Joint Governing Panel for teachers union contract announced
Baltimore city school and Baltimore Teachers Union officials announced this week members of a Joint Governing Panel that will hammer out the most critical details of the district's teachers union contract. The panel was established in the contract, ratified last fall, and will be responsible for rolling out several elements of the contract, including the criteria for "achievement units" that city teachers will be able to use to move up a new career ladder.
The members of the panel (named in this story) represent four educators interviewed and appointed by BTU, and four by the district. They will serve three-year-terms at $94,000 a year. The salaries are funded by Race to the Top funds. They began meeting this month.
Their first courses of action include working on the rubric that will be used for teachers to move into the top tiers--known as "model" and "lead" pathways--of a new career ladder. They are also currently working on a peer review process for teachers who didn’t meet the criteria for initial placement on the model pathway. Those tasks must be done by June 30.
The union informed me that they have been holding focus groups to weigh in as the panel begins its work. A write-up on the focus groups, done by the American Federation of Teachers, is provided below.
Baltimore Contract Rollout Keeps Classroom Voices Centra
Baltimore City Public Schools and the Baltimore Teachers Union continue to hammer out details of their groundbreaking new contract, and the union is working hard to keep the voice of frontline educators engaged in that process.
The AFT affiliate is holding a series of focus groups for teachers from all grade levels and job classifications, soliciting their feedback on achievement units (AUs).
One of the most innovative components of the new three-year agreement, AU credits are an effort to move away from conventional compensation, which is based on years spent in the system. Teachers who earn these new units can move off a fixed timetable and boost their compensation and leadership roles by performing a wide range of in-school and out-of-school duties that contribute to student growth and school climate.
The focus groups asked teachers to define what activities should be tied to AUs, how the system should measure teacher success in earning the credits, and how professional development should be tailored to the new approach. The questions prompted lively discussion from elementary school teachers who participated in a March 2 focus group.
The educators, who came from more than a half-dozen schools in the district, emphasized the need for more clarity and transparency in awarding the units; recognition of hard-to-measure activities, such as leadership in after-school programs; and the type of professional development that specifically targets the needs of educators at all stages of their careers—training that one focus group participant said "goes beyond someone reading a PowerPoint to me."
Comments will be gathered from a wide spectrum of educators participating in the focus groups: clinicians, special educators, resource teachers, librarians and career technologists, as well as home-and-hospital teachers. Their remarks will be analyzed and used to help guide and inform the joint governing panel, which is charged under the new contract with developing a menu of AU credits for educators in all content areas and grade levels.
The "voices of the teachers are an excellent resource to define the AUs," said Violet Cousin of the BTU Teacher Center, who coordinated the sessions. "Educators feel validated about their practices when credence is given to their ideas."