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Posted at 03:22 PM ET, 02/03/2009

WTU Delivers Contract Proposal

The Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker said he has delivered a contract proposal to DCPS. In a summary posted last night on the WTU website, Parker outlined the proposal in only general terms, saying that the proposal draws ideas from what he calls "successful, collaborative contracts" in New York, Miami and Chicago. It mentioned a raise in base pay but offered not specific numbers.

Parker said in a brief interview that no talks with DCPS are scheduled, and that school officials will be taking at least a few days to review the document.

Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the head of the DCPS negotiating team, is recovering from surgery, but Parker said he expected to have a phone conversation with her on Thursday.

One key proposal--not mentioned by Parker but confirmed by sources to be in the document--would take the District's lowest-performing public schools and operate them essentially as quasi-charters, where teachers and principals have the autonomy to devise their own educational programs and instructors are evaluated and retained through a system of peer mentoring and management. The schools would operate under five-year performance agreements in which teacher and student achievement are evaluated annually. The plan is similar to the "Fresh Start Schools" in Chicago, established jointly by the Chicago Teachers Union and then-schools CEO Arne Duncan, now Secretary of Education.

As expected, the union is proposing creation of school-wide financial incentive programs to reward teachers for raising student achievement. About 200 New York City schools employ building-wide merit pay, where cash awards are apportioned among entire staffs and not geared to individual teacher performance. DCPS already has a smaller-scale version of such a program.

Another New York program, union-operated, school-based "teacher centers," is in the proposal. The centers are staffed by senior instructors who mentor teachers and help them work collaboratively to take responsibility for their own professional development.

Bill Turque

By Marcia Davis  |  03:22 PM ET, 02/03/2009

Categories:  Education

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