Chancellor Joel Klein and city teachers union president Michael Mulgrew have been careful not to say too much in public about contract negotiations, which started almost exactly a year ago and have been stalled for months.
But in New York magazine this week, Klein wished out loud for a New York City teachers contract that looks like the one hammered out this year in Washington, D.C.
That contract includes, for the first time, a voluntary performance-pay plan and allows principals to use a student test scores, rather than teacher seniority, to decide who to cut during budget reductions. It also limits the amount of time that excessed teachers can remain on payroll while they search for new positions (in New York, teachers can remain salaried indefinitely after they lose their position in a school).
Those changes are some (though by no means all) of the provisions that Klein is seeking in New York and which the United Federation of Teachers has fiercely resisted. But American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten insisted to the magazine’s reporter that the D.C. contract does not bring radical change:
Over breakfast in Washington, she was at pains to argue that, all appearances to the contrary, the union had made no large concessions, that “tenure was preserved intact,” that the contract “isn’t the breakthrough that New Yorkers and others think it is.” (When I put these claims to Klein, he fairly snorted: “If there are no concessions in there, give it to me! I’ll take that concession-free contract tomorrow!”)