Bostonians discuss just-avoided teachers strike

Seth Petersen
CBS News

(CBS News) BOSTON - Boston schools opened on schedule this month without a strike, thanks to contract talks in which both sides made compromises.

It's a deal that could offer a lesson to other cities across the country.

Over the last 27 months, English teacher Seth Petersen had felt angry about contract talks between his union and the Boston school district.

"There were attacks in the media that seemed to be dominated by this inflammatory language describing teachers as greedy, describing teachers as lazy or obstructionists," Peterson said.

But now, Petersen, who's taught in the school system for 18 years, praises the new collective bargaining deal struck with the city five days ago.

"This is a win-win situation. The most important winners are the students and the community in Boston," Petersen said.

As teachers in Chicago went on strike last week, Boston's 5,000 public school teachers and 57,000 students started the new academic year on time.

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It's something Mayor Thomas Menino is proud off.

"You know, I heard Mayor Emanuel on TV say, 'Why can't I get a contract like Boston?' We have the opportunity now to say to the bad teachers: 'You're not going to go to that school you want to go to.' The principals have a say in who the teachers will be in that classroom," Menino said.

Under the old system, a principal had to chose from the three most senior teachers available. Now they can pick the best teacher for the job.

Teachers will be evaluated on how their students do in standardized tests, their grade point average, and what the parents have to say about them

There's also a cash incentive: Teachers will get a 12 percent pay raise spread over six years. But if new teachers get an unsatisfactory evaluation, they won't get the pay increase.

For Seth Petersen, the deal has a wider message about compromise.

"Maybe the politicians in this country could take a look at and learn from the collective bargaining process. That it really is stakeholders coming together knowing that they have to hang on to the core things they value but there is going to have to be compromise," Petersen said.

It's the type of compromise which both sides agree will benefit the school children of Boston.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is the co-host of "CBS This Morning: Saturday." As an award-winning correspondent based in New York, she has reported for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. She joined CBS News in 2004.