Temperature Rising between SEA and District (and not because it's summer)

Yet another KUOW report on the contract talks that makes it sound like they are pretty far apart.  There is still plenty of time to iron things out but yes, we are less than a month out from school.

Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp says while there's been progress on smaller issues over the past week, large issues remain unresolved.

For Ballard High School science teacher and building union representative Noam Gundle, those big issues include smaller class sizes, especially for special education students.

I note that what I predicted from the first KUOW report is now confirmed:

District officials insist that bigger classes are a temporary solution to school capacity issues until new classrooms can be built. But the union says there are better alternatives. "Anybody who knows anything about education knows that more teacher attention means better progress for students, more support," Gundle said.

Ah, so the district says the upped class sizes will be temporary?  I'd have to see that in writing with Banda's signature.

Also interesting:

Seattle teachers, meanwhile, need more financial support, Gundle said. They haven’t gotten cost-of-living adjustments in four years.

"Right now, Seattle is in a very non-competitive position with regards to recruiting the best teachers that we can, and keeping them in the district," Gundle said. "Because when we’re treated like second-class citizens, people don’t want to work here. And there’s no reason why they should."

Teachers' unions in nearby districts have recently negotiated raises for their members.

The district says it wants to work in more pay for "excellent" teachers but honestly, no raise in four years seems wrong.  And then for the district to say "be excellent" and then you get a raise also seems wrong.

I hope they get to a middle ground because our district doesn't need a teachers strike.


mirmac1 said…
I seriously doubt the district has evaluated the effectiveness of the $265K they have already paid in "merit" stipends. Shouldn't they do this with any new-fangled idea? Survey, measure, quantify. I could see these payouts used as a means principals can use to reward their loyal favorites.
dan dempsey said…
So where would the middle ground on class size be?

Google: NY TIMES class size and read the article of August 2

Read the full NEA report linked from this blog a few days ago.... fascinating data can be found there.

SPS Leadership over the last decade has been abysmal in the facilities and class size venues.

It seems there are few if any experts who know their stuff making SPS decisions. So how does one become a decision-maker in the SPS? .... Perhaps Peter Maier or Steve Sunquist could tell us why they never questioned staff recommendations in spite of mounds of data to the contrary.
dan dempsey said…
Correction that NY Times article on class size was May 4, 2013
Anonymous said…
Regarding class size - the district already goes over class limits and then pays teachers extra for the additional students. So, changing the limit is effectively a cut in pay for the teachers.
Anonymous said…
This is a disastrous idea. Bad for student learning. Bad for teachers. Solve the facilities problem a different way.

Anonymous said…
DistrictWatcher is absolutely correct. The district made egregious errors in capacity management over the last 5 years and it is unacceptable to lay the burden of those mistakes on students and teachers.

To add insult to injury, the district also wants to add another quantitative measure to teacher's evaluations above and beyond what is required by the state. This puts even more emphasis on MSP scores. So overcrowded schools, overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers but make sure the test scores go up.

Parents need to let the district know that they must find another solution to the capacity problem. Email the school board and tell them class size increases are not the solution.

-dismayed teacher
Anonymous said…
I teach in the district and while I understand that capacity is their issue that I have to deal with I would appreciate a more honest approach. If they need to give more students per classroom there is already a plan for that. Just follow the norm and be thankful we are able to do this in the short term.

However, when they want to add more students and THEN add overload on top of that? Seems quite the cheat. They could point out that overload pay will earn many teachers more money since they aren't going to be professional and put raises or COLA on the table.

Be sure they haven't taken a pay cut or lost their pet initiatives when the cash gets sorted out.
Eric M said…
The pattern during contract negotiations is to publicly announce dire new conditions in August. Those with a memory may remember Goodloe-Johnson's comically harsh "SERVE" proposal - she even made a flyer and sent it to every staff member.

Then, when a tentative contract is revealed for a vote at the very last second (the last SEA contract was unveiled less than 24 hours prior to the scheduled vote), SEA members can be herded into an approval vote. The idea is to instill panic and fear, so that teachers are relieved to vote on a contract that "could be worse".

Getting to keep your job is the new raise.

Meanwhile, teachers got a letter last week saying that health insurance premiums are going to increase by about $150 per month.

Seattle teachers have lost about 15% of their earning power in the last 4 years. Brutal.
Anonymous said…
Can parents strike?

Anonymous said…
I read in an article by a local teacher during the charter school debate this fall that said "teaching conditions are learning conditions." It's the first time I'd heard it phrased that way and have read other articles with similar topics.

It really struck me - having it phrased that way. Because it's right. People criticize the teachers union a lot, but what they are advocating for definitely impacts learning conditions. Smaller (reasonable) class size, fair and appropriate testing/assessment, safety, better curriculum, professional development etc.

All those things - while "teaching conditions" are also "learning conditions" and I for one am grateful to teachers and their union for continuing to advocate for our children in this way.

-sps mom
Charlie Mas said…
Parent, yes. Parents can strike. So can students.

Parents and students can strike by not attending or by refusing to take standardized tests.
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