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February 09, 2009

The Green Dot Contract

There are some education reformers that, while they dislike the current UFT contract, are hopeful that a shorter, more flexible contract could work out fine.  The Green Dot charter schools, primarily in Los Angeles but with a new school in New York City, are viewed as a possible example in this direction.

The first Los Angeles Green Dot contract was effective through June 30, 2006.  It was 33 pages (versus the 165 pages of the UFT contract).  The second contract is effective until June 30, 2010.  It is 53 pages, a 60% increase in length.  At that rate, the Green Dot contract will converge with the UFT contract in about two more contract cycles.

The entire increase in length comes from the addition of 20 pages explaining the Green Dot Public Schools Teacher Evaluation System.  It is a two track system.  Track I is for newer teachers.  Track II is for more experienced teachers.  Track I requires exactly two formal teacher evaluations each year.  Track II teachers are evaluated once a year.  "Ten working days notice shall be given for a formal observation.  Formal observations shall be preceded by a pre-observation conference no less than three working days prior and followed by a post-observation conference within ten working days to review and sign the evaluation."   

What happens if, during a formal (black-tie?) observation, the school leader observes a problem?  "If during any teacher observation, an administrator determines that a teacher either does not meet or partially meets any of the standards defined by the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, a development plan may be created to help foster teacher growth."  Next steps? "If, after a minimum of 45 working days has been given for the teacher to improve as specified in the development plan, and there is no evident progress based on the areas of growth identified in the development plan, a 45 school day improvement plan shall be developed."

Luckily, there are no more plans after the development plan and improvement plan.  Since the Green Dot contract allows for exactly 193 days in the work year (which includes ten "pupil free days"), the absolute minimum time to terminate a teacher for poor performance is about half a school year. 

Teachers are paid based on grid that looks exactly like the UFT grid -- it only differentiates pay based on seniority and academic degrees.  Class assignments are made with agreement of the teachers and, if no agreement can be reached, are based on seniority.  Part-time hourly workers to, say, provide extra tutoring or to grade homework are prohibited.  

In short, the current Los Angeles Green Dot contract would require major changes for any of the great charter schools I have visited in New York City.  Meanwhile, the Green Dot school in the city still hasn't reached contract terms with the UFT.  I look forward to reading it. 

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