Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Odds and Ends

Good wrap-up of the current teacher contract negotiations by Josh Feit over at Publicola.   I got a little more clarity on the issue of elementary school teachers and the added unpaid half-hour of work.

Calling one sticking point "a longer day for less pay," Knapp said teachers objected to a district proposal to contractually increase the length of the school day for elementary school teachers from seven hours to seven-and-a-half hours without increasing pay, while simultaneously eliminating the weekly hour that's set aside for teacher planning and collaboration.

The weekly planning hour is paid time, and eliminating it works out to an average 2.6 percent pay cut. Adding the daily half hour in its place is supposed to supplement teacher planning time, but in essence, it's mandating extra time without extra pay, replacing a paid hour per week with an unpaid two-and-a-half hours per week.


Knapp says the micro-managey proposal "is disrespectful" to teachers who are already working long hours and weekends, integrating their daily prep and planning into their schedules anyway. What's worse, the union says, is that the extra half hour isn't going to kids. "If they're going to add a half hour back," Knapp says, "add it to the curriculum for kids. Our real concern about this proposal is that there's nothing in it for kids."

Seattle Schools spokeswoman Teresa Wippel says in order to meet teachers' requests for more collaborative planning time, the District initially tried to get a waiver from the state for three full paid days of professional development; the state rejected the plan. Their solution, Wippel says, was to add the extra half hour at the end of the day, when teachers would all be there at the same time, so they could collaborate on planning. As for the dock in pay, she says, "Yes, and that's why we're offering them a two percent salary increase. We value our teachers."

Okay, so the district wants to take away the weekly hour for planning and replace it with an extra half-hour every day.  The weekly hour was paid but the half-hour (which for five days a week is 2 1/2 hours) is not.   So it works out to a net loss of money to those teachers of 2.6% but the district would give all teachers 2% raises which would leave the elementary teachers with a net loss of .6%. 

As well, I'm confused about what the half-hour is for.  One time it was said to be for teacher collaboration and now it's for professional development.  Who decides?

The AP is reporting that the legislative committee charged with delivering a progress report on fulfilling the McCleary decision for fully-funding our schools has approved a draft of the report.  

Did you know UW has a Center for Philosophy for Children?  I didn't until I received the UW's Front Porch newsletter. 

University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children is dedicated to introducing philosophy to K-12 students by using children’s books and activities to inspire exploration of life’s essential questions. Philosophy encourages young people to trust their own questions and ideas about the world, empowering them to think for themselves about the meaning of their experiences.

The Center's mission is introducing philosophy to young people empowers them to explore the connections between who they are and want to become, their school experiences, and their everyday lives. Engaging in philosophical exploration encourages young people to think abstractly and deeply about themselves and their experiences, and helps them develop confidence in their own ideas and questions, as well as strong critical and creative thinking skills.

The Center’s “Philosophers in the Schools” program educates university students about ways to introduce philosophy in K-12 classrooms, and then sends these students into schools around Seattle, at no charge to the schools, to conduct philosophy sessions. The Center also runs workshops for teachers, parents and other interested adults about ways to facilitate philosophy discussions with young people.

New from them:

The first philosopher in residence starts at John Muir Elementary this fall.

The Center has been working closely with teachers and staff there to bring philosophy into most of the school’s classrooms over the past three years: philosophy has been introduced into every grade level at the school, Center staff have facilitated a monthly philosophy professional learning community for teachers and staff for the last two years, and many John Muir teachers have now attended one of the Center’s summer workshops.

First Washington State High School Ethics Bowl to be held on Saturday, February 8, 2014!

15 comments:

ben said...

What does everyone think the possibility of a strike is?

Anonymous said...

If the proposed contract produces a 2.6% pay cut by eliminating the paid hour, and is offset by a 2% pay increase...isn't that a net .6% pay cut?

-StepJ

Patrick said...

As best I recall from my child's elementary school years, the teachers were generally working for at least a couple of hours after class was dismissed. Maybe the District thinks the teachers are hourly, but they act like salaried.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Duh, that's right Step J. Got a little ahead of myself.

As I said previously, I do not think either side has the stomach for a strike. This will get settled or I believe the teachers will vote to continue on without a contract/same contract until successful negotiations occur at a later time.

Teachermom said...

This is how it works-when the district wants teachers to keep working extra hours for free, we are "salaried professionals". When they want to micromanage our time or nickel and dime us or hire TFA, we are unprofessional hourly employees.
-Teachermom

RosieReader said...

Still don't understand why SEA would think it makes sense to strike over an issue that would require the elementary teachers to work the same schedule that middle and high school teachers already work. They're all under the same salary scale. The SEA is saying (to me) that elementary educators are more important and should get paid more for working the same amount of time that middle school and high school teachers work. That just doesn't sound right to me.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the 2% each year for the next two years, for a total of 4%, and then they're also giving back the 1.3% cut before, so the net in two years is 5.3% increase, on top of the standard yearly step increases? I know it's not huge but it should be looked at as apples to apples.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Just to try and figure it out for myself....

An elementary teacher earns 40k annually. Deduct 2.6% for the loss of paid pd each week for $38,960. Apply a 2% increase (on the $40k?), which is $800. $800 + $38,960 = $39,760 for the first year of the contract.

In the second year apply the 2% increase to reach an annual salary of $40,555.20

With rounding that would be an increase over the original 40K salary of 1.4%.

There have not been any step/COLA increases in the past four years if I understand correctly.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Can add the 2.6% back in as the district dropped that. What is weird to me why only 1,800 out of 5,000 members voted? This is contract, not voting for union reps. That's a biggie.

Parent

Anonymous said...

No Rosie. Elementary teachers don't get the same money has secondary teachers. They took a cut back in the 70's along with reduced hours. Now the district is restoring the hours, but not the pay.

-DustyReader

Anonymous said...

Good. Happy to read the proposed decrease in salary has been pulled!

-StepJ

Teachermom said...

@Rosie-

If the extra half hour w/out students is written into the contract, instead of voluntarily using it for planning and teacher-directed collaboration based on actual real-time student needs, we can be required to sit and be talked at about the Danielson framework ad nauseum or other useful things like that.

RosieReader said...

Well I don't know what the Danielson framework is Teachermom, but I sure as heck don't want anyone wasting their time! :) Especially overworked and underpaid teachers. And if elementary teachers do get less pay, then my point is completely moot. My husband (a bargaining unit member) told me the salary scales are the same, but he's certainly been wrong before.

mirmac1 said...

While legal compliance and positive behavioral supports training is "optional", I see teachers are provided training (ad infinitum) on PG&E, "Danielson Framework" (and now Common Core). Even though neglect of the former has placed SPS in jeopardy with respect to Federal funding. Oh well, guess those $Ms aren't very important...

Meanwhile the district has placed a minimally-experienced, near-washout, ex-principal in charge of professional development. An inauspicious start...

Charlie Mas said...

I think the additional half hour each day is part of what is needed to implement MTSS, which requires teachers to do more collaboration and data analysis than the typical practice.