UFT President Randi Weingarten, Green Dot Public Schools founder and Chairman Steve Barr, and Green Dot New York Charter School Chairman Jeffrey T. Leeds announced on June 23 a tentative three-year contract agreement .for the Green Dot New York Charter School in the Bronx. The agreement was ratified by an overwhelming majority. The three-year contract is retroactive to August 25, 2008, through August 31, 2011.
“This agreement is based on a very basic premise: teacher professionalism is the surest path to sustained student achievement,” said Weingarten.
“At its core, this contract is about shared expectations and shared responsibility. Our educators are being asked to take a leading role in the success of their school, and they’re being provided with the professional supports needed to help make that success possible,” added Weingarten.
The collaborative process that produced the UFT and Green Dot contract represents a significant example of labor and management working together. Both parties came together with the best interests of students and the teachers responsible for educating them as a first priority. These cooperative negotiations are a model for interest-based bargaining by underscoring the intimate link between the interests of children and the aspirations and needs of their educators. The resulting contract upholds fair treatment and educator voice while maintaining the charter school’s mandate of innovation and achievement.
“Green Dot has had great success in working with the unionized teaching force in Los Angeles and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Randi Weingarten and the United Federation of Teachers in New York”, said Green Dot Public Schools founder and Chairman, Steve Barr.
“We believe that this contract and this partnership can serve as a model that can be replicated throughout the country. It’s important that unions and educators come together to do what’s best for our kids and their education,” said Barr.
Green Dot currently operates 18 charter schools in Los Angeles and is completing its first year in New York City.
“Across the country, we are hearing from more and more school educators who want the fairness and professionalism that comes with union membership and a collective bargaining agreement. Today’s contract serves as a model for these educators and the charter school movement more broadly,” said Weingarten.
“Green Dot has an outstanding track-record of high student achievement, and is an outspoken supporter of teacher professionalism and unionism,” said Weingarten. “Just like the UFT, Green Dot recognizes that a commitment to collaboration and fair pay, treating teachers with respect and giving them a voice in the workplace are all crucial to recruiting and retaining great educators and helping students to excel. It’s a perfect fit,” she said. The contract contains the following key elements:
- Starting in September, teachers and other UFT-represented staff will receive salaries 14% higher than those in regular public schools in return for a “professional day” schedule and a longer school year. This is consistent with Green Dot’s practice of maximizing its resources on teaching and learning.
- A student-teacher ratio capped at 20 to 1, a limit on class size of 30 students, and a maximum load for any one teacher of 130 students. By comparison, teaching loads in city high schools can be as large as 165 students per teacher.
- The creation of six professional committees for teachers to have a strong voice in school policies and decisions, including a leadership, budget, hiring and professional development committee.
- Strong due process rights for teachers starting from their first day on the job and only a one-year probation period for other UFT-represented staff. By comparison, city educators must complete a three-year probation prior to gaining their full due process protections.
“The collaborative process by which we negotiated the contract gave us a clear understanding of Green Dot’s support of its teachers and the UFT’s commitment to bargaining a contract that is consistent with the Green Dot model. We’re very pleased with the final contract and believe it will enable us to continue to move our students forward. This contract gives a “letter” to the “spirit” of this strong partnership,” said Lauren Inzelbuch, the school’s UFT chapter leader, and a teacher-representative to the negotiating committee.
Green Dot Public Schools is one of the catalysts for public school reform in Los Angeles and is dedicated to strengthening public education in Los Angeles so that all children receive the education they need to reach their full potential. It currently operates eighteen public charter high schools in Los Angeles’ highest-need communities. Each Green Dot school (branded “Ánimo” schools) vastly outperforms comparable traditional public high schools. For more information visit: www.greendot.org