Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Study Falsely Links Low Teacher Quality to Union Contracts

To: National Desk
Contact: George Jackson of the American Federation of Teachers, 202-393-4275 or
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) today expressed outrage at the lack of real solutions for hard-to-staff schools-as well as meritless attacks on unions-in The New Teacher Project (TNTP) report, "Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts."
"The TNTP report completely misses the mark on the challenge of retaining new teachers in urban schools," said AFT Executive Vice President Antonia Cortese. "Almost 50 percent of new teachers leave schools within five years. If we want to solve this problem, we need to spend more time on retention strategies like peer mentoring and other supports, and less on human resource management issues, like how the districts are managing teacher transfers."
Cortese pointed out that the study's uninformed conclusions about school staffing policies detract from much more relevant issues surrounding teacher retention. Using vague and possibly outdated examples to support its recommendations, the study wrongly implicates union contract language as an obstacle that prevents urban schools from hiring good teachers.
The study is not only short on constructive answers to teacher shortages in urban schools, the AFT noted, but it also lacks merit because of flawed research and hazy reporting. Among the more glaring deficiencies are the failures to provide specific examples of contract language, to compare districts in states both with and without collective bargaining, or to interview any union representatives for the study.
"These contracts are negotiated and agreed upon by districts and unions," said Cortese. "If TNTP had bothered to contact the unions, they would have found that AFT contracts in a number of urban districts clearly and effectively deal with teacher transfer procedures and teacher quality concerns."
The AFT represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; nurses and healthcare workers; and federal, state and local government employees.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/


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