June 2, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President,
American Federation of Teachers, on
Ratification of New D.C. Teachers Contract
Members of the Washington Teachers’ Union today voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative agreement for teachers in the District of Columbia Public Schools.
WASHINGTON—The teachers of Washington, D.C., have spoken today by voting to ratify their new contract. During three years of often rancorous negotiations, budget shortfalls and relentless criticism, it was inspiring to watch D.C. teachers give everything they had to help the students of the District.
To understand why this contract was overwhelmingly ratified today, it is important to know where we started. Three years ago, the contract discussion revolved around a color-coded compensation plan. We and the Washington Teachers’ Union felt then, as we do today, that our students, teachers and community needed and deserved more. Through negotiations, we believe we arrived at an agreement that better serves educators and their students.
In short, we fought against an approach that put all responsibility on individual teachers, and fought for an approach that held everyone, including DCPS, teachers, student and parents, mutually accountable and jointly responsible. We insisted that DCPS required a thoughtful and workable education plan that gives teachers the tools and conditions they need to teach our children. As a result, this contract includes teacher development that will improve teacher quality, boosts compensation to attract and reward good teachers, focuses on student discipline, and preserves due process.
In the end, collective bargaining was an essential tool to create an agreement that is good for children and fair to teachers. It also established what we have always believed: that high-quality teaching and learning depends on the entire school system being engaged in our children’s academic success, not just the teachers.
This agreement lays a strong foundation for improved teaching and learning in D.C. public schools.
It is now up to DCPS and the WTU to take the words of the agreement and make it a reality. The conversation between the WTU and DCPS can’t end when the ink is dry on the contract. We hope and expect there will be continual communication, cooperation and growing trust between labor and management.
If that can happen, it will be a great day for the District of Columbia.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.