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WTU President Says Implementing Contract Is Critical

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WTU President George Parker, after the union overwhelmingly ratified the contract.
Kavitha Cardoza
WTU President George Parker, after the union overwhelmingly ratified the contract.

By Kavitha Cardoza

More than 14,000 teachers voted in favor of a tentative labor agreement in D.C., while approximately 400 voted against it. The D.C. Council still needs to sign off on the proposal. The union's leader says how the contract is implemented will be critical.

George Parker, the president of the Washington Teachers union says he gets to rest for a day, then the real work of implementing the contract as it's written, begins.

"The challenge for both the union and the Chancellor now is to not make this a paper tiger," says Parker.

The agreement which includes a more than 20 percent salary increase for teachers, also focuses on student discipline and professional development.

But there are still aspects that need to be decided, such as details of a pay for performance plan teachers can opt into, which would allow them to earn between $20,000 to $30,000 more.

"The what, when, how, who. How do you qualify in? How do we make it fair to teachers who are in testing grades and those who are not," he says.

Parker says he will meet with teachers to get their input. He says there will be an independent look at the new teacher evaluation system which determines whether teachers keep their jobs, regardless of seniority.

And teachers may soon have to cast their votes again, in upcoming union elections. Parker will run against Nathan Saunders, who has been opposed to the union agreement.

"What does this mean in terms of your relection?"

"Oh I don't know. I haven't really given it a thought," says Parker.

"Really?"

But the contract is something union members are likely to think about when they go to the ballot box.

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