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Paterson Education Fund Director: School Officials Pleased with New Teacher Contracts

8-28-14

In just one week, New Jersey’s schools open their doors and in Paterson six schools will have new principals and every teacher will have a new contract. The new contracts will include merit pay for top teachers and an out for teachers who don’t want to be ranked by performance. Paterson Education Fund Executive Director Rosie Grant told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that it took a while to reach an agreement but the school officials are pleased.

“It took a long time to get there but we’re pleased that we got there,” said Grant. “The seasoned teachers have an option of opting into this new contract or staying with the contract that they’ve had, which allows for pay advances with lateral movement. This new contract is based on teacher ranking as effective, highly effective or partial and the teachers that rank on the top get to move two tiers. If you’re effective, you move one tier.”

With the new contract, teachers would be paid more depending on how good they are, according to Grant.

While negotiations occurred, Grant said that she had heard some push back from teachers who thought they weren’t consulted enough.

Whether the new contracts will have an impact on teacher effectiveness, Grant said that she does not know. Grant also said that there are other factors that feed into whether or not a teacher is effective in the classroom.

“It certainly will have an impact on teacher morale because the teachers have been feeling not very appreciated, having waited four years for the contract,” Grant said. “So my perspective as a community person and advocate in Paterson, I’m just really pleased that they’ve gotten to a settlement and we have a contract and now we can focus on educating the kids.”

Grant said that the evaluation system used to rank teachers is complex and that teachers are being ranked by their peers, principals and other administrators. She also said that time on the job counts in the evaluation, as well as performance.

Grant said that she sees that the system could work as a model for other school districts. She also thinks that since the district negotiated with the union, it should work well.

For the upcoming school year, Paterson schools will begin to offer “Breakfast after the Bell” which will give each student breakfast after the school bell and before learning starts. Grant said that the Paterson Education Fund had been advocating for the program.

Grant said that many students had been going to school hungry and that many of them live below the poverty level.

“Under this federal program, the district will get reimbursed for feeding every child breakfast after the bell,” said Grant. “All the kids get fed because we have enough kids qualify and I think it will improve learning. When kids are hungry, they don’t learn.”

Grant said that she is pleased with the breakfast program.

“So we’re really pleased that we’re going to do this for after the bell and it also includes school lunch for every child and it is reimbursed by the federal government,” Grant said.


  • Former Paterson teacher

    Did you even talk to any Paterson teachers or read the contract before airing this bit of propaganda? Teachers cannot chose to stay with the new contract or the old one, they can choose which salary guide to be on. That process is completely confusing and has been disastrous from the start. No one, not one teacher anywhere in the state of NJ can opt out of the new evaluation system, which is, despite the lengthy rubric, very subjective. No one is going to score highly effective. Even if two of your observations are good, one bad one can drag down your rating. Only administrators evaluate teachers, not other teachers, so I don’t know what you mean by “peers”, they are your supervisors. Teachers are still not happy because the new contract distinguishes between having Master’s degree and a Bachelor’s. Only those with Master’s Degrees were moved up any steps during the years when there was no contract. NJ does not require teachers to have advanced degrees and this has created tension. Salaries remain frozen for many dedicated educators and they are understandably upset. Do some more research and try again please.

    • mills

      Well said. People are putting out lies about teachers and we take them blame silently. That contract was unfair!!