By Micah C. Lasher

Where will the next mayor take the city’s public schools? The candidates have said as little as possible on the subject. But recent news in two other cities reveals the possibilities.

Teachers in Newark just OK’d one of the nation’s most progressive collective-bargaining agreements. It rewards great teaching and treats educators as true professionals, whose effectiveness in the classroom makes a big difference in the futures of their students.

It’s the first contract in New Jersey to reward highly effective teachers — particularly those teaching hard-to-staff subjects or serving in high-needs schools — with higher pay, and the first to end the traditional system of compensation in which longevity alone determines salary increases. It puts “merit pay” in its proper context: not as a driver of test scores, but as a tool to focus limited resources on our most valuable teachers, so that they stay in the classroom.

All this builds on landmark reforms that New Jersey’s Legislature passed earlier this year, ultimately supported by the state teachers union, including an end to universal and automatic tenure. The longtime president of the Newark teachers union, Joe Del Grosso, called the contract “a step in the right direction for the teaching profession.”


Similar Posts