New Analysis: The Next Buffalo Contract
Collective bargaining agreements between school districts and educators have a profound influence on the quality of local schools. Among other things, they prescribe how teachers may be hired, paid, advanced, or replaced. With that in mind, TNTP analyzed the current agreement between the Buffalo Board of Education (Buffalo BoE) and the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) to identify revisions that could elevate the teaching profession and improve student learning in the city.
We found some clear opportunities for improvement. After 15 years without a new contract, the Buffalo BoE and BTF have a meaningful opportunity to revisit the agreement and make common sense changes that would result in lasting improvements to teaching and learning in the city. We see the potential for revisions in five critical areas that have spurred real progress in other school systems we have studied:
- Give Principals and Teachers Flexibility During the Hiring Process;
- Increase Starting Salaries and Reward Great Work in the Classroom with Higher Pay;
- Offer Teachers Meaningful Feedback on Performance in the Classroom;
- Create a Supportive Environment for Teaching and Learning; and
- Reduce Unnecessary Processes and Costs.
In this analysis, we suggest several changes to the contract that would support these five goals. With these revisions, new teachers would earn higher starting salaries, attracting more talent to Buffalo schools. Teachers with a proven record of success would be better paid, rewarding them for their achievements and encouraging them to stay in the city’s classrooms. The district would have the freedom to offer more professional development focused on teachers’ and students’ needs. Most importantly, Buffalo schools could make the best interests of students a top priority in decisions about teacher hiring, placement and dismissal, resulting in more classrooms led by effective teachers.