Bridgeport’s teachers could ratify a new, three-year contract this Thursday, and though the terms of the contract are not being made public yet, here’s to hoping the Bridgeport Board of Education takes advantage of the rare opportunity it has in its hands.[Connecticut Post, 1/15/2014; Bridgeport Board of Education, Agenda, 1/16/2014]
A few miles up I-95, New Haven teachers and administrators used the occasion of new contracts to break some ground. The three-year deal ratified last month by an overwhelming majority of teachers in New Haven linked pay increases to classroom performance.[New Haven Independent, 12/24/2013]
In Bridgeport, they just finished up new administrator contracts, and board members took the time to thank the administrators’ union for being “fair.”
As Linda Lambeck of the Connecticut Post reported, the Bridgeport school district’s financial projections for the next school year budget for a raise of 1 percent. That’s on top of the 2.75 percent pay increase teachers were afforded in the final year of the current contract. [Connecticut Post, 1/15/2014]
Raises for teachers are great, but New Haven did not reinvent the wheel when the city linked increases in pay to increases in student academic performance. New Haven’s Board of Education didn’t dream up the idea — they just saw that it made sense to try anything and everything they could to improve students’ chances to succeed.
Let’s take a look at Bridgeport teacher contracts in context, using a teacher contract database compiled by ConnCAN. Based on the current agreement, the starting salary for a first-year teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in Bridgeport is just about $1,000 a year shy of the state average. [ConnCAN, Teacher Contract Database]
Moving up the ladder, teachers with Masters’ degrees and doctorates in Bridgeport continue to pull a salary in line with the statewide average.
This in a school district where fewer than one out of every two Black kids is reading at grade level, according to the State Department of Education. [State Department of Education, Bridgeport District Performance Report, 2012-2013]
This in a school district where about one out of every two Latino students won’t graduate high school.
Pay raises for teachers are great. Every teacher has the chance to be a hero a hundred times over every single school year. But while the teachers’ union in New Haven is negotiating with the future of the district in mind, Bridgeport board members are hoping the union will be “fair.”
The union in New Haven worked to create a contract that linked pay to performance, and teachers were almost universally in favor.
Why can’t the same happen in Bridgeport?
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