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Trib editorial: Back-to-the-future teachers contract hinders needed reforms

| Sunday, April 15, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

Six weeks after a tentative agreement narrowly averted a strike, Pittsburgh Public Schools students, parents and taxpayers finally know details of the district's new, three-year teachers contract. They should not be pleased that it's a victory for union resistance to change in a district that must change to improve academic performance.

Most notably, the deal nixes performance incentives that since 2010 had awarded raises more quickly to teachers who did well on state evaluations, which their union's president dismissed as unfair, inconsistent and ineffective. The superintendent says this contract will help reduce teacher turnover and improve school stability. Indeed it will, but by regrettably restoring the prior status quo — a seniority-based, 12-step pay scale that prizes service time over effectiveness.

Then there's the up-to-15-percent bump in teachers' starting salaries, from about $40,000 to $46,920 this fall and $47,858 in 2019-20; the $95,254 salary atop teachers' pay scale; and raises of at least 2 percent for all teachers. Many district taxpayers can only dream of such compensation.

Their envy may well turn to enmity once this back-to-the-future contract's impact on their school-tax bills becomes clear. And with this contract also hindering reforms needed for academic performance, expect still more city families to look beyond Pittsburgh Public Schools to educate their children.

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