Teachers as Free Agents in DC

The ongoing revolution in teacher contracts continues. The school district in Washington DC faces intense competition from charter schools as charter school enrollment rises and district enrollment declines. More than 30 percent of DC children attend charter schools. This means competition for teachers as well. Via the Washington Post:

The Washington Teachers’ Union is discussing a proposed three-year contract from the school system that would eliminate seniority. Without seniority, Rhee could place teachers based on qualifications or performance rather than years of service, said the union member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential. The union member said Rhee sought the provision as a recruiting tool so she could offer talented candidates the position of their choice. She would be able to fill positions with less experienced teachers. Under the proposed contract, teachers would give up seniority in exchange for annual raises of about 6 percent, more personal-leave days and more money for supplies, the union member said. In the last contract, which expired in the fall, teachers received a 10 percent raise over two years.

This latest development offers more anecdotal support for my thesis that as competition intensifies union contracts will become less restrictive and teachers will become more valuable. Last year teachers in New York City became free agents in exchange for a raise. It looks like the teachers union in DC may agree to a similar deal. Since teachers are likely to continue to receive more money, it is a good strategy to exchange dollars for flatter, less-restrictive teacher contracts. Thank you charter school movement. Teachers deserve school choice too.