Pittsburgh Leads Public Education with Innovative Approach to Contract Negotiations
The Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers have signed new five-year collective bargaining agreements around what matters most – advancing the teaching profession in a way that is aligned with the common mission of improving student achievement. The Board approved the historic agreements at a Special Legislative meeting held this evening.
Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
Earlier today the PFT announced ratification by its members of the contracts anchored around the goals set in the Empowering Effective Teachers plan. Co-authored by the District and PFT over a year ago, the plan changes the way the District hires, supports, compensates and evaluates teachers. This is the first time in the history of the District that it has reached a five-year collective bargaining agreement. The PFT’s three bargaining units consist of 3,500 teachers, paraprofessionals, and technical-clerical staff. Provisions under the new contracts begin July 1, 2010.
“This agreement discredits the belief that school districts and teacher unions can’t work together around education reform. Our teachers have strongly affirmed the direction the PFT leadership has taken. They have chosen to lead the transformation of public education across the country,” said Superintendent Mark Roosevelt.
With improving student achievement as its driving force, the new teacher contract articulates specific language around maximizing teacher effectiveness to impact student growth. The agreements go deeper than the typical demands associated with collective bargaining, such as wages, hourly schedules and retirement benefits. Embedded in the contract are items not typically found in a collective bargaining agreement such as, opportunities for collaboration and teacher engagement. Items in the contract related to engagement include:
- District and PFT representatives, including practicing teachers, will engage in preparation and planning during the 2010-11 school year for the launch of a school-wide bonus plan called STAR Schools at the start of the 2011-12 school year.
- During the 2010-11 school year, a team of 12 teachers and two administrators will work together after school hours to study individual performance pay programs.
- The components, methods and standards for assessing components of effective teaching practice will be developed by the District and PFT during the 2010-11 school year.
“This agreement is historic because of the collaborative approach that the District and PFT have taken. Different than in the past, this negotiations process was based on our common belief that we can do more for our kids when we work as partners rather than adversaries,” said School Board President Theresa Colaizzi.
By using the Empowering Effective Teacher plan as the framework for the past year of negotiations, the District and the PFT have penned a bargaining agreement that continues the spirit of collaboration developed during the design of the plan. Foregoing the use of lawyers for negotiations, this past April teachers and practitioners met at a Cooperative Convening and arrived at recommendations for how to approach some of the more complex details of the plan that ultimately required collective bargaining.
“Having the voice of teachers at the table during the Convening brought an element of integrity to the work that the negotiation team could not have brought alone,” said Roosevelt.
This innovative approach to teacher contract negotiations provides a model for other collective bargaining districts across the country. The five-year time span of the contract brings the commitment and stability needed as the District and PFT now focus on the work of improving student achievement.
“PFT President John Tarka, his team, and District staff should be commended for this innovative approach to collective bargaining. While this agreement includes benefits for both the District and its teachers, it is aligned with the steps we are taking to ensure that there is ahighly-effective teacher in every classroom, every day,” continued Roosevelt.
Recognizing Highly Effective Teachers
The new five-year contract includes opportunities for teachers to earn additional compensation based upon student achievement gains. Highlights among these opportunities include:
- A voluntary pay for performance pilot, VIEW (Voluntary Incentive Earning at Work), for teachers at the top of the salary schedule in which teachers will have the opportunity to earn bonuses of up to $8,000 annually. Teachers who opt into the pilot relinquish their rights to negotiated increments at the top of the salary schedule.
- District schools that fall within the top 15% of Pennsylvania schools for growth as verified annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Education will receive a team bonus of $6,000.
- Promise Readiness Corps, which are teams of teachers, counselors and social workers who utilize looping, teaming and advising for an assigned cohort of students. Teachers in the Promise Readiness Corps will be eligible to share a bonus, as measured by student achievement, attendance and course credits during the 9th and 10th grade years of high school.
- All teachers at the top step of the salary schedule will be eligible to receive a $1,000 bonus in each year of the contract that the District achieves the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standard.
- After School Enrichment Periods will provide opportunities for effective teachers to teach one additional class at $3,500 or two at $7,000 added to their base salary.
The contract additionally includes provisions where every employee covered under the agreement receives annual wage increases. Teachers at the top step will have $1,500 added to their salary each year of the agreement. Teachers on steps 1-9 receive salary increases by advancing to the next step.
New World for New Teachers
Opportunities for accelerated earnings, higher earning potential and rewards based on teacher practice and student growth awaits new teachers hired after July 1, 2010. New teachers will be on an 11-step Career Ladder salary schedule that provides opportunities for financial growth earlier than current teachers but only based on proven effectiveness. Additional opportunities for new teachers include:
- Beginning with the 2010-11 school year all new teachers will enter the District through its new Teacher Academy. The Teacher Academy will ensure that all new Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) teachers are prepared to meet the diverse needs of District students. Teachers in the Academy will have the opportunity to learn from a highly effective teacher so that they are ready and prepared to lead a District classroom.
- To ensure that teachers who demonstrate teaching excellence work in the Pittsburgh Public Schools new teachers receive the milestone of tenure after four years instead of the previous three years of the past. Once tenure is achieved these teachers have the opportunity to accelerate their earnings by opting into one of the District’s career ladder positions.
There are no changes in health care coverage for current employees and retirees.