While we must make every decision about our schools based on what is good for children, not adults, we believe that a kids-first agenda can absolutely go hand in hand with a pro-union agenda. Every day, we are seeing more and more examples around the country of teachers unions standing up for reform that makes sense for both kids and teachers.
In Washington D.C., over 75% of teachers voted to ratify a new contract that gives teachers a 20% raise over five years, bases pay on performance rather than seniority, and allow for real adult accountability. It allows teachers to make up to $140,000 a year while ending the forced placement of teachers at schools they are not wanted and the seniority-only based layoff system that has devastated challenged schools in Los Angeles like Markahm Middle School.
In Colorado, the 1.5 million member American Federation of Teachers provided a crucial endorsement for a groundbreaking teacher effectiveness bill to transform the way teachers are evaluated and given tenure.
In New Haven, CT, union and district leadership have taken positive, collaborative steps towards kids-first change allowing for transformations of failing schools and the way teachers are evaluated.
In Los Angeles, high-quality charter operators such as Camino Nuevo and Green Dot have produced incredible student results with fully unionized teaching staffs. Both operators have agreed to reform union contracts with their teachers that allow for basic job protections and rights while still preserving adult accountability and common-sense, kids-first evaluation systems.
Parent Revolution believes that parents and teachers can march together on completely overhauling the way teachers are treated and evaluated in public education for one simple reason: you cannot have a great school without great teachers. Parents want teachers to be paid a lot more than they currently are to reward their hard work and attract top talent into the profession. Parents want teachers to be respected and freed to teach how they see fit, not micromanaged by some central bureaucrat who has never met their students or set foot in their classroom. But parents also want teachers to be held accountable for how well their students are taught and evaluated based at least in part on how much their students are learning. We can and should use a broad array of tools to evaluate our teachers, including cutting edge value-add data systems that track student learning over time and peer, principal, and parent evaluations. It is past time that we started treating teachers like the professionals they are, rather than the interchangeable widgets our current systems pretend they are.