Today is back to business as usual for the 17 high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that were closed since last week . All the teachers returned to the classroom after coming to an agreement with the diocese regarding stalled contract negotiations Monday.
"Our teachers could not be happier to head back into the classrooms," Rita Schwartz, president of Local 1776, the teacher's union, said in a press release. "We've been waiting a long time for this day and we are relieved that it is finally here."
Monday's membership meeting, where the teacher's voted on the tentative agreement, lasted two hours and outlined the agreement in detail, the release continued, adding that included language regarding job security, the teacher's main concern.
"This was clearly addressed in the contract language," the release stated. "The teachers can now return to work without fear of losing their jobs due to school closings or part-time teachers."
According to a letter that was sent to parents from the archdiocese, the new agreement "is truly the watershed agreement we had hoped to attain for the current and future benefit of students, parents, teachers and administrators."
The letter states that some key points in the new agreement "are essential to continued education excellence for our students in a 21st century learning landscape." Some included:
- The implementation of GradeConnect, an online course management system that will be utilized by all teachers.
- Structured lesson plans will be submitted by all teachers in the 2012-2013 School Year with in-servicing on this topic provided to teachers during the current school year.
- Part-time teachers will be used to supplement instructional programs. This provision gives the flexibility needed to offer specialized and unique courses.
- Tenure will be granted to teachers new to the system once they have earned evaluation ratings of “distinguished” or “proficient”.
Other sticking points included increased instructional time and new technology standards. For a full list provided by the archdiocese click here.