Baltimore City teachers overwhelmingly passed a landmark contract Wednesday that will provide the opportunity to earn considerable pay increases while tying their evaluations to student performance. The agreement puts the district at the forefront of a national reform movement, education leaders said. "Something historic has happened here in Baltimore," Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said after the votes had been counted.According to an unofficial tally, union members ratified the revised agreement by a 1,902-1,045 vote, just weeks after the original proposal was defeated by a wide margin. The earlier rejection spurred an aggressive campaign by the union to inform members about the details of the contract. The contract takes effect immediately, making Baltimore a leader in efforts to link student performance to teacher evaluations and pay, and to reward teachers who take on leadership roles in their schools, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other education leaders. Under the new pact, teachers will no longer be paid based on step increases, which are automatic raises based on tenure or the number of degrees acquired. Instead, they will climb a four-tier career ladder, which will see an elite corps of teachers earning six-figure salaries. Teachers will also have the opportunity to vote on working conditions at their schools, such as longer school days. In addition, in the last two years of the contract, teachers' pay will be based on an evaluation system not yet drafted by the Maryland State Department of Education that would tie a proposed 50 percent of student performance to teacher evaluations. The contract could also serve as an example to other districts as the state works to reform how teacher evaluations are conducted.
Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun