December 9, 2014
By Steven Wishnia
The signs boded well as the procession descended the staircase into the hotel ballroom: A dozen-odd people, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, city schools chancellor Carmen Fariña, and Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which was holding its annual convention there Dec. 6.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce that we have a brand-new contract,” Logan proclaimed when he reached the podium, getting a standing ovation.
The mayor got a roaring ovation when he said the nine-year deal will give “the same benefits as other employees under the pattern,” and “this includes CSA members promoted to supervisors since 2009.”
The deal, effective through 2019, will give the CSA’s 6,000-odd members raises averaging 2% a year, retroactive to 2010, when their last contract expired. It also gives the union its key demand: that teachers promoted to principal since 2009 will receive retroactive pay for the time they were still teachers, getting the raises provided in the contract the city and the United Federation of Teachers signed earlier this year. In an issue the CSA brought up late in the negotiations, members promoted to Department of Education administrative positions since 2010 will also get retroactive pay for the time they were still principals.
“We’re happy,” said Mary Anne Haarhaus, an assistant principal in Queens—partly just to have a contract and partly because it includes those raises for recently promoted teachers like her.
“It’s a moral issue for us,” Logan emphasizes. “You work, you are entitled to what is owed you. People should have gotten the money they earned from where they were before.”
With that out of the way, the event became a lovefest, with de Blasio praising the principals for their commitment to improving education, Logan praising the mayor as a public-school parent who truly respects educators, and both praising Fariña, coupled with digs at the Bloomberg administration’s educational policies. “I know you aren’t used to having a chancellor who’s an actual educator,” de Blasio told the crowd.
The Department of Education will also review all its open investigations of supervisors and drop the ones deemed frivolous, Logan said. It will abandon them “if they’re not something where you’re a child molester and should be gone anyway,” and not pursue cases where someone said “we saw Mr. So-and-so leave the building at ten to three.”
In this, he admonished, Chancellor Fariña is “going on faith—let’s not prove her wrong.”
“After 12 years of charter schools and micromanagement, we now have a chancellor who knows schools. So folks, you gotta produce,” Logan concluded. “The whole world is watching New York City. If we mess this up, public education goes down the drain. The vultures are waiting.”
With a powerful lobby looking to privatize education, Logan explained afterwards, principals need to show they can improve schools. “We have to hold our own. We’re the only ones who know how to educate children,” he said. “This is a union of highly educated professionals. You chose to do the work. You have to step up and do the work.”