WASHINGTON—Educators and the school board at Morris Jeff Community School, a high-performing charter school in New Orleans, have ratified an innovative union contract that supports students and teachers alike and allows the school to advance its core mission to educate all students.
The three-year contract creates a student support committee, made up of educators, administrators and parents, to address the needs of the whole child and to ensure special needs students receive appropriate supports.
It establishes several other mechanisms for labor-management collaboration to focus on the needs of students, and it includes a 5 percent raise for teacher assistants and the creation of a new and fair educator evaluation system.
“This contract at Morris Jeff shows how innovative and supportive union contracts can be,” said United Teachers of New Orleans President Larry Carter. “A contract like this is good for teachers, students and the community, leading to an atmosphere of support and collaboration that schools need to thrive. The student support committee is an especially encouraging piece of this agreement, which has the potential to do wonders for the school and the students.”
"Throughout this whole process, we remained very student-centered,” said Morris Jeff teacher Matthew Tuttle. “The contract we have in place for next year shows both the teachers’ and the administration’s commitment to providing the best possible education for our students. We see this as another exciting and beautiful chapter in the story of Morris Jeff Community School."
"It was empowering as a classroom teacher to speak up and be heard at the table and then to see some of our ideas actually become contract language. The contract we have created speaks directly to our school’s mission and vision,” said Morris Jeff teacher Kristen Weddle.
“Educators at Morris Jeff have joined their colleagues at other charter schools in New Orleans and around the country to form a union as a vehicle to advocate for the supports students need to learn, and the respect educators need to teach,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The innovative contract at Morris Jeff is an important step forward for the entire school community and a great example of how charter educators across the country are using the bargaining process to raise their collective voice to create better schools that benefit students and educators.”
This is the first collective bargaining agreement for Morris Jeff Community School. Morris Jeff is one of four newly unionized charter schools in New Orleans, part of a wave of contract and organizing victories for charter school educators around the nation.
The American Federation of Teachers represents educators at 228 charter schools across 15 states.