Teachers in New Haven, Connecticut recently ratified a contract that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised as an “important progressive labor agreement” for its provisions on teacher evaluation and school reform. David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, recently told us about the agreement.
(Stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with New Haven district officials Garth Harries and Will Clark.)
Public School Insights: There has been a lot of praise given to the new contract in New Haven. What do you think are the most groundbreaking provisions of this agreement?
Cicarella: There are three components that get the most attention. One, our willingness to discuss tenure. Two, our willingness to talk about including test scores as a part of teacher evaluation. And three, the contract’s provisions for the closing and chartering of schools.
Public School Insights: Let’s start with tenure. What do you think the big accomplishment has been on that part of the agreement?
Cicarella: Historically, unions have been completely unwilling to discuss tenure, because it’s the only protection that teachers have against unfair dismissal.
But we’ve got to tighten up the dismissal process. We can’t have folks—and this is a complaint that the public makes and is legitimate—going through two, three, four years of improvement plan after improvement plan, when everyone knows that ...