This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The Effective Teaching for Every Child campaign gave the new teachers’ contract mostly high marks in a report card, but said that it does not provide enough incentives to recruit and keep teachers in hard-to-staff schools.
While progress was made in site selection, teacher standards and evaluations, and tailoring professional development to the needs of specific schools, "we also see a larger missed opportunity," said Lauren Jacobs of the Cross City Campaign for School Reform, a coordinator of the campaign. More should have been done to make these schools more attractive places to work, she said.
At a rally and press conference in front of School District headquarters, about 60 students, parents and teachers gathered to express their opinion on the contract. To express their mixed feelings, they chanted, "Way to go, more to go."
The campaign is urgently concerned about distributing effective and experienced equitably across the system and creating stable staffs at the neediest schools. It gave the contract a D on incentives because:
- it doesn’t specify that high-needs schools get grants for special programs to attract teachers
- besides a tuition-reimbursed master’s degree program in high-needs schools, it doesn’t offer other incentives for teachers to work there, including inducements for teams of teachers to transfer together.
While the master’s program is good, "it is not enough," said Shania Morris, an 8th grader at Huey Middle School in West Philadelphia and Philadelphia Student Union member. "Right now the way teachers are distributed in schools is backwards. The students that need the most academic attention get teachers that are not effective or not really qualified. The schools that are already doing well get the most effective and qualified teachers."
On the other campaign priorities, grades were as follows:
Full site selection: B +
The campaign liked that mandatory site selection is expanded to all high-needs schools, that site selection committees will include an additional teacher, and that teachers and parents will have a stronger voice through consensus. However, it said students should be represented on the committees, and that the hiring process is still very complex. It would have preferred full site selection, in which all teachers are placed that way instead of having some still choose where to teach through seniority. Jon Cetel of campaign member Good Schools Pennsylvania called the expansion of site selection a significant victory.
Standards and Evaluations: A –
It praised the new Peer Assistance and Review system, which will overhaul the often perfunctory teacher evaluation process, as increasing professionalism and letting teachers help other teachers. But it said that students should have input in teacher evaluations.
Professional Development: B
The campaign liked that consulting teachers would assist new teachers and those rated unsatisfactory and that teachers and principals will be able to design individual plans for their schools. But it said the contract does not provide for a school’s faculty, as a whole, to identify its needs.