Teacher Contract Finally Passes


Teachers at Banneker posed for a picture wearing red in support of the W2 contract.

Have you ever wondered why all your favorite teachers were wearing red shirts in the fall? Red shirts allow us to easily identify the teacher’s union.

For the past four years, DCPS teachers have been working without a contract. And during those past four years, which included the coronavirus pandemic, four out of five D.C. teachers have been unhappy with their jobs, according to a Washington Teachers’ Union survey of its members.

“Red is traditionally associated with workers’ movements,” said history teacher and union member Jessica Tyson.

Teachers have been recently unhappy with their jobs because there has been an increased workload. Teacher turnover is their primary concern. A July 2021 report by the State Board of Education shows an annual teacher attrition rate of about 25 percent for six years in DCPS and charter schools — higher than the pre-pandemic national average of 16 percent.

Teachers quitting their jobs is caused by several factors. Teachers have been left without raises since 2019, class sizes are too big, and teachers need more planning time, according to local news reports.

Although teachers now have a contract, which was passed at the end of 2022, their concerns remain.Dr. Sara Arndt, an English teacher at Banneker and the school’s union representative, said she believes that teachers are not being compensated for the amount of work they do.”During the pandemic there was a lot of respect and admiration for teachers because parents realized how much work we go through, but I think that narrative shifted because of all that is being put on teachers’ plates,” said Dr. Arndt, whose position as union representative is elected by all of the teachers. “Things keep being added to our plate and nothing is being taken away, and that is why our nation is going to face a teacher shortage.”

Teachers say that the contract consists of many improvements to their lives. There are salary increases, including for the past few years to make up for a lack of increases; and retention bonuses, which are a one-time bonus for teachers who choose to stay with DCPS. The contract also contains the assurance that some meetings will not be held in the morning.

Whitney Warren, an English teacher at Banneker, has twins who plan to attend college. With this contract she can pay for both of them to attend college, which will take away the unnecessary stress that most parents feel during an already hectic transition from high school to college.This contract will end at the end of July of 2023. In the next six months to a year, contract negotiations will need to resume.

English teacher Clare Berke said she believes that discussions will be slow.Justin Zimmerman, a physics teacher at Banneker, claims that there’s power in numbers, so if all the teachers are wearing red at every school that means they all have a shared vision for what they want.And Banneker students can also wear red in support!