Teaching points

Letters to the Boston editors, March 30, 2012
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  March 28, 2012


The Boston Teachers Union and the Boston School Department have been negotiating for a successor contract over the last 22 months (see "Q: Who Hates School Reform?" Editorial, March 23). Our goal is to obtain an agreement that is good for students, affordable to the city, and fair to our members. While progress has not been as marked as we would like, we still have made significant progress in making reforms. That's why the Phoenix editorial gives us pause.

We agree with the Phoenix that our schools need to provide the best they can for our students. In some matters, that means we have to fix what isn't working. We have gone in that direction, and, in fact, we take a back seat to no one in that regard. We ask only that the changes implemented are sensible and fair. So of course we disagree when the editorial says we are an "impediment to change" with "perverted priorities," and then cites as an example our "opposition to fixing a broken and flawed teacher-hiring and -reassignment process." This is both harsh and untrue.

Both parties have agreed to a new teacher-assignment process. The BTU actually proposed the change that will become part of the new agreement. The school department readily agreed to our proposal, and the system, when it is in place, will work well for all parties. Your editorial suggests that the superintendent got the change in the teacher-assignment process by initiating it and then dragging us along. That's the opposite of what has happened. The change was our idea.

We reached the staffing agreement at about same time the city made its first — and only — salary offer to us eight months ago. We rejected their offer at that time and countered with an offer that mirrors the rate of inflation. We don't think that an increase that hovers around three percent is either too extravagant or too costly.

We have steadily negotiated for a lower class size, better professional development and training, better sanitary conditions, adequate heat and facilities, and so on. None of these items says "to hell with students." In fact, we have paid dearly for each of them, as the "cost" of each item of school improvement comes out of the dollars set aside to settle a respective contract.

We look forward to settling this contract in a way that is both good for students and fair to our members. Thank you.


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