After two and a half years of emotional and controversial negotiations, the Washington, D.C., teachers union ratified a new contract last week that dilutes the strength of seniority protections and introduces a voluntary pay-for-performance program. Union members approved the new agreement overwhelmingly in a 1,412-425 vote. The new contract includes a pay raise of 21.6 percent over five years (retroactive to the expiration of the old contract) that will raise average annual salary from $67,000 to $81,000. Philanthropic support made the generous financial package possible. Under the new regime, principals will use job performance, as opposed to seniority, as the top criterion to make decisions about staff reductions when budget or program changes require it.
Will the new contract lead to improved performance at D.C. schools? Should other cities look for foundation support to supplement teacher pay? What are the national implications?