Is It a Good Deal?
How New Yorkers Should Judge The Next Teachers' Contract
The New York City teachers’ contract expired on October 31, 2009. A new agreement may be reached soon. As the City faces a $5 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year and key educational reforms remain unfinished, here are key questions parents and taxpayers should ask to judge whether the next contract is a good deal for them.
- DOES IT SAVE TAXPAYERS MONEY?
- Salary increases should be funded with value-generating concessions. The Mayor’s budget includes funds for two 4 percent annual raises costing $655 million annually; this is no longer affordable without offsetting savings.
- Pension and health insurance reforms should be implemented. Already agreed to increases in teachers’ contributions to their pension fund and additional pension benefit changes should be implemented, and new measures to curb health insurance costs should be put in place.
- DOES IT ENCOURAGE GOOD TEACHING?
- Merit pay should replace seniority rewards. Ending pay increases solely for seniority after ten years would eventually save about $285 million annually, enough to fund a substantial merit pay program.
- Financial rewards should attract qualified teachers in shortage fields. Nearly one-in-ten teachers is not certified to teach in the subject to which they are assigned, especially in special education, math and science. Targeted pay increases should be used to help staff these areas.
- DOES IT END PAYMENTS TO THOSE WHO DO NOT OR CANNOT TEACH?
- Compensation for teachers who are not teaching should end. About 1,400 teachers are paid to be in an “Absent Teacher Reserve”- at a cost of about $74 million annually – which does not require them to teach regularly. They should be compensated only for a six month period while searching for a new job, not carried indefinitely on the payroll.
- Unsatisfactory teachers should be terminated quickly. Approximately 640 teachers charged with poor performance and other infractions are taken out of the classroom and paid for an average of nearly three years while their cases are considered; this process should be greatly expedited by hiring more arbitrators and other measures.