I read an article today in the Washington Post which details how some teachers’ contracts are “restrictive” when districts want to pay teachers more or when districts wish to dictate in which schools teachers teach.
As my student in the first row loves to say when the obvious is presented, “Well, duh!”
Contracts are often written to protect teachers and to maintain the status quo, so of course reform will be difficult when dealing with teacher contracts. My district would love to shuffle teachers around–from the high school to the middle school, from one department to another, and from one level of teaching load to one other–but the contract will not allow this without certain procedures being followed. Shifts can happen but processes must be utilized.
Elder teachers often request contract provisions, at least in my district, to prevent the district from pushing them into unfamiliar teaching situations or into schools with which they have no experience simply because of their K-12 certificates (which are being phased out). Younger teachers may bring in more vitality and experience with technology, so more experienced teachers sometimes feel they may be pushed aside or forced to learn new “tricks” or curricula just before they finish their careers. These teachers also don’t want to worry about lay-offs just prior to retirement eligibility and don’t want to be forced into retirement.
Now, when it comes to paying more teachers more money, I still maintain that all teachers should be given higher pay rather than select groups of teachers. This may be restrictive in some contracts, but fundamentally I don’t believe in this practice. To be fair, however, the article’s author does present pay increases to provide incentives for teachers to apply to teach in schools where applicants can be difficult to find.
Still, I don’t believe in it. Yet. Maybe I can be persuaded at some point.