Thursday, August 11, 2011

Updates

One, don't forget that LEV is having a live on-line chat today at noon about charter schools. 

Two, the BEX Oversight Committee meeting tomorrow morning has been moved to Chief Sealth High School (likely because they will be doing a Denny walk-thru) at 8:30 am.

Three, I'll be doing a thread on the Executive Committee meeting yesterday but there was mention of the furlough day for SPS staff coming up on August 31st.  Here's the letter that was sent out:

"On that day [August 31], all SEA and PASS represented staff as well as all non-represented staff will be furloughed and prohibited from working.   I need to stress this IS NOT OPTIONAL. 
 
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act states that if you are a non-exempt employee (which is how all employees are defined during a furlough week regardless of position), you must be compensated for ALL hours worked during that week. Having to compensate someone for working on a furlough day runs counter to the reason that the District is implementing furlough. 
 
As a result, ANY employee who works on a furlough day may be subject to disciplinary action. This includes working from home, going in on your own time, emailing,making phone calls, etc. We appreciate that everyone is gearing up for the start of the school year, and we know that many of you are asking to voluntarily work that day. 
 
Again, because we would be federally mandated to pay you, working on a furlough day is considered insubordination."
 
This was explained at the meeting but I thought it was only about not showing up at your job site.  I'm not sure how the feds would know if you were working at home but apparently, it's quite serious.  
 
The furlough only applies to employees represented by SEA and PASS as well as all non-represented staff.  This is kind of interesting because it leaves out some of the other represented employee groups.  Will they be locked out of the buildings?  I'm not sure how that will work.
The district's press release explains that the furloughs will occur in both this school year and next year as well.   From the press release:

Non-represented staff will be taking either two or four days of furlough – depending on their employment level – including the August 31 date.

47 comments:

Eric M said...

How laughable, that teachers wouldn't be working on their own time. I WILL be working on that day, not just because I work on my classes almost every day. I also like the idea of getting thrown in the dungeon (by who? Susan Enfield? Olga Addae? Arne Duncan?) just for working.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the reason why this kind of furlough day is ridiculous. You're not allowed to work, but the work still has to get done. It's a fictional furlough that's really a paycut.

I've heard the arguments that it's better for future negotiations to have furloughs instead of paycuts. But that presumes that we'll actually start having budgets that make sense some day.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me, zb

Anonymous said...

Here's how it works. Teachers are prohibited from working on a furlough day. The scheduled furlough day is one week before school starts. Teachers will work that day anyway, whether they work from home, McStarbucks, or if they happen to have a key to let themselves into their building. Working on a furlough day is insubordination. What are the disciplinary actions for insubordination? Who is in charge of passing out this discipline? ZB is right - it is just a pay cut, because the work needs to, and will be done anyway.

Oompah

Michael H said...

"I'm not sure how the feds would know if you were working at home but apparently, it's quite serious."

It's not an issue of "the feds" (or Arne Duncan, personally) knowing, it's an issue of federal law requiring the District (the employer) to pay for hours worked. The District is most likely trying to forestall any later claims about having worked on that day when they directed their emplolyees (as employers have the right to do) not to work because they will not be paid.

In the private sector the discipline for insubordination is up to and including termination. And that should happen here if anyone outright defies the requirement. It's obvious that people are going to work from home if they want to on that day - they just won't tell anyone (unless of course you use their email network - then they will know). Just don't go claiming any pay for that day and nothing will happen.

mirmac1 said...

I second Michael H. We love our dedicated teachers, that's why we don't want to give anybody any BS reason to reprimand them or drum them out. It's not worth it on this one. There'll be plenty other reasons to be insubordinate. Save it for that.

emeraldkity said...

I agree with the other posters. After listening to teachers from other districts in other states who have seen their prep time cut, it is definitely not the case that the work is not going to get done- the prep work HAS to be done & to think otherwise is to be naive/ignorant that a professional is not going to do what it takes to do their job.

But it is sure not going to help the teacher feel good about the upcoming school year, knowing that right off the bat they are going to be working without getting paid.

Dorothy Neville said...

It also means that everyone is considered an hourly employee for the week of the furlough, so no working more than 8 hours on any other day of that week. Again, it is insubordination to work more.

Anonymous said...

Based on information I received at the SEA meeting on Tues., my understanding is that the state law regarding furloughs calls for the district to receive hefty fines if workers work on a furlough day, hence these requirements.

Also, the 8/31 furlough day was to be a full day of district directed professional development on the new PG&E rubric (i.e. the teacher evaluation framework), so it would not have been available for teacher prep time, alas. We still need good information about the new evaluation though and I don't know how we will get it. Creating an online training was mentioned - Unpaid of course.

Teacher/Parent

Anonymous said...

Regarding Melissa's comment about this "leaving out" other represented groups, they are only not mentioned because those groups did not agree to the furloughs, and would therefore be working that day. The furlough only impacts those employees who are either non-represented, or are represented through SEA (certified and classified) and PASS.

CommentsInPassing

Po3 said...

LEV has a poll up now. Lot's of support for charters!

mirmac1 said...

Oh Gawd! Here are the LEV poll questions:

1 Would you support allowing 3,000 students who are currently attending the lowest performing schools in Washington to transition into potentially high-performing public schools?

Yes
No


2 Would you support allowing 10 principals in 10 public schools to really be the boss, to allow the principals and the teachers to decide the learning and work rules for the building?

Yes
No


3 Would you support charter schools?


Yes
No
I need more information to decide


You'd have to be an witch to say no to the first two. "And I want to take candy away from babies, too! Bwaa haa haa!"

mirmac1 said...

You can answer with only a comment. I told them what I thought about *&@$ surveys.

KG said...

No way to the furlough!!!! I will be working as I will not copitulate with Duggan Harman and his 20K per year hardship increase.

Where is his sacrifice?

No Way!!!! SEA must agree that central admin. is honest and doing a good job and not spending to much on itself.

What else could it be?

Please let me know.

Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

RosieReader said...

I know it's not fair, but I think it's probably true that teachers are probably held to a higher standard than other commenters on this blog. If their math is wrong or their english grammar or spelling stinks, nay-sayers will question how they can they possibly teach our children effectively. What might be dismissed as "sloppy fingers" or typos for us plebes puts folks on higher alert when it's an educator.

Just sayin.'

Anonymous said...

"Professional development on the new PG&E rubric"

Pacific Gas & Electric? I'm guessing not, since even my wildest imagination can't make a connection between a CA utility & teaching in Seattle.

(zb)

Anonymous said...

RosieReader, I was thinking the very same thing!

--Lurker

That Passionate Teacher said...

FYI,

In SPS, PG&E = Professional Growth and Evaluation

Anonymous said...

Took the LEV poll and let loose on crappy/leading poll questions and the need for them to truly educate themselves (with peer-reviewed research, not ideologically baed white papers masquerading as research) on charters. So far the no on charters is leading, but not by much.

-CT

Anonymous said...

On the furlough day, I will not use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, or compute accurately. I'll teach them to hold me to the standard of perfection without getting paid for it!
- no pay, no play

Anonymous said...

I will be enjoying another day with my family on the furlough day and happy to do it. I know the alternative to a furlough is another round of cuts to maintenance, tech support, counselors, special ed staff, interpreters, and supply budgets. I can't do a good job teaching if all the support staff disappear. I am thrilled to give up a useless day on PG and E ( yawn) if I can keep the tech guy working full-time. Frederica Merrell, math teacher who needs support staff to a good job being a teacher

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in SPS, I feel I must make a couple comments about the teacher prep days for the beginning of the school year. We start with the furlough day where we are NOT allowed to work for fear of being insubordinate (Wednesday), then we work one paid day (Thursday) where we will be required sit in meetings all day. As an aside, what do you think teachers are thinking about as we sit in this day of meetings? That's right, getting our classrooms ready! What a violation of teaching 101. We will be a very disinterested audience on Thursday.

Then we may (I think we have permission) work WITHOUT PAY on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday (yes, Labor Day) to get our classrooms ready. Tuesday will be our one and only paid day to get our classrooms ready for kids on Wednesday. Frankly, none of us can leave all the work for one day so we will work many unpaid hours/days for a smooth start to our school year.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job. But I am sick of our state budget being "balanced" on the backs of teachers.

SPS teacher and parent

Eric M said...

What a fine day this would be for a protest action.

Anonymous said...

State workers got a pay cut. Lots and lots of Americans and Washington residents got a pay cut. Many others have no job at all. The real issue here is a teacher pay cut, which is what we should be doing at this point. This is, in fact, what the furlough is. Unions won't go for it, or admit it. So, let's get over it. The budget isn't being balanced on the backs of one group, it's being balanced on the backs of everyone. The alternative would be a class size increase.

-reader

Jamie said...

So the parent orientation for incoming Freshman parents at Ballard HS is supposed to be the evening of 8/31. I can't find any info that they might change the date. Anyone know anything?

Anonymous said...

No doubt if you look at majority of states out there, the budget is being balanced on education and social services. For our state, they composed a big chunk of our budget to begin with. As for teacher furlough, it would be better to see more cuts in central admin budget FIRST. I would take one less director, one less vice prinicipal, one less consultant, one less academic coach, etc. You need to shave downtown to a toothpick before yelling poor house.

-another reader and voter

That Passionate Teacher said...

If you go back and read: "The federal Fair Labor Standards Act states that if you are a non-exempt employee (which is how all employees are defined during a furlough week regardless of position), you must be compensated for ALL hours worked during that week."

This means, if you work on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, the district must pay you for those hours. You CANNOT work them unpaid!

I'm not sure if the district has realized it yet, but the law has turned Friday, Saturday, and Sunday into de-facto furlough days as well. Ditto for "working early" on the Monday or Tuesday....

By placing the furlough day on Aug. 31, the Seattle Public Schools has just made it impossible for their teachers to get their classrooms ready.

I wonder if someone should bring that to their attention?

Anonymous said...

In response to "reader:"

First, my kids have had good and bad teachers so I get that not all teachers are excellent. I understand that colleges of ed need to do a better job training teachers. I also know that state workers took a cut, Americans are out of work etc.

But teachers, in this country, have been underpaid for decades. Citizens in this state understood this and passed cost of living increases for teachers about 10 years ago. Unfortunately there was no funding source for these increases and it has all been put on hold.

All of this ultimately effects the quality of education our children receive. I realize there is a lot more to improving the quality of education in this country than teacher pay. Teachers are not looking for a handout. We would just like to get paid for the work we will need to do to get our classrooms ready for our students. And of course, teachers will do the work whether we get paid or not. The state and district knows this.

SPS teacher and Parent

Anonymous said...

Well the timing of Aug 31st sucks! It didn't surprised me how bad the timing of the furlough was. Ed directors don't have to prepare classrooms. (I really feel for the new hires.) Did SEA bring up the timing issue at all with the district or was this a one sided decision?

another reader/voter

Anonymous said...

I suppose SPS could always see to the firing all of those insubordinate teachers who work the furlough day (or "make-up" hours during that week) and advocate for replacing them with TFA "corp members".

Oompah

Noam said...

OMG! That "survey" over at LEV about Charters is kinda like the "poll" done by some of Sherry Carr's friends a few weeks ago. Neither would pass muster of any adult analysis. What a stilted joke.

RE: the one about the principal making up the "rules", that makes me recall last September, the Board paid 1-2 million $$ to a former vice-principal at Ballard who was sexually harassed by the (short time) principal there.

Just think, if he had the power, he could just decide that such sexual phone calls and other conduct was OK.

AND, if she did'nt like it, she could work in a real public school where those pesky laws and "rules" make it so hard to teach kids.

Hello Michelle Bachman, welcome to LEV.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are justifiably uninterested in participating in informal online discussions because their is always someone ready to hang you out to dry -

because there is always someone stringing up there hanging post -

because there is always someone itching to use they're hanging tree -

like whatever

Paul said...

And societies don't work well when authority alone gets to make up the rules.

But LEV apparently likes the idea.

Why have a society at all?

Ed said...

Hey Paul:

Hey folks, remember the firstr rule of engagement with the community of wealth (LEV) is that they consistantly believe the rest of us are stupid.

Phoney "polls" notwithstanding, its the same old wealthy people don't want their kids to mix with the rest of us (remember Ellen Roe and her grandchild having to sit next to the child of a poor person?).

Oh yeah, but they want our taxes to pay for little "public" Lakesides where there are no unions and management makes up the rules.

SOS!

Anonymous said...

To be honest, wouldn't mind a "public" version of Lakeside, Evergreen, SASS, etc. No MAPs, smaller class size, well paid staff, real math and science, etc. My beef as our public school becomes more and more obsessed with standardization of everything, private schools start to look better and better if you can AFFORD it! My kids might actually get some learning in.

-Envious PS mom

Anonymous said...

Staff at the private schools are not necessarily "well-paid". My roommate worked at a well-known private school down in Tacoma and I made about 10k more than she did. Many of the staff members were teaching there because they could get reduced tuition for their kids, or because their income was a second income that wasn't as necessary to live on. She stayed for a few years, then moved to public after she had some issues with the headmaster and also needed to make some headway on paying back student loans.

-CT

Dorothy Neville said...

The LEV thing did answer a question I had about charters and funding. The local levy money will not go to charters. But we get a significant amount of money from local levy. We could not afford a 6th period in high school without the levy.

So why are people interested in bringing charters to Washington when it simply does not seem lucrative for them? How are they going to be funded? Would the state give them compensatory funding, like levy equalization? Or what? Enough private foundations want to bestow money on charter schools? The feds?

seattle citizen said...

Wow, LEV even has a whole section set up on charters, is this new? Hadn't noticed it before...

Dorothy,
My suspicion as to why people want to bring charters to Washington is that this move would allow Reformers to further whittle away at the structure of the public schools. "Reform" exists merely to privatize public schools, break the unions, and create a systematized, standardized, digitized form of "education" for the masses, an "education lite" for the ghettoes. This is why we see so much investment by Reformers (businesses, business roundtables, etc) in charters around the country.
Business (and their foundations) can't, of course, or won't, pay for the billions and billions it would cost to support Harlem Zone-type schools EVERYWHERE. In my cynical view, charters (or at least the Reform charters) exist mainly to pave the way for breaking up public education into saleable pieces, to purportedly "show" the public who crappy public schools (supposedly) are, and to open the doors to the privatizers.

There might not be money to be made in "the Soviet of Washington" State, but heck, Gates and Broad and Walton and Boeing will fund some anyway, as a losing proposition, merely to present a media show to convince the public over time that public school teachers are not "quality" and those free market teachers (TFA, for instance) are "all about the kids."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Envious, charter schools would have to take the state test (private doesn't). That said, I doubt a charter would have to take the MAP but it would depend on the charter law.

Another anonymous said...

No student "has" to take the MAP or MSP, you can opt-out. It's the class time spent on test prep that seems unavoidable.

Of course, thanks to the test prep, my child learned about mountain effects on rainfall (which we read about at home after questions arose from the in-class science test-prep).

Can charter school students opt-out of standardized tests?

Anonymous said...

The fact that I admit to desiring "private" version of a public school comes from too much frustration. I don't support charter (an expensive distraction). It is a similar frustration as I watch our political gridlock between 2 ideologies (no taxes vs. safeguarding our safety nets/military). In this economy, we need taxes and cuts to untouchable programs -social and military. We need a stimulus. It is the same with our school. I think we need to do some reforming of our schools, but not go to one size fits all and have teachers eval based on some standardized tests OR the distractions of TFA, on-line learning debates be the topic de jour.

I see basic fundamentals that this district should be working on and yet the district gets sidetracked again and again. With every new Super, directors, principals, there's a new set of trendy ideas, initiatives and lots of talk, but little follow through to see if things being done work or harm in the classroom (in part because good or bad leaders don't stick around long enough to find out). I see a TFA analogy in the way the district putting in new administrators with very little experience/training to oversee school(s). This causes rippling effect down to the students. I see it now with newly hired principals who are short on teaching/administrative/personnel management experience embracing MAP/MSP tests as an easy mean to eval staff. I see it in the standardized curriculum being taught and the pacing teachers are required to adhere to in the classroom. If only we all think, learn, act, and behave the same way. (There is a place for it, and the super is call a warden.) Sigh! As I muddle through school's announcements and educational forum/blogs, I am beginning to feel a loss of academic freedom to teach kids, to engage kids' natural curiosity, to encourage independent thinking and action (and the responsibility that goes with it) . That is a shame.

That's why I am a bit envious of some private schools where they still have a place for it and learning still counts.

Envious PS mom

Paul said...

Hey CT

Did someone say staff at private schools are well paid?

I didn't.

The point I make is what kind of system we foster when we teach kids that the "Headmaster" (Principal in LEV-speak) makes all the rules and underlings are NOT free to particpate.

Nothing to do with pay.

hschinske said...

Did someone say staff at private schools are well paid?

"Envious PS mom" did, upthread a ways. I think private school pay varies a lot -- even within the same school, under different administrations and in different financial climates the compensation and benefits may vary hugely.

At one point Lakeside salaries were, I am told, way down due to not keeping up with inflation, to the point where there were stories of junior faculty qualifying for food stamps. Presumably things aren't nearly as bad as that now. On the other hand, many long-time faculty members in my day got to send their sons to Lakeside for free (not their daughters -- the contracts dated from before the time when Lakeside went coed).

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, charter school students have to take the state standardized test but I don't think they would have to follow the MAP protocol.

Anonymous said...

Yeap, that was me making the "well paid" comment. Taken from a family gathering where some in the clan are teachers (or retired teachers) and they were discussing pay/pay cuts. Our family come from far and wide. Helen is right, pay and working conditions vary widely both in the private and the public sectors.
-envious PS mom

Dust(off) the Union said...

I'd like to throw in my 2 cents on unions. Unions in the private sector are a great thing. They can level the playing field and really help workers and management as well, if management is smart. Public sector unions, like teachers, are a different story. As taxpayers, these employees essentially pay themselves and it creates a conflict of interest. Their employer, the district, is not a profit-driven entity and has no stockholders to answer to, therefore there is little incentive to cut costs except to stay in budget. Face it, we all know there is dead weight in the district, at HQ and in the classroom. With benefits, teachers make good money and they get a pension, something unheard of in the private sector these days. Do teachers need collective bargaining or should they get tenure like college staff after proving themselves? Maybe just civil service protection like regular city workers.
Now before the stories of 16 hour days and weekends spent preparing for and teaching my kids start to roll in, let me say, I know teaching is demanding. I know teachers are generally hard- working, but, seriously, they should be held to the same standard as any other professional, be it a Boeing engineer, architect, doctor, pilot, etc. Perform to a certain measurable level or move on. That measure should be decided by the employer and should be subject to appeal, but there should be way to keep teachers on the job who are good and get those who aren't out the door.

Anonymous said...

Dust off - public sector employees are paid much less than most private sector employees, particularly when you look at education and experience. In return for taking lower paying jobs, the public sector offered things like pensions and more job stability. In this way, the discrepancy between private and public sector employee pay was lessened and allowed the public sector to recruit talented employees who would otherwise never look public sector employment. There are quite a few studies out there on the discrepancy, though right now I cannot find the one I am thinking of.

You think teachers should be treated like any other engineer, etc.? Just think - then they might have a salary that matches their education and experience. Myself? I'm topped out at 60K a year in my district and I have a PhD and 14 years in teaching. The most I can hope for is possibly a reinstatement of our COLA sometime in the distant future for a slight boost to my paycheck. Otherwise I'm here at the same salary for the remainder of my teaching career unless I opt to return to the private sector and make about 20K more. But go ahead and float your little dream that public sector employees are overpaid and shouldn't have a pension or be part of a union.

Also, if you think collective bargaining is another thing teachers shouldn't have, think of this: our working conditions are your child's learning conditions. When we bargain in sections on class size, support for SPED students, and even sick leave language, those items
directly affect the classroom environment. If you think administrators or politicians are going to protect those things out of the goodness of their hearts, think again.

Right wing talking points are not based on fact or reality - only ideology.

Done