Teacher leftovers story sends wrong message

Description does professionals a disservice

While we appreciate coverage on our efforts to ensure great teachers in every classroom, we worry that Bruce Mohl’s recent article, “Teacher Leftovers,” sends the wrong message.

The Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union share the goal of ensuring every child has a great teacher in every classroom. This year, the district extended hiring flexibilities to many more schools with the caveat that school leaders evaluate and consider current BPS teachers for open positions.

The Boston Teachers Union and BPS are working hard to ensure every permanent teacher is fully supported, properly considered for these positions, and is well positioned for success. We are putting systems in place to attract a diverse team of talented educators from outside of BPS, while at the same time our strategy is to retain and further develop the great teachers who are already in our schools.

As Mohl reported, there will be some current teachers who are not selected for new positions next year. The process is still ongoing and many more will earn positions. We will work with those who do not find suitable positions. Our goal is to place great teachers in every classroom.

Your article correctly stated that there will be no “rubber room.” Instead, we will connect these educators with professional development opportunities, support them with ongoing performance evaluation, and, in some cases, pair some of them with experienced teachers so they have the opportunity to learn from the very best. We want to put our teachers in a position to succeed. They are not “leftovers,” as your headline suggests, and this description does these professionals and our students a disservice.

Most of our experienced, permanent teachers were placed in this hiring pool (a process called “excessing”) due to circumstances outside of their control. The reasons for these teachers’ excessing are due to budget challenges, programmatic changes, student enrollment forecasts, and also school turnaround policies. Many of these teachers have themselves returned from leaves, such as maternity, and this hiring pool is the primary mechanism through which they find positions. These are talented, passionate men and women — exactly the people we need in our classrooms.

We believe that permanent teachers currently without positions will demonstrate their effective teaching practices through the interview process. Because of this, we require school leaders to interview at least three excessed teachers who have applied to their positions. Just last week, the BPS denied two schools’ recommendations for offers because the schools did not consider enough permanent teachers. Once they did, these principals each decided a current permanent teacher was, in fact, the best fit.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

Richard Stutman

President, Boston Teachers Union
This is the first year the district has extended these hiring autonomies to the vast majority of our schools. Not only is it necessary that we get it right as a district, but it’s important that the public understand that every teacher has the potential to be great – even those who are not selected this spring – and the BPS and the BTU are committed to supporting them and working with them in the year ahead.

John McDonough is the interim superintendent of the Boston Public Schools and Richard Stutman is the president of the Boston Teachers Union.