Englewood ratification
Left to Right: Arlene Stephens, Michael Owens, Mary Carpenter, Catherine Philley, Hazel Oglesby, Janine Ellis, Romaine Hassanah, Dana Clark.

Teachers at Englewood on the Palisades Charter School ratified their first contract Thursday, June 21, negotiating changes in the school’s schedule they believe will benefit students. The negotiating team of the New Jersey Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff held that merely adding days to the school year and hours to the school day did not prove to be beneficial to the students. Instead, their newly ratified agreement stresses the importance of an effective school model focused on classroom study and recreation with mentoring and tutoring to foster well-rounded students.

Before organizing their new union in October 2010, Mary Carpenter, a fifth grade teacher from Tenafly, NJ, explained that the school day had been extended, but music, Spanish, art and computer programs were shortened. “As educators we should be educating the total child and not only concentrating on classes that just boost test scores,” said Carpenter.

Now the educators have a new contract and improved relationship with a newly-elected board that recognizes their dedication to the school and students, according to first‐grade teacher Catherine Philley, of Teaneck, NJ. “The resolve this team demonstrated the past year-and-a-half was fundamental to the achievement of this agreement,” said Philley. The initial one-year agreement has raised morale and Philley expressed confidence in negotiating a longer successor contract.

Philley and colleague Romaine Hassanah expressed gratitude for AFTNJ staff representative Yolanda Brewer who worked with the team and the board to reach agreement.

“With patience and perseverance we are able to work through issues,” said Hassanah. “We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you Yolanda and AFT.”

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