I've been hearing from different people (and keeping my ear to the ground) and it seems that the vote tonight on the tentative contract - at Benaroya Hall at 5 p.m. - may be closer than previously thought. There was very nearly a tie in the last school rep vote.
This is worrying because even if the contract is approved, having a large number of the teaching corps coming into class feeling defeated/unhappy, is not a good way to start the school year.
Why? It would seem to be a combination of issues.
1) some grassroots pushback on the terms of the contract (and confusion over different points)
2) a general feeling of unhappiness about SEA leadership
3) a feeling that what is in the contract is not being adequately explained to either teachers or supporters (i.e. parents/community)
- evaluation - the complaint is that they will have to be evaluated in two ways. One via a state evaluation system and then a second district evaluation. They complain that no other teachers in the state will have to do this. My understanding is that this is because the teachers agreed to a specific SPS evaluation and now, because of changes in the law, would have to agree to the state one. In some ways, despite their discomfort, it almost seems their hands are tied.
Measuring student growth based on standardized tests seems a tricky thing. You'd have to see how the ENTIRE evaluation lines up.
You could see the problems down the road if a teacher passes one and not the other. And, is one evaluation more fair, more solid than the other?
- I think the union may have won a point with the district backing off adding more time to elementary teachers' days (but not in the classroom) but it would have been great if that time HAD been added but only to restore the time lost from art, music and PE.
- looks like the caseload issue for ESAs is also mushy. The SEA can work on lower caseloads but it doesn't sound like there's any firm number for how many each ESA has.
- Compensation - boy is this a hot potato. Sherry Carr said recently that Seattle teachers were the best paid in the state. Over at the Washington Policy Center, they have some very high number for the average salary (but I think they included benefits to inflate the actual salary) and, according to the SEA, Seattle is 4th in compensation in the Puget Sound region and 8th statewide.
I can only say here that the teachers haven't had a COLA in over five years and has their workload increased? It has.