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Teachers In D.C. Overwhelmingly Vote To Ratify Tentative Agreement

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Mail-in ballots from teachers in D.C. were counted at the American Arbitration Association.
Kavitha Cardoza
Mail-in ballots from teachers in D.C. were counted at the American Arbitration Association.

By Kavitha Cardoza

Teachers in D.C. have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a tentative union agreement, a deal that’s been almost three years in the making. More than 1,400 union members voted in favor of the contract, while approximately 400 voted against it.

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union, says the 55 percent turnout was "outstanding." And after almost three years of waiting, "It's a relief."

One of the highlights of the agreement is a more-than 20 percent increase in salary for teachers, with approximately half of that money available this year. Parker says that, along with other supports, makes it a "blueprint" for how to improve D.C. schools.

"It means teachers are going to receive more resources, professional development," he says, "we finally have a contract that focuses on student discipline; teachers are finally going to be paid what they're worthy of being paid."

There is also a pay-for-performance plan, where teachers could earn bonuses of up to $30,000. Teachers can opt into that program; those details still have to be worked out.

Teachers also have concerns about the new teacher evaluation system. While that didn’t need to be collectively bargained, whether teachers get to keep their jobs is based largely on that system, not seniority.

Parker says there will be an independent evaluation of the system, as well as monthly meetings with D.C. public school officials to review the process.

The city council still needs to sign off on the contract agreement.

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