All eyes were on Newark teachers last week as they voted on a contract that could put the city on the vanguard of the national reform movement. They responded decisively, in a lopsided vote with 62 percent in favor.
The contract provides bonuses to the best teachers while freezing the pay of those who are repeatedly ineffective. With this vote, teachers in Newark have embraced the idea that they should be treated as professionals, willing to be held responsible for results, as in the rest of the working world.
They also took up the offer to have a seat at the table when their evaluations are done, a move that will greatly improve the chances that the results are true and accurate.
The contract breaks the mold in other ways, too. Good teachers will get another bonus if they agree to teach in struggling schools, where they are needed most, or when they teach hard-to-staff subjects.