Detroit Teachers Ratify Ambitious Contract

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The Detroit Federation of Teachers have ratified what AFT president Randi Weingarten calls a "remarkable contract" with the Detroit Public Schools that includes cutting-edge education reforms as well as financial sacrifices by Detroit teachers.

The contract is remarkable both for the ambitious reforms it contains and for the increased voice in their profession it gives teachers, Weingarten says. "The approval of these provisions demonstrates Detroit's teachers' unwavering commitment to improving teaching and learning in their public schools. The contract contains considerable financial sacrifices for teachers, necessitated by the schools' grave economic distress, which further attest to their dedication to their students and their community. Through a respectful, collaborative process, the Detroit Federation of Teachers and the Detroit Public Schools achieved two crucial goals—stabilizing a school system and stabilizing a city.

"Teachers had to swallow hard and accept financial sacrifices. Through this agreement, the Detroit Public Schools has committed to provide better teaching and learning environments, improved tools for instruction, more support and professional development, and a real voice in education decisions. And while compensation received for the next two years will be reduced, teachers will receive a raise in the third year and a bonus when they leave the school district. We hope negotiations with DPS's office employees and paraprofessionals will be conducted in the same solution-oriented and cooperative manner.

"The new teacher contract is the culmination of a long and difficult process. Fulfilling the promise of the agreement and transforming Detroit's public schools will be no less difficult. The agreement's education reforms and provisions, while truly groundbreaking, are mere words on paper without continued collaboration between teachers, their union and the school district." [AFT press release]

December 19, 2009