- —First paragraph of the Agreement between the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York and United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
- —New York City Intermediate School Principal
not had an altogether benign influence on public education. Studies of the Boston and Milwaukee school systems and a review of teacher contracts in Michigan reveal significant ways in which collective bargaining has tied the hands of administrators, impeded reform, and made it more difficult to restore accountability for educational achievement.3
- With respect to matters not covered by this Agreement which are proper subjects for collective bargaining, the Board agrees that it will make no changes without appropriate prior consultation and negotiation with the Union.
The Board will continue its present policy with respect to sick leave, sabbatical leaves, vacations and holidays except insofar as change is commanded by law.
All existing determinations, authorizations, by-laws, regulations, rules, rulings, resolutions, certifications, order, directives, and other actions, made, issued or entered into by the Board of Education governing or affecting salary and working conditions of the employees in the bargaining unit shall continue in force during the term of this Agreement, except insofar as change is commanded by law.5
- The personnel committee will select the most experienced qualified applicant of those candidates who apply for vacancies advertised under the transfer component of the SBO transfer and staffing plan. However, a less experienced applicant may be selected if the committee determines that the applicant possesses extraordinary qualifications.11
- It is our joint expectation that by the final year of the agreement all schools will have personnel committees and will receive the training necessary to undertake the process of staffing their schools.12
- Grievances involving the exercise of Board discretion under any term of this Agreement may be submitted to arbitration to determine whether the provision was disregarded or applied in a discriminatory or arbitrary or capricious manner so as to constitute an abuse of discretion, namely: whether the challenged judgment was based upon facts which justifiably could lead to the conclusion as opposed to merely capricious or whimsical preferences, or the absence of supporting factual reasons.17
- Suppose I have a teacher who is absent 12 days during the year. I put a letter in her file, which she grieves. At the hearing the union asks: “Did you review everyone’s cumulative absences register? Did you send this letter to every single person who was absent ten or more days?”
- In determining what, if any, penalty or other action shall be imposed, the hearing officer shall consider the extent to which the employing board made efforts towards correcting the behavior of the employee which resulted in charges being brought under this section through means including but not limited to: remediation, peer intervention or an employee assistance plan.23
- The ambiguity inherent in teacher evaluation and the job security of most teachers exert a powerful influence on administrators to tolerate the incompetent teacher and to avoid the use of dismissal. Although incompetence is sufficient cause for dismissing a tenured teacher, it constitutes extremely problematic grounds for challenging the tenured teacher’s employment contract with the district. Incompetence is a concept with no precise meaning; moreover, there are no clear-cut standards or cut-off points which enable an administrator to say with certitude that a teacher is incompetent. This ambiguity poses a serious problem for administrators because the burden of proof falls on them to demonstrate that a teacher is incompetent. Administrators can never be confident under these conditions that a Commission on Professional Competence or a court judge will uphold their judgment.26
- I wrote a job description for a testing liaison person. The job qualifications were grieved as too specific and I had to rewrite the job description using more generic language. To keep out someone who wasn’t right for the job, I had to find a letter in the file to explain why they (sic) didn’t get it. Essentially, I had to make up a reason based on a past incident, rather than simply express my professional judgment. It’s not really fair to the teacher, but the process doesn’t allow me simply to say this isn’t the best person for the job.
- I would like to create academies. For this I need teachers to lead them as deans. These would be comp-time positions. Knowing who would get the jobs, I haven’t pursued it: there would go my academies.
- I feel restricted in getting staff together for meetings. In business if I needed to conduct a team meeting, I would just call it. We are constrained in the number of meetings, confined to one official meeting per month. I have a good staff and have been able to work around it. But I was not so lucky in the past.
- Teachers not only refuse, they also approach others, saying: “Don’t do it. This is a hard-won right. Don’t go against the contract.” Often they are successful in influencing others, especially newer teachers, even though some of the newer teachers actually want to meet more often for guidance.
- I don’t know a school in the system that hasn’t done this. It allows you to buy your way out of a box. Of course, now the teachers have you, since you’re violating the by-laws of the Board of Education by signing a false time sheet and they know it. But due to the lack of flexibility, the alternatives are to break the law or have the system come to a halt.
- “Preparation periods” are those periods during which the teacher is not assigned to a regularly programmed responsibility. Teachers are expected to utilize their professional preparation time in such manner as to enable them to further their professional work for the purpose of their greater classroom effectiveness.36
- Hard-working, caring teachers will privately say, “Such and such is happening, but you can’t use my name.” I’m trying to change this culture. If peer pressure doesn’t work, then I need to take more formal action, for which I need the cooperation of teachers who are now protecting their colleagues. The union is related to this attitude.
- A charter doesn’t mean the principal will act autocratically. Instead, it gives you the freedom to use cooperative management more flexibly. Groups will form and dissolve to decide particular policies. This is a reasonable way to have collective input without autocracy. While you will do some things even without the contract that the contract now calls for, there are other areas where more managerial flexibility is needed: how to use prep periods, cover lunch hours, provide professional development. Everything can’t be a teacher’s choice, covered by contract language, if the school is to run.
- Accountability is demanded equally of every member of each school leadership team and of every person who works within the school system. In this context, the Chancellor is as accountable as a classroom teacher, and a manager in the Division of Human Resources is as accountable as a principal. Every staff member, parent, union representative, or community member is responsible for making the best possible contribution, within the definition of his or her role, to improving the delivery of instruction to students.38