Teacher salary system decried
A powerful study by the Boston Foundation as Massachusetts debates reform:
As Boston delves into contentious negotiations with its teachers union, the Boston Foundation yesterday released an analysis critical of the longstanding system of boosting teacher pay for longevity and coursework, instead of for bettering the academic performance of students.
The analysis instantly angered officials of the teachers union and emboldened School Department leaders, who are negotiating during a tight budget crunch and a national debate over teacher accountability.
The analysis, prepared by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau for the Boston Foundation, points out that in addition to annual wage increases, teachers receive raises for staying in their jobs, and for taking higher education courses. The document highlighted the fact that some newer teachers can receive a 44 percent increase over four years because of annual wage increases and longevity, or "step'' raises, according to the report. If those same teachers also earned a master's degree in that time, the raise would be 48.2 percent, to $74,196.
"The current contract is a 250-page relic,'' said Paul S. Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation. The foundation leads a coalition that is pushing for stricter teacher evaluations tied to pay and longer school days, among other changes, as part of a new school contract. "The question now is whether this system, so costly and so disconnected from student performance, is in the best interests of the community,'' he said.
The analysis was released as Boston and its 7,000-member teachers' union are in the early stages of negotiating a new contract to replace one that expired in August. The city is facing one of the bleakest financial forecasts in recent memory — the School Department is projecting a $63 million budget shortfall for the next school year — and pressure is mounting on the union to restructure the compensation package teachers receive.