BOSTON — Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union have reached a tentative agreement on a contract that would implement a system of special education and inclusion in Boston schools.
“For too long in Boston, students with disabilities and their families have faced a system that neither recognizes nor provides what every child deserves,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in response to the agreement.
Ain May found that many students were underserved in the school district. The school district has reached a with the State Department of Secondary and Elementary Education to improve Boston schools.
“It’s a new day for Boston,” said Jeri Robinson, chairman of the Boston school board. “It’s a long time coming. Dealing with DESE and the threat of receivership has made this a very serious thing about the quality of education that Boston kids have long deserved.”
The contract includes a plan to overhaul special education in the district with reduced class sizes and increased collaboration between general and special education teachers. and funding more positions and supports needed to create inclusive classrooms. One of the key elements of the agreement is funding for an inclusive education liaison position to implement the plan.
“As educators, the needs of our students are our number one priority, and this agreement lays the foundation for achieving what we call ‘inclusion done right’ for the benefit of all Boston Public School students.” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “We believe that when fully supported and staffed, all students benefit from inclusive and equitable classrooms.”
Outgoing Superintendent Dr Brenda Cassellius said the agreement “represents a significant step forward in our work to ensure students with disabilities are served in the least restrictive learning environments”.
The agreement also includes ensuring that students have the necessary academic support, additional staff training on inclusion policies and practices, time for collaborative planning, and transparency in the work of the facilities. School staff will also benefit from parental leave and an annual salary increase of 2.5% over the next three years.
“This contract provides full access to a continuum of services in our schools that will meet their individualized and special needs and improve their academic and social-emotional outcomes,” Acting Superintendent Drew Echelson said.
The Boston school committee will vote on the deal once the contract has been ratified by BTU. The first day of school is September 8.