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Editorial: Rahm is wrong about the Boston teachers union contract

BostMayor Thomas M. Menino (lectern) with BostTeachers Unipublic school officials talks about teachers contract agreement reached Wednesday after more than

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (at lectern), with Boston Teachers Union and public school officials, talks about the teachers contract agreement reached Wednesday after more than two years of negotiations. | Matthew West Boston Herald via AP

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Updated: September 13, 2012 10:16AM

If only Chicago teachers could be more like those enlightened educators in Boston.

They settled their thorny conflicts over teacher recall, teacher evaluations and pay without a strike, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters at City Hall on Wednesday.

And Boston teachers agreed to only a 12 percent raise over six years (take that CTU, which is thumbing its nose at a 16 percent average raise over four years!)

Or so Emanuel would like us all to believe.

Without flinching, Emanuel on Wednesday misrepresented the Boston teachers settlement, contorting the facts to help advance his cause as he battles the union. And we pause here, because we support his cause.

But the facts, they’re so pesky!

Let’s start with the raise: Chicago’s 16 percent includes a cost-of-living pay raise plus annual increases for each extra year of service and more education. The COLA raise is only half of the 16 percent.

Shockingly, Boston’s announced raise only includes the COLA. But the district, like nearly every one in the country, also offers raises for experience and education. This omission makes comparison impossible and unfair — but so hard to resist!

Those extra raises in Boston amount to an additional 2 to 3 percent a year, the school system tells us.

Boston teachers, it follows, will get raises that range from roughly 24 to 30 percent on average over six years.

Not 12 percent.

Next up is teacher recall. The Chicago Teachers Union wants teachers displaced from closed schools to get first crack at job openings, something Chicago has never had.

Boston has always had recall, always and forever guaranteeing laid-off teachers a job. Seniority trumps all else. That remains in the new contract for teachers displaced from closed schools, even though Emanuel said principals in Boston “will have the ability to hire who they want to hire.” What’s new in Boston is that principals will have greater flexibility in hiring when a candidate isn’t from a closed school, the schools spokesman said.

Finally, there’s teacher evaluations. Here, Emanuel was closest to the truth. Boston teachers agreed to evaluations based in part on student performance. Boston doesn’t have a set percentage like Chicago — 40 percent of the total evaluation — and their union president tells us it will never get that high in Boston. Still, the union agreed to the new evaluation, which is more than we can say for Chicago.

Emanuel was right to praise Boston for inking a deal without dragging kids out of school, a key point as the Chicago strike heads into its fourth day.

Emanuel would have done us all a favor, himself included, if he had left it at that.

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