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Effective Teaching Campaign keeps focus on union contract

Peer review and expanded site selection are key new provisions to be monitored.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Effective Teaching Campaign, which advocated for a union contract that promoted the more equitable distribution of teachers, now plans to closely monitor the implementation of the pact signed by the District and PFT in January.

The campaign, a coalition of more than 20 groups led by the Education First Compact and the Cross City Campaign for School Reform, hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough.

Still, it plans to continue its work to ensure some of the contract’s more far-reaching provisions are carried out successfully, said spokesperson Brian Armstead, community outreach coordinator for the Philadelphia Education Fund.

In particular, he said, it will look at how the expanded site-selection system works in practice and how the peer review process for teacher evaluation is developed and implemented. It will also encourage the District to do more work around principal leadership and to undertake an intense assessment on the contract’s major initiatives.

On site selection, in which principals and school leadership teams fill vacancies instead of accepting assignments through seniority, the campaign plans to “do work in individual schools, getting feedback on the ground,” Armstead said.

It will also “talk to teachers and administrators about peer review and how it is rolling out.”

It will seek anecdotal evidence, but also encourage the District to work with Research for Action to do “a real evaluation around teacher effectiveness,” he said.

The campaign had sought more incentives to get teachers into hard-to-staff schools. That work will continue primarily by promoting a more detailed look at school leadership. Teachers overwhelmingly cite leadership in making decisions to stay in a school or transfer out.

The campaign would like to study how principals operate in different types of schools and pinpoint what’s needed to improve teacher quality.

“If a principal is responsible for many things across the board, given that, what supports are necessary to carve out the time to be an effective instructional leader and what training do they need?” Armstead asked.

“We’d love to work with the District and the union to figure that all out.”

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