Teacher Contract Negotiations - End Run
The District's contract negotiators are trying an end-run around the SEA bargaining team to appeal to the teachers directly. They have sent the teachers this letter by email, by regular post, and they have posted it on the web.
Introducing SERVE Seattle:
Support, Empower, Recognize & Value Educators in Seattle
August 3, 2010
Dear Seattle Public Schools Teachers and Other Certificated Staff:
All of us who are part of Seattle Public Schools are committed to providing an excellent education for each child. As we know from our own experience and from national research, nothing matters more to student achievement than good teachers.
Our teachers deserve a system that supports them as professionals, recognizes their excellence, and encourages collaboration to strengthen instruction. That is why we are working together with your SEA representatives to make sure that every teacher gets the tools, time, support, and opportunity needed to help students succeed.
We are writing to you to express our respect for your dedication to our students and to provide information about our efforts to develop a new system to support your success.
Significant change is happening in education throughout the country, and we are committed to a thoughtful, fair and collaborative approach that benefits from lessons learned in other districts and builds on our success here in Seattle.
At the end of the month, you will be gathering to review our progress toward a new contract. After months of deliberation with your labor leaders, we offer this report of some of our current contract proposals. We will send you a more detailed version of our proposals by mail and post information on the District’s website in the days to come.
Benefits of SERVE:
We have designed SERVE carefully to meet the needs of all certificated staff. Our goal is to provide you with the tools, time, support, and opportunity you need to help you grow as professionals and help all students succeed. Specifically, SERVE offers:
► Large blocks of collaborative time for teachers and other staff.
► Career opportunities at every school, with stipends for Demonstration, Mentor and Master teachers.
► Support for new and developing teachers, such as almost doubling the number of STAR mentors to support professional growth in instructional practice.
► Reports that provide detailed information about student outcomes to help teachers understand the effects of their practice on all students they serve.
► Significant new dollars focused on helping principals support struggling teachers by connecting them to relevant professional development, coaching and mentoring opportunities; and doubling the number of HR consulting teachers to support those on performance improvement plans.
► Recognition of the critical work performed in our most challenging schools, by offering stipends to strong-performing teachers in our lowest-performing schools.
► Seattle voters will be asked this November to approve levy funds to support our teachers.
Features of SERVE:
► SERVE is voluntary: while the four-tier evaluation system developed by a joint taskforce is mandatory, and will roll out over the next two years in all schools, teachers can choose when to tie their evaluations to student growth outcomes and peer and student feedback. Those who do opt in fully to SERVE will receive an immediate 1% pay increase (contingent on passage of the Levy or other funds) and become eligible for service teacher stipends, career development opportunities, and targeted support if they are struggling.
► SERVE will use a reliable and balanced set of measures to foster professional growth, including measures determined by teachers themselves. Multiple measures would capture performance in:
• Instruction and professional practice (through the Professional Growth and Evaluation System developed by a joint labor/management taskforce)
• Student learning outcomes and growth
• Overall school performance
• Service to and collaboration with peers and students
Questions about SERVE
Would a new system be put in place immediately? Is it mandatory?
SERVE is voluntary and would be phased in over a period of years. A collaborative system takes time to implement, so we propose that certificated staff have a voice in the program’s development. In the upcoming year, teachers and administrators will work together in a joint committee designed to finalize details of the evaluation system and the supports offered to teachers.
SERVE will roll out District-wide in 2011-2012 as a tool for professional development and growth, and all certificated staff members will have a chance to tie the program to their evaluations at that time. We also recognize that some staff may prefer to see how the program works in the first year or two. For that reason, all current certificated staff members would have the chance to decide if and when they want their evaluations to be tied to student growth measures.
Does this system serve all certificated staff or just some?
All certificated staff will benefit from SERVE. Professional growth opportunities, such as data about student performance and the collaborative support of PLCs, will be available to teachers at all levels of proficiency. Teaching excellence will be recognized as will support to one’s colleagues and service to low-performing schools. Staff who need support would be offered additional resources to help them develop specific strategies to strengthen their teaching.
How would performance be measured in SERVE?
The new, multi-faceted evaluation tool will be fair, comprehensive and reliable. The area of professional practice and instruction will have measures for classroom environment, instruction, planning and preparation, and professional responsibility. Student learning and growth will be based in both teacher-determined and District-determined data and measures, and will account for the fact that not all children are the same. The District measure will be based on the overall growth of a teacher’s students relative to students of similar demographics who have performed like them in previous assessments, and will be calculated as a two-year rolling average on at least two student assessments. The teacher-determined measures would be based on goals aligned with District standards and will be developed within professional learning communities and approved by instructional managers.
We remain committed to a collaborative process at the negotiation table, and we will share information with you through a combination of e-mail, direct mail, and web postings. Our website for labor relations is http://www.seattleschools.org/area/laborrelations/index.dxml
and can also be accessed from the District’s home page by clicking on Labor Relations.
Providing all teachers the opportunity to improve their practice is the pathway to increased student achievement. We look forward to continuing our earnest efforts to reach agreement and being ready to welcome our students back in September for a fabulous new school year.
Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.
School Board Director and
Board spokesperson on negotiations