WASHINGTON—Statement from AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers' ratification of a new contract agreement with the Minneapolis Public Schools:
"This agreement helps reclaim the promise of public education in Minneapolis. It opens a new chapter in the relationship that includes the Minneapolis community, Minneapolis educators and the city's public school system. The agreement enables partners to work together to create community schools tailored to meet students' needs, and it recognizes and values the voice and experience of educators in strengthening Minneapolis schools and helping all children succeed.
"The agreement ratified today was a product of nine months of tough negotiations and mediation. The vote by MFT members to approve it is a statement of their continuing commitment to the collective bargaining process as the best way to define the solutions that will serve all children.
"By taking important steps toward limiting class sizes—particularly in the city's high-priority schools—this agreement advances the goal that teachers, parents and all who care about Minneapolis children share: making sure that all students, no matter what neighborhood they live in, receive the support they need to succeed, with equity in resources across the school district.
"I commend MFT President Lynn Nordgren and her bargaining team for working through many challenges in negotiations with the school district to reach an agreement that will be good for both teaching and learning. This agreement:
• For the first time ever, makes class size targets public, sets a limit of 18 students for K-3 classes in high-priority schools, and includes a commitment from the district to respond to class size issues within five days.
• Establishes an audit of standardized assessments, with the stated goal of reducing the time devoted to testing and test preparation beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
• Establishes a collaborative process for creating Community Partnership Schools that will allow teachers to take a lead role in developing site-based educational models designed to meet the particular needs of students at individual schools.
• Includes small increases in compensation in each year of the contract. These raises recognize the value of MFT members' contributions and commitment to the children of Minneapolis—and they come after four straight years in which teachers received no cost of living increases."
The new two-year agreement covers the current and the 2014-15 school years. It will take effect following approval by the board of education, which is expected at the board's next regular meeting.