

IMG_6361.jpgThe contract sets up committees to oversee reforms: A committee of administrators and teachers will work this year to come up with a metric for evaluating teachers and school staff. Teachers will be evaluated based on student performance, but not only on test scores. Another committee will add teachers’ voices to the process of evaluating low-performing teachers. The committee will draw new guidelines that give struggling teachers more support.

The mayor has said he worked hard to reach a peaceful accord because it would establish New Haven as a prime candidate for a new batch of federal grants. Tuesday, he said New Haven and its union are the first in the country to do as President Obama is directing: To work together rather than fight each other over school reform.

The contract “signals the real possibility of getting this job done,” DeStefano said.

The union knew what was at stake, too.

“The city wanted the reform, because with reform comes federal money,” said Mary McNerney, an adult ed teacher who sits on the union executive board.

“Reform gave us leverage” at the negotiating table, she said.

“They need us to buy into this,” added Kathy Lembo, another teacher on the union’s e-board.

As a result, teachers got an average 2.87 percent pay hike in the first year.

DeStefano said if the contract had gone to binding arbitration, that pay hike would have been a zero. If the contract had gone to binding arbitration, he added, the city also wouldn’t have gotten school reform.

“They’re getting fairly compensated for taking the risk of not doing the same thing over and over again,” he said.

He said the contract will give New Haven “the flexibility to turn around schools in an unprecedented fashion.”

An Incentive Seen

Teachers weighed in on the package at an auditorium at Career High School, where they stuck purple slips of paper into makeshift ballot boxes.

Several teachers said they thought the contract would be far worse if they voted no, which would kick off the binding arbitration process.

“It’s as good as we could get” in a tough economy, said Evelyn Gallagher, who teaches at Nathan Hale.

“I just feel we’re really blessed to be getting a raise,” said Sue Brown, a teacher at Mauro-Sheridan.

Kevin Inge said he wasn’t wowed about his pay raise, but he was won over by an opportunity to make more money—and help a struggling school transform—as part of the new reforms.

IMG_6363.jpg“What really grabbed me was the Tier 3 schools,” said Inge (pictured).

Inge, a sixth-grade teacher at King/Robinson, was referring to a part of the contract that allows for schools to be graded and placed into three tiers. The top-performing schools, Tier 1, would be given more autonomy. A small number of the Tier 3 schools, the lowest-performing, would be closed and reopened, possibly as charter schools, under new rules. In those “turnaround” schools, teachers could work extended schooldays or school years, and would be paid extra accordingly.

“Working in a struggling school to get it up to par is something I’d be interested in—along with the pay,” he said.

Enough Notice?

The overwhelming vote came after some disagreement over how much time teachers were given to look at the new contract. Even as aldermen and school board members paged through the agreement last week, teachers were not officially briefed, nor were they allowed to see the contract, prior to Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Leslie Blatteau, who teaches at CT Scholars, said she came into the meeting feeling frustrated by the lack of information. She said teachers should be modeling what they want their students to do—make informed decisions based on their own critical thinking skills.

Union executive board members said they did not want to open a can of worms by letting the details out before Tuesday.

Both the New Haven Register and New Haven Independent published details of the contract on Monday.

“Protocol calls for everyone to hear the same thing at the same time,” said union vice-president Tom Burns, the local’s lead negotiator. He said on a negotiated contract, union members must trust their leadership to do the right thing. That trust was proven by the 842 yes votes, he said.

There wasn’t enough time to postpone the vote, because of an Oct. 17 deadline for binding arbitration, he added.

Cicarella presented details of the deal to members in a meeting that began at 4 p.m. Tuesday. During the meeting, one woman requested that the vote be postponed for 24 hours so teachers could get the chance to read the material. The motion failed due to lack of a quorum.

Blatteau supported the idea: “Would that have hurt the contract that much?” she asked. The third-year teacher said her frustrations were later allayed when she learned the union’s history: This is only the second time in 30 years that teachers have been allowed to vote on their contract. On past contracts, the deal was sealed through binding arbitration, or the president opted for a stipulated agreement without a rank-and-file vote.

Cicarella, who took office in 2006, said he understands the concerns about not having enough time to read the contract, but this is a much more open process than in years past.

City and union leaders are planning a 10 a.m. press conference Wednesday to celebrate the accord and discuss its significance.

Paul Bass contributed reporting.


Some previous stories about New Haven’s school reform drive:

Will Teacher Contract Bring D.C. Reward?
What About The Parents?
Teachers, City Reach Tentative Pact
Philanthropists Join School Reform Drive
Wanted: Great Teachers
“Class of 2026” Gets Started
Principal Keeps School On The Move
With National Push, Reform Talks Advance
Nice New School! Now Do Your Homework
Mayo Unveils Discipline Plan
Mayor Launches “School Change” Campaign
Reform Drive Snags “New Teacher” Team
Can He Work School Reform Magic?
Some Parental Non-Involvement Is OK, Too
Mayor: Close Failing Schools
Union Chief: Don’t Blame The Teachers
3-Tiered School Reform Comes Into Focus
At NAACP, Mayo Outlines School Reform
Post Created To Bring In School Reform
Board of Ed Assembles Legal Team

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 14, 2009  4:43pm

I bet within two years,King john will be asking for give backs!!!!

posted by: concrenedwestvilleres on October 14, 2009  4:52pm

I am glad that there is a contract that deals with reforming the schools.  With 3 kids in NHPS, I want my kids to have the best education possible. However, I have several concerns regarding this contract and the “reform” plans that have taken Mayor DeStefano almost 18 years to try to implement:
1.  The contract calls for a 3% increase across the board for the teachrs.  This would total close to $2 million per year which will be paid on the backs of the New Haven taxpayers.  When rich organizations such as Yale and other private institutions are freezing salaries or limiting raises to 2%, New Haven gives the teachers a 3% increase and it isn’t tied to performance.  Look for a tax increase ahead.
2.  The State will try to secure funding for this reform through the federal government.  I wouldn’t rely on the state to return the proper funds to New Haven.  The legislature would likely use the funds to plug budget gaps and/or reduce other funding to New Haven which will result in a budget hole and the tabling of the reform until the Mayor’s next election.
3.  Do you realize some of the salaries administrators make in this school system?  Principals make around $100K or more per year. Teachers with Masters Degrees make around $70K and low-end teachers make about $40-$45K.  To top it off quite a few New Haven teachers don’t even live in New Haven.  It would seem more appropriate to bring the salaries in line and limit raises to lower-end teachers instead of all teachers or those teachers who make the most improvement.
4.  Another problem is the propensity to teach to the measurable tests instead of just teaching what the kids really need to know.  My childrens’ homework seems to be setup in the same manner as the standardized tests.  Results are more than standardized test results.  Parents should have input in teacher evaluations as should students.  More subjective tests should be used to determine whether a student is ready to move on, etc.
5.  If you want to reduce the achievement gap, then why is New Haven using interdistrict magnet schools where half of the spots go to students from out of the district?  I know New Haven receives funds for these students, but at the same time valuable spots are not available for families in New Haven.  Some will choose to move to the burbs if necessary.  There should be a way to open more spots to New Haven residents.
6.  Why not expand the basic magnet curriculum to all schools?  Also, why not find ways to help parents be more involved in their childrens’ education? 
I honestly think this reform will fall flat until DeStefano’s re-election in 2 years where we will hear it again and then it will fall flat after the election.  18 years of DeStefano and we have nice schools on the outside, but students inside are failing and being left behind.  Here’s to hoping it will work this time.

posted by: Meridenite on October 14, 2009  8:41pm

Why do I think that not only the taxpayers in New Haven but also Ct and the rest of the country got ripped on this.

posted by: JB on October 15, 2009  11:36am

If you want to reduce the achievement gap, then why is New Haven using interdistrict magnet schools where half of the spots go to students from out of the district?

I thought the percentage was 30%- anyone know Still, it’s much too high.  Many kids from families who are invested in education either move or seek out private schools.  And I don’t just mean wealthy families.  Catholic school tuition remains quite low.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 15, 2009  1:02pm

MAGNETS

The magnet program has been utilized by NHPS primarily as a funding vehicle for school construction.  The state, because of Sheff, has built in a variety of incentives to urban districts to desegregate.  Magnets are a primary strategy to accomplish that end.  Seeing the financial benefits to New Haven, Mayor DeStefano took full advantage of the budget incentives baked into law to rebuild New Haven’s crumbling schools largely on state taxpayer money.

BUT, make no mistake,“Magnets” as a class of schools produce no better than marginal improvement in closing the achievement gap than do neighborhood schools;  Its not the mix of the student body population that closes the gap, it is quality and content of the educational program.

The entire Sheff lawsuit was flawed thinking if people were really interested in closing the achievement gap.  Does it lower racial isolation? Yes.  Does it raise academic outcomes for low income minority students? No. 

ARE NEW HAVEN AND STATE TAXPAYERS GETTING RIPPED OFF WITH THE REFORM PLAN?

New Haven taxpayers (home owners) will be happy in a couple of years, even if they have to dig into their pockets a bit more in the near term.  Why?  Because if the mayor’s plan is successful, crime and poverty will go down, the grand list will go up, and property values will go up, up, up.  The investment made in the mayor’s brand of education will come back to New Haveners in many ways.

Your heard it here first:  Buy in New Haven now!

Upper and middle income suburban folks who indirectly support urban school districts through the state income tax will also be big winners because their contribution will finally yield results which will translate into great fiscal and social benefits for all.

posted by: Norton Street on October 15, 2009  2:17pm

The problem I see with closing the achievement gap through schools only is that children spend most of their lives outside of school. What magnet schools try to accomplish (diversifying the schools) is good but how its accomplished isn’t (through an elaborate private busing system). Starting with the schools is incorrect. Educational reform must begin with the neighborhoods. Making the neighborhoods diverse will automatically make the neighborhood schools diverse, thus getting rid of the need for magnet schools. The private yellow busing system needs to be gotten rid of. That doesn’t mean that parents can choose where to send their kids, just that if they do go to school out of district they should use the existing infrastructure of city buses to do so, just as previous generations of New Haveners used trolleys to get downtown to Hillhouse and Cross.
FixTheSchool’s statement that,
“Its not the mix of the student body population that closes the gap, it is quality and content of the educational program”
is somewhat misleading I think. Yes the quality of the education is what allows kids to achieve but part of an education comes from sources other than teachers in a class room, and the population of the student body influences the quality of the overall education quite a bit. In specific schools the goal should not be diversity (which is a problem of magnets), but rather the waulity of education, but before that can be addressed, I believe the neighborhood segregation needs to be fixed. This is more important than the school system, because once the neighborhoods are fixed, the neighborhood schools will fix themselves. Trying to fix schools first will always be a losing battle because the kids are still going home every evening and receiving a counterproductive education.

posted by: Norton Street on October 15, 2009  3:13pm

**That doesn’t mean that parents CAN’T choose where to send their kids…**

posted by: RichTherrn on October 15, 2009  3:28pm

New Haven magnet schools are a great example of choice and options for students and parents in curriculum and programs, not just a way to get money.
The importance of this step and the opportunities it brings cannot be overstated. I believe that all parties, including curriculum supervisors, are embracing the reform and the implications of the teacher contract. When dedicated educators work together and involve the community and parents to affect change… amazing things will happen.
Richard Therrien
NHPS Science Supervisor

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 15, 2009  4:40pm

NORTON STREET,  I’m afraid to ask, but just how would you go about “making neighborhoods diverse”?

Also, hopefully we will see the school day expand well beyond the 6 1/2 hour day to 10 to 12.  Schools are underutilized phyisical assets that can be places not only for more time on core courses, but structured environments for music, sports, community engagement, and other activities.

posted by: teachers on October 15, 2009  5:31pm

I have a question about making these “turnaround schools” into charters.  Doesn’t making them charters jetison them from the purview of NHPS?  Aren’t charter schools non-district entities?

If so, in essence, wouldn’t the district simply be culling “bad schools” and low-scoring students from its rolls?

It seems like chartering the turnaround schools is akin to the creative accounting that Anderson Consulting got in trouble for in the 90s.

posted by: JOSIAHBROWNFORMAYOR on October 15, 2009  6:22pm

TEACHERS,

I think you are right in your assumption that “turnaround” schools may become charters or turned over to any third party superintendent designee (i.e. private corporation). We saw how well this worked with both Edison schools in Hartford and the recent under-reported statewide debacle (at least in Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven) where districts paid out large sums of cash to a fly-by-night operation to run alternative education programs.

One of the biggest problems is that there is no standard set (that has been made public at this time) as to what qualifies as a “Tier 3” or a “turnaround” school. If the Board were to see fit, over the course of time (say if DeStefano were to serve another eight terms) they could potentially “turn around” every school in the district.

TOM BURNS,

I hope I am wrong about your most recent accomplishment. And regardless of the outcome, I think that if you were, as reported, the chief negotiator on this “ground-breaking deal” that you should be justly rewarded with a term as president of your union.

posted by: The Bottom Line on October 15, 2009  6:42pm

Who cares if schools are Magnet, Charters, Neighborhoods whatever. Folks just want GREAT SCHOOLS for our children.  As a group nationally, all of these different types of schools have challenges and none of them as a group show any real progress anyway. There are a few exceptions.

The bottom line is that exceptional student achievement in complex urban and rural communities are accomplished by great school leaders, great teachers and evidenced based high expectations for ALL students.  That’s what the reform should be all about!

Everything else is just crappy noise and the overbearing need to prove that you are the smartest person in the room.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 15, 2009  7:23pm

Can someone answer this question for me.

What happens if the bad schools become charter schools and the charter schools becomes a bad school where do the student go back to?

posted by: Norton Street on October 15, 2009  7:45pm

Fix the schools,
I don’t know.
Whatever the answer is, it will be an extremely difficult and long process, but a necessary one.
The suburbanization of America over the last 50 or so years has been well documented and experienced by several generations of residents. The causes for mass urban exodus in America has been thoroughly studied and researched by countless historians (among other groups) and only recently (in the last 20 years at most) has the result of this mass urban exodus been realized and reflected upon. It has been a slow process for Americans to look in retrospect with how we’ve consumed resources, spent money and grown and how these things have effected our physical environment, our cultural identities and the health (mental and physical) of our citizens. The process of re-inhabiting places that follow traditional living arrangements may just be a matter of waiting for more and more people to become aware of these issues, or it may take an oil crisis, or it may take a charismatic leader, or a massive ad campaign, or enough chronic unemployment, or it might happen when we realize that our wealth is only visible on a computer screen and our currency isn’t backed up by anything of worth. At the height of industrialism in America, we manufactured goods and products that people all over the world wanted and that American citizens depended on, and these were things of worth. Today, all we have are tons of plastic crap, cheap buildings on worthless land and distant corporations that do not invest in communities. Suburbia has only been around for about 50 years, and if the quality of construction of suburban housing is any indication of how long it will last, I doubt it will still be here in another 50 years.
This city’s neighborhoods don’t really need to be changed that drastically in order to hold a diverse population. Newhallville for instance is full of versatile housing that can rearranged on the interior to house one wealthy family, a couple middle class families or several low income families. Housing is subdivided all the time in New Haven, it is just as easy to gut a house and redesign it as single family, as it is to add walls and doors to make it a multi-family house. Many of the houses in East Rock were originally single family but during the industrial boom were bought by developers and subdivided for worker housing.

posted by: RichTherrn on October 15, 2009  10:03pm

Teachers/JBFM:
There was a change in state law to allow for district charters (most are now state charters), and the posted teacher agreement implies schools remain NHPS schools, even if they are run as charters.
Part of the agreement is that the teachers will be at the table in helping decide how all this works over the next few months, and that is the key piece.

I continue to be proud of the teachers in this system, their professionalism, and especially their union leadership, including Dave C and Tom B to embrace this type of student centered education reform.

posted by: ELLSWORTH STREET on October 16, 2009  12:39am

Dear Norton, I feel your pain but I thing you’ve got it backwards. Starting with the schools is correct. Making the schools diverse will automatically make the neighborhood diverse, thus the need for magnet schools.
We do not want the suburbanites moving back to New Haven. We want there kids, who are starting a family, to move back. If they feel the family they raise will have access to good schools, they will come back. We can then sell our over sized houses to families that need over sized houses and move to Clinton.

posted by: Tom Burns on October 16, 2009  1:45am

Hey Fix,
Are you kidding me—-you are right on as to where New Haven is heading—-thanks for the support—

Three-Fifths—-I read everything you present and agree with you whole-heartedly—-This reform movement in New Haven is the beginning of the end of corporate schools, charters and vouchers—-We have the best teachers imaginable and now that we have a say in how to get it done, we will get it done. Keep doing what you are doing friend.

Josiah Brown—first time you brought up my name—-I’m not sure if the statement about me being President was sarcastic or sincere—hopefully sincere and if so, we have the best President possible already. I have the utmost confidence in him as do the 842 teachers who ratified the contract. I as well as my 1700 other colleagues will do whatever it takes to make our city the best place to get an education in America. I am so proud of my fellow teachers that have accepted the challenge that so many others will be watching and attempting to emulate. Tom

posted by: Teachers on October 16, 2009  9:11am

Rich, thanks for the clarification.  What is the difference between a city charter school and a magnet school.

posted by: JOSIAHBROWNFORMAYOR on October 16, 2009  9:16am

TOM BURNS,

Just to clear things up my comment about you being president was sincere. Also of most importance I am not in fact Josiah Brown nor do I have his consent to use his likeness therefore I should seriously consider changing my screen-name; that said I think the real Josiah Brown would make an excellent mayor for the City of New Haven.

So am I to understand, if nominated you will not accept and if elected you would not serve?

posted by: Norton Street on October 16, 2009  11:23am

Ellsworth Ave (Street?),
That is very interesting.
I actually attended a New Haven magnet school K-8 and the idea of it and the actual school worked well. How this was accomplished was terrible because it required an elaborate private busing system. If magnet school’s transportation could be reworked to use the existing public busing system then I would reconsider my stance against magnet schools. However, I doubt parents would want their children on public buses especially at young ages, which is why I suggest that the best solution is to first get the middle class back into the city. If the city bus ridership demographic is diversified I think parents would be much more comfortable with their child on the bus.
A friend of mine from elementary school was part of a suburban-urban exchange program and he attended the school until 4th or 5th grade when he changed to attending a suburban school; I haven’t seen him since, so while in theory you may be correct, I don’t think in practice it would actually work.
I also don’t believe schools can just be made better. It doesn’t work that way. More effective lessons can be taught, more effective teachers brought in, redesigned schools, healthier lunches, better administrators, etc. but still not much will change. Often what the students learn at home (in the community, from friends, etc.) and bring with them to school is what determines how they will do. One could take all the students from Hooker and place them in Lincoln Basset, or Roberto Clemente (these were “failing” schools when I was younger, I don’t know their status currently) and take the students from those schools and put them in Hooker for a year and the scores and grades would follow the students, not the schools. There may be some minor improvement or decline but overwhelmingly the grades will follow the kids.
I realize that New Haven cannot possibly absorb the entire middle class population of the county because the population has far exceeded the number it was a century ago. That is why a regional approach to town organizing is appropriate. Certain sections of Hamden, Milford, Branford, etc should be abandoned due to their organizational hopelessness, while certain sections of these towns (lower Hamden, for example) can be reorganized and densified to hold a larger and more stable population. Then places like New Haven and Derby can be reinhabited in a way that is familiar and sane.

posted by: Tom Burns on October 17, 2009  1:39am

I thank you for your kind words JosiahBrown for mayor. The NHFT has a great team now, as is—and I am so proud to be a part of it—-With people like Pat Delucia (the other lead negotiator),Dave Low, Nancy Blackwell-Todd, Don Brechlin, Steve Mikolike, Ray Pompano, Pete Chase, Denise Frisketti and all our Stewards and Executive Board Members as well as the finest 1700 teachers to be found, New Haven is blessed. If nominated I would not accept because our team is perfect the way it is———But thanks for the compliment—-I hope our actions benefit our children and school community as I think they will—-Tom

posted by: charterswork on October 17, 2009  2:39pm

Charter schools often work; just look right here in New Haven at the astounding results of Achievement First.  They do not always work; one need look no further than the old Highville/Mustard Seed.  But Achievement First does work and their schools are outstanding in ways that can be easily quantified through standardized test scores (they score on par with the state and double digit percentage points ahead of the city of New Haven with the same students!), attendence rates, and overall parent satisfaction.  Yet, the NHPS, until VERY recently, have been loathe to engage with Achievement First to learn how they do it and the NHFT doesn’t want to accept the reality of Achievement’s First record, either.  NHFT seems much more comfortable spreading misinformation.  Truth be told, there are far too many adults in the NHPS system as a whole who do NOT do their jobs.  This includes teachers and administrators.  There are far too many people in the city pulling down six figures. As the old joke goes, when was the last time you heard of a principal being fired?  But, dear residents and taxpayers of New Haven, many NHPS teachers work very hard and are not, as someone said, paid 70k with a master’s.  Most of New Haven’s new to mid-career teachers are paid far less than their counterparts in the rest of the state; Bridgeport and Hartford included. 
Moreover, though, having read several articles now about the new contract and the reform plans, I am scared by cyncism so many stakeholders (particularly teachers) still feel.  The truth is that the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of our time and far too many people want to squabble over small details instead of focusing on students.  Good luck, NHPS.  The kids of this city need this to work.

posted by: JOSIAHBROWNFORMAYOR on October 18, 2009  8:44am

RichTherrn et al,

Do we have any idea what a district charter might look like? And (from a purely Labor perspective) will district charters be mandated to hire only “highly qualified” instructors? Or is part of the point of a charter schools to have more freedom in hiring (i.e. individuals who are not protected under a CBA and/or not necessarily certified teachers)?

I noticed nobody wanted to touch our state’s urban districts’ missteps in subbing out their alternative education programs to a contractor who had clearly not been properly vetted. I am not trying to point fingers but what if anything did we learn form our experience? A large amount of taxpayer money was wasted on this failed experiment in quasi-public education. I am unsure as to the specific reasons Bridgeport and New Haven stopped doing business with this for-lack-of-a-better-term “vendor”; however, I am quite sure that the Hartford chapter of the AFT was largely responsible for this entity’s dismissal in their district and that their reasoning/argument centered largely around the entity’s hiring and use of uncertified instructional staff in “public schools”.

posted by: RichTherrn on October 19, 2009  6:33am

All public schools, district, charter, etc.. are supposed to follow state certification law, that has nothing to do with the union.
The “highly qualified” rule is NCLB federal law.
This impression that charters have different rules on who they can hire is false, they are SUPPOSED to follow the law. Recently New Haven and others supported a change in certification law, which passed and will take effect in 2010, so that there are some waivers on course requirements if applicants had high enough test scores.
Details on the teacher contract posted in the NH Register and in the previous NHI article talk about teacher and school choice in employment, and flexibility in work rules for certain schools, but can’t address the certification issue.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 19, 2009  11:01am

Mr. Therrien, 

If CT.‘s certification requirements has nothing to do with the union, then why has the union systematically harassed Amistad Academy with repeated legal action over the years seeking to know among other things, about the certification status of its teachers? 

Tom Burns,

Why does the union devote its resources to slowing down, harrassing, and de-funding schools that work?

You want to join hands and sing Kumbayah on reforming NHPS?  Ok.  Are you are willing to stop paying your union lobbyists to threaten legislators with union retaliation if they vote to support equal charter school funding in the state? 

Your members just got a 3% raises while everyone else is lucky if they just stay flat. This reform plan is going to attract loads of federal and private money flowing into your system and to your membership.  Is that not enough for you?

You want to stop the criticism?  You want to work on this arm in arm?  Alright then, how about calling off your dogs and signing a non-aggression pact with the charter community, one in which the union calls for the state to fund charters at the district per-student average?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 19, 2009  12:46pm

I surport the teachers who vote no to this corporatist control contract.You have sold your souls for 3%.Remember King John gives and King John takes back.For the teachers who live in new haven that 3% raise will go to pay the high taxes that will be hitting New Haven very soon,So you will not see one dime.Now I would like to see a law passed that charter schools can no longer put students out who fall behind in there work.I want see charter schools take in special need students.
Last I will asked this question again and can someone give me a answer and the question is If the public school as the contract says is failing it will be closed and reopen as a charter school.Now if the charter school is failing are you going to close it down and then where do the student go back to.

P.S.
My man Fix I didn’t forget you. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson a founding father was for public
schools.

http://www.heartland.org/publications/school reform/article/17931/Thomas_Jefferson_on_Education.html

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/Instruction/CTE/cc/VTFT/public_schools_for_all.ppt#256,1,Public Schools for All?

He must be turning over in his grave.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 19, 2009  1:08pm

3/5,  I don’t know if you read what you paste, but your Jefferson blurb points out that he probably would be a vocal proponent of vouchers today.  We’re all for public schooling.  Thats what this is all about. 

You need clear up some basic misconceptions that you still harbor.  I suggest that you attend the next BOE meeting and ask your question about what happens if charter schools perform so poorly that they need to re-constituted.  Then you might want to attend an Amistad Academy Visitor morning and find out about about their special ed students, and how the school seems to retain students at a higher percentage than do traditional district schools.

posted by: RichTherrn on October 19, 2009  8:11pm

Fix,
I don’t know anything about unions lobbying for/against charters, and have never been involved in that.
Just clearing up the misconception that public charters are different in terms of hiring, their teachers are just as certified as district schools, they both recruit from the same pool.
I’ve talked before on my opinion about the overally restrictive rules on certification, especially in my science subject area… but again, certification rules (as opposed to evaluation, seniority, trasnfer, salaries, work rules, etc…) aren’t spelled out in teacher union contracts, they are state law.
Richard Therrien
NHPS Science Supervisor

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 19, 2009  8:48pm

Fix
I don’t what you read but here is what he said in the end.Clearly, Jefferson favored student grants, parental control of their child’s education, and minimal government interference in the education process. Notice minimal!!!

Also check out Dr. James P Comer of yale.


http://aera.net/uploadedFiles/Publications/Journals/Educational_Researcher/3505/3790-04_Loder-BKRev.pdf

As far as the BOE which are nothing more the ventiloquist dummies who King John controls would be a waste of time.which is why we sould have a elect school board,Nit train seals.

posted by: Tom Burns on October 21, 2009  12:53am

Hey Fix,
Given a fair playing field——I’d be ready to walk arm in arm—-the problem is the charters, privates and voucher people won’t agree to a level playing field—-and never will cause they aren’t up to the task that we are———Wish they were and that their charade was real——I truly mean that—
And three-fifths—-no sellout at all to the corporatists for any amount of money—Just a PROFESSIONAL union with super teachers ready to end the big business take-over—-Stay tuned—-We need to proceed with care as you well know, but our teachers have more protections and more say than ever before due to this contract—-Now the onus is on us all to plan and deliver—-before this it was tell us what to do and then blame it on us——-This little light of mine—I’m gonna make it shine—-UR the best three-fifths—Tom

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 21, 2009  9:30am

3/5,

Minimalist governmental control over schools!  Isn’t this simply handing the schools over to the corporatists?

As for BOE dummies, I urge you to attend the next BOE meeting.  I think you would soon find out that the mayor’s most recent appointments don’t fall into the dummy category.  Nor do they lip sync for hizzoner. 

Mr. T., Yes you are right about the two different issues.  But the unions use the overly-restrictive state rules on certification as a club with which they harrass, slow down, and try to de-fund great charters.  It seems to me that people of good will and who know how the system works, shouldn’t put their heads in the sand. 


Tom, its good of you not to deny that your members dues pay lobbyists to politically threaten, bully, and otherwise wage backroom warfare on charter schools.  But why not just use the union dues to advance professional development, or something else directly related to your members? Why attack a few little schools which clearly work well for thousands of minority kids from low income backgrounds?

Charter schools, by the way, serve a higher percentage of poor and minority students than the does the district.  I’d like to think that if your members knew exactly where their money was going, that they would be overwhelmingly against using their contributions to tear down schools that are working for New Haven’s kids.

But having said all that, I’ll take you up on your sincere offer:  How would you redefine the current system of choice to “level the playing field” between charters and district schools? 

But Tom, lets be real.  Your concern is not really about the kids, is it?  Its really about the threat that charters pose to your union system.

posted by: Tom Burns on October 22, 2009  1:22am

Fix—-we have done what you wanted and yet you continue—-this is the beginning of the end for charters and vouchers, as we will show all how to get it done with a population of students that no charter or private has ever seen——Fix—I believe you will get your wish soon to see how your Achievement First schools really measure up—-I’m sure and willing to give them one of our challenging schools—same playing field—oops—they won’t accept—-but maybe they will—I doubt it, cause cowards and losers won’t enter the fray—they will just talk from the outside——But this is my challenge to you and your charade, I mean charter/voucher movement——-This contract allows any charter or outside entity to come in and take over a turnaround school, with their own staff and rules—-but with our student population(with its transiency and a variety of challenging students included) I guarantee none of them will take the challenge—-for cowards and corporatists they are—-a failure here will be a blow to their movement, so they will come up with some lame excuse why they can’t play ball with the real professionals—-Just watch—I know the type—I have beaten these weaklings on the playing field my whole life——Bring it on—Tom

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on October 22, 2009  1:14pm

You’ve said it all, Tom.

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