Yesterday, three hundred or so teachers picketed another school board meeting. Much has happened in the last five months. Last month the district and union had another round of mediation. At this round the union made several concessions, attempting to meet the district in the middle. However, the district came back with an offer that was WORSE then their last best offer. Instead of offering a 1% raise for 2004-05, they have changed it to a “one time payment” of 1%. What’s the difference? About $10,000 over the next twenty years. They also want to take health care and add it to the salary – which would increase our salary to one of the highest levels in the county, but no one else does this! So it may look like we are one of the best-paid districts in the county, but the reality will be much different. In fact my district pays one of the lowest amounts per employee for health care and as a result our actual compensation package, when you include health care, is one of the worst. The manipulation of numbers, the moving of funds from one area to another, and a blatant disregard for the people who are actually doing the work is going to kill this district.
Additionally, the district changed a several other elements of the contract in the “best, last, and final offer.” These items were added to this offer because after the non-binding fact finding decision is made, the district can (and probably will) impose their contract.
- Removal of release time for the union president (who currently has three periods of release time)
- Removal of the election process to select department chairs, instead giving the principal the power to appoint people to these positions
- Removal of academic freedom. Any curriculum that may be deemed “controversial” will need to be approved by the principal.
All of these are punitive and show that this battle is not just about money. It is about teachers not being valued. It is about a small group attempting to infusive its values on the public school system. It is about teachers being marginalized or just plain cut from the process. I have a lot more to say about this, especially the third bullet. I am also working on letter to the board members, which I will post when it is done.
Most of the latest information and links to the news articles on the subject, can be found at GEA-Action.Org.
Really I have too much to do to think about this, but how can I not think about this. It is my livelihood. I live and breathe being a teacher. I feel like I what I do is not valued by this board and superintendent.