As you may recall, on the same day as the Creative Approach MOU was remanded back to the Board by a Superior Court judge, there was an interview in the Seattle Times with Jonathan Knapp, the new head of the SEA. It was quite a nice profile and had some telling bits. Here's Knapp on change in relationships:
"Simply saying 'no' is no longer an option," said Jonathan Knapp, a
shop teacher who crafted the approach as union vice president.
"The climate has changed, and we have to be advocates for public
education in a way that 20 years ago we didn't," Knapp said. "And the
way that we do that is building relationships, not by confronting people
and saying it's our way or the highway."
I agree. Being adversarial is not the way to build relationships and work for better academic outcomes for children. However teacher Robert Murphy fires back:
We've already compromised too much," said Robert Murphy, a Franklin High
math teacher who described Knapp's approach as too weak.
Murphy's anger reflects the passion behind a question dividing teachers
unions here and across the country: How best to respond to a well-funded
national movement demanding greater accountability and other major
changes in public education?
It's not like anyone can say there's isn't some kind of movement that seems bent on blaming teachers for all that is wrong in public education. You don't just get this swell of a wave of articles and attacks where teachers are the problem and testing and assessment are the solutions.
Yesterday, there was a more revealing editorial in support of Knapp which has new info and an odd echo from the article.
To his credit, Knapp is building a relationship with Teachers United,
the progressive group of teachers who've taken on the union's reflexive
opposition to education reform, including charters. The union is also
facing pushback over its support of innovative schools intended to be an
alternative to charters.
First, Rosenthal's article didn't reference any relationship with the so-called Teachers United group so I'm thinking this comes from Lynne Varner talking to Knapp. Knapp should be applauded for wanting to build relationships with district staff so that when tough negotiations happen, they are looking at each as people. And, he should have his door open to all teachers who teach in SPS.
However, Teachers United is a front group and they are working to undermine what real unions do which is to protect their members as they make sure they uphold best practices and accountability. Teachers United is there to push an ed reform agenda and frankly, I'm not sure how that serves teachers. I hope Knapp is very careful in his dealings with them.
The Times says "paranoid suspicions of union-busting" should be ignored - you mean like what happened in Wisconsin? I sometimes think the Times' editorial staff lives in some bubble-world where they think their readers have no idea what is really happening in the rest of the country.
I will also point out that the SEA should push back on charters. The initiative does NOT allow charter teachers to join the SEA. The initiative does NOT allow charter teachers at different schools to band together as a group and form their own union. Under this initiative, the only thing charter teachers can do is create a charter at their own school. Unions power comes from numbers and this inability to create numbers undermines the whole idea.
The second sentence in the editorial about "pushback" on the Creative Approach MOU, hey, Times it's called the law. It's funny because at one point in the editorial they say the union has to follow the law for teacher-evaluation and yet they don't want to recognize that the CA MOU failed precisely because it didn't follow the law.
The CA MOU can easily go forward if that's what the Board and the SEA want (I leave district staff out because again, this is a Board job).