Sunday, December 28, 2008
The Leadership Limbo: Teacher Contracts in 50 School Districts
Comments from the blog Friends of Dave:
The Leadership Limbo
Submitted by dave on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 07:01
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute just released a report called, The Leadership Limbo, which evaluates the teacher contracts in 50 of the largest school districts in the country. Their findings were very interesting:
Thirty, or more than half, of the 50 districts have labor agreements that are ambiguous. The collective bargaining agreements and the formal board policies in these districts appear to grant leaders substantial leeway to manage assertively, should they so choose.
Fifteen of the 50 districts are home to Restrictive or Highly Restrictive labor agreements. Nearly 10 percent of the nation's African-American K-12 students population attend school in the 15 lowest-scoring districts-making these contracts major barriers to more equal educational opportunity.
The study also found that districts with high concentrations of poor and minority students tend to have more restrictive contracts than other districts-another alarming indication of inequity along racial and class lines.
The labor agreements of the nation's 50 largest districts are particularly restrictive when it comes to work rules.
Most of these agreements are also quite restrictive when it comes to rewarding teachers for service in hard-to-staff subject areas such as math and science, with 31 actually prohibiting districts from doing so.
I believe unions have played an important role in protecting employees from abusive employers. Unfortunately, I think that pendulum has swung much too far the other way. Some teacher unions take their role as protector of teachers way too seriously, to the point of being protectors of the status quo and becoming a detriment to real school reform. If we could move that pendulum back more to the middle, I think we'd have a situation where school districts and teacher unions could work together and put what is best for kids above their individual interests.
An Interview with author Frederick Hess
NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
The results of the New York City Public Schools:
Overall GPA: 1.63 = Restrictive Rating, the second lowest possible
Personnel Policies: C+
Work Rules: D+