Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SEA Contract Negotiations

The Superintendent put out a rather bland assessment of the issues of the teacher contract negotiations.  I say bland not because the issues he states aren't important - they are - but there is nothing new to see here with a few exceptions.

Nyland states:

- under Equity and the Achievement Gap.
While graduation rates continue to improve across the district, achievement gaps persist for many students; particularly African American males and other students of color. Discipline rates for students of color continue to be disproportionate. The contract negotiation with the SEA provides an opportunity to address some of the areas which pose challenges for our students. We know SEA shares our commitment in this important work.
 Is equity a challenge for students or the district?  It's a challenge for students if the district does not operate in an equitable fashion but it certainly is not the students fault nor under parents' control.

- He talks about the issue of the 24-credit graduation requirement.
This affects student learning time, professional development time for teachers and time for lunch and recess.
Is this an early warning shot for parents who are concerned over lunch/recess times?  Maybe we need a longer school day to work all this in because having more than 15 minutes for lunch and recess isn't really a negotiable fact for parents.  It may be for the union and the district but I don't think it is for parents and students.  

- Under Sped, they don't mention that they are trying to take out Sped IAs from the SEA contract.  That seems odd.

- On test scores
Teachers are not evaluated on student test scores.
 No, test scores are not the major data point in teacher evaluation.  But, yes, they are part of the evaluation.  That was touted by SPS and SEA as an important agreed-to issue in the last contract negotiation and used by the district as an argument for why SPS, alone in Washington State, should get a NCLB waiver.

I note there is no mention of discussion of bell times.  I would think if the district were even contemplating changing bell times, they might have said something here given that it would impact teachers.


Anonymous said...

Why would he underplay the special education proposals which will in effect do away with parental involvement in any meaningful way in developing an IEP. Why bother to have an IEP process at all? And managing IAs centrally presupposes good strong relations with buildings, responsiveness, technical know-how. These strong relations to not exist. And what about the new ACCESS service model which replaces the old Inclusion model. These are staffed according to ratios to give some known predictable framework. Is the District proposing once again to dismantle inclusion? How about some dialogue with communities who will be affected by this? How about some reality checking. Benchmarking?

Sped parent

seattle citizen said...

While yes, it is the responsibility of district (ALL educators) to ensure, or try to, equity for students, some students themselves are challenged due to their own background and difficulty navigating the school environment and systems.
Educators certainly can, and should, try to provide that equity, but some of the challenges come from external factors that ALL people in the community should be addressing and trying to help students navigate.

n said...

Several threads ago I belatedly posted a comment about how teaching has changed as parents have become more involved. It wasn't very well thought out but I posted anyway. A relevant comment was made by one of the panelists that reiterates what I tried to say:

This discussion covers a lot of ground but mainly stays on point about who is coming into teaching and what forces influence that choice. There was an emphasis on better training and selecting well-prepared, well-educated high-achieving candidates.

To listen: http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2015-08-11/teacher-shortages-across-the-u-s/110769/@00:00

To read the transcript: http://thedianerehmshow.org/

From the program: In the American system, we use teachers to warehouse our children while we are at work.

I think the status of teaching as declined a whole lot in my time. In the '70s, 75 percent of American families were headed by people with only a high school degree and when you went to the teacher/parent conference, your job -- and I can remember it was to be approved of by the teacher, not to approve the teacher. Most of us now have some college or other and when we talk to teachers, we're talking down to them more often than not and making demands.

You cannot mandate that a profession be more prestigious.

Pensions tie teachers down to a particular state . . . Pensions came up a couple of times. I believe in pensions and think we should go back to a time when most employees earned pensions. It is true that pension reciprocity would help.

VASQUEZ: So that is a tricky question because it does vary from district to district. In San Francisco, for example -- and it depends on what you're coming in with, so whether you just have a bachelors, whether you have a bachelors plus additional units, plus a masters. So our scale in San Francisco on sort of the beginning end with just a bachelor's degree is about $48,000. And that's without any of the additional stipends that we provide in San Francisco Unified.

Factoring in cost-of-living in SF that's probably minimal. Eastern WA makes equivalent salaries to Seattle teachers but cost-of-living expenses make a big difference.

CARNEVALE: Yeah, in the end when you take those three months or even four months and add the money in, they still don't do very well. In order to make BA wage, even at say the 30th percentile of BAs in America, you need some sort of graduate degree in teaching. That is a master's degree generally. So it is the third lowest-paying college major we have, behind, you know, teaching and preaching are pretty much the things you don't -- that you feel good about and you don't get paid for.

I know - I've been selective. But anybody who thinks we get all that time off is just plain crazy. And truthfully it does depend on the teacher. For those of us who truly do love the art of teaching, we are doing it day and night and weekends as well. Way more hours are put into the art of teaching than most people could possibly imagine.

n said...

One more thing: I'm all for a longer school day. I was comparing schools in several cities this morning and found that generally other districts have a half-hour longer day - six-and-a-half hours. Ours is six. I wish SEA would tackle that one. I know a lot of elementary teachers who would endorse a longer day. We just have too much on our plates. And, yes, I have communicated that to our union leaders. I did find one interesting schedule that conformed to a six-hour day: M,T,Th,F - six-and-a-half hours and on Wednesday, dismissal time was two hours early. That gives teachers a great planning time one day a week. That's our biggest burden - no time to plan. I like that schedule a lot!

Anonymous said...

"No, test scores are not the major data point in teacher evaluation. But, yes, they are part of the evaluation."

Teachers ARE NOT evaluated on student test scores. I am disappointed in our union for not making this clearer. Test scores are used ONLY as a marker for an evaluator to spend more time in a classroom to get a clearer picture. We have a student growth rating, but it is fairly meaningless. It does not effect our overall evaluation - instead signals to an evaluator to see why.

Knowing teacher

Anonymous said...

"touted by SPS and SEA as an important agreed-to issue in the last contract negotiation"

This 'student growth' junk science is just reworded VAM (Value Added Methods) junk science, and is a favorite of the astro turf orgs (SFC, LEV, DFER, PFL, CRPE...) paid by the Gate$ Foundation to blame those in the buildings, and consequently keep the attention off of the people in charge who are making a lot of money while running the system into the ground.

It appears to be supported, dismissed? by 'knowing teacher'. Too bad knowing teacher doesn't appreciate that if some garbage is in the contract, then the garbage can be used against you.

In the spring 2014 SEA election appx. 45% didn't vote. J. Knapp won by less than 50 votes out of over 2400 cast. He is definitely part of the SEA crowd who sound like knowing teacher, or, worse, actually sound like Glen Bafia and his shilling for our ... ha ha ha ... cutting edge contract in 2010. I'm pretty sure at least 1/4 of us SEA members recognize junk science for what it is. I believe the other 45% are so fed up they just can't bring themselves to participate in such a rigged game. But,


Melissa Westbrook said...

Knowing Teacher, I can only say that the district used that part of the contract to ask for the NCLB waiver.

Anonymous said...

Well n, now that you won't have any IAs supporting students with disabilities in your classroom - you'll need an extra half hour - just for that. I can't believe this isn't more of an issue.

Sped Reader

n said...

Sped Reader,
We are already juggling so much what's one more thing. Also, I'm at a school that has seen very few IAs ever. We do have the need for more help but our numbers are such that it doesn't show up on paper. However, we are a school in transition so who knows what's coming. I had only one official sped student (and two others who probably should have been identified) last year and he received no in-class help, a half-hour once a week with the sped teacher, and the rest was up to me. I know one isn't "a lot" but he was constantly needing attention because of his high needs socially and behaviorally.

mirmac1 said...

I'm sure this is not the intention, but I'll just note that exclusion and failure to provide service is against the law and will ultimately COST the district money. Appropriate levels of qualified staff are the duty of the district and school, not the fault of the child.

Anonymous said...

N, Students who "should have been identified for special education but weren't"... should not be happening. And that winds up costing your school, and ensures that you will get teaching head count in the form of special ed teachers and IAs that are assigned with them. Why not get students who need services the help they need? The district used to have an absolute service minimum of 250 minutes per week in any academic area. No kid should receive only 30 minutes a week of service. That's pretty much equal to nothing. If you are providing special education service, then you should be collecting data on that service, as well as, of course, delivering evidence based special education. If you can't do that - then you're obligated to say that at the IEP meeting.

Sped Reader

CTF said...

I'm new to SPS land. Is it unlikely a new contract would not be signed leading to a strike at the beginning of the school year?

Anonymous said...

Near as I can tell - teachers are always afraid to strike. The union is pretty powerless and ineffective. Teachers don't participate much. Last year they went on a 1 day strike, and promised to pay it back at the end of the year. Seemed very wimpy to me. But, it was a great day for bonding and solidarity. Maybe worth it.

Sped Reader