Bad Teachers (Part III)

And so it is.

SB 1108 and SB 1110 have both passed the house and are awaiting the signature of our governor.

Im guessing that barring catastrophic event… like a meteor flattening the Governor’s mansion tonight… “Butch” Otter will be signing those bills without a moment’s pause, since he helped create them and is a co-sponsor.

The vote yesterday on the first bill was 48-22 with nine Republicans joining Idaho’s 13 elected Democrats in voting no.

The vote today was 44-26, with four more Republicans crossing party lines, which is a miracle in itself.

I will attempt to keep my personal bias to a minimum, and I recognize that this will not look the same across the state, but here are the realities of these bills:

 

SB 1108-  “The Labor Relations and Employee Entitlements Bill”

Idaho teachers will no longer have the right to negotiate class size, lesson planning, class schedule and breaks, calendar year, and safety issues.

Everything that has been negotiated in the past, and fought hard for in most cases, will be void on July 1st.

The collective bargaining rights that were not taken away- salary and insurance benefits, can still be imposed by the school board if an agreement isn’t reached. They can also be reduced at any time, the district will no longer have to meet criteria for financial hardship.

Continuing contract “tenured” teachers will have the same job protection as new teachers, meaning all teachers can be terminated or laid off at any point in the school year. Districts would not be required to give a reason for a teacher’s dismissal.  Teacher’s rights to due-process hearings will be limited, and they will no longer have a grievance procedure.

If teachers move out of district, they lose their continued contract status forever.

But, that “continuing contract” will now have to be renegotiated every year anyway, and it will offer little protection to anyone.

 

SB 1110- The Pay-for-Performance Bill

This bill will, in theory, give bonuses to good teachers.

Problem?

It passed unfunded. We can’t pay for it, without either cutting 770 jobs and raising class sizes, or cutting teacher salary across the board by 15%

So, Mr. Luna, you are telling me that I can take a 15% pay cut to possibly get a bonus?  Where do I sign up?? Oh, that’s right, I guess I already did.

A pay cut for me would mean that I was making less than base pay, so I think I can assume I’ll be at base pay again next year one way another. (But, 15% off of that would be about $4500 dollars less, just for comparison.)  If a merit-pay bonus can run anywhere from $2000-$8000 dollars, that could still be good, right?  Not exactly. Our school has fairly high test scores, so we might make that 1st quartile school bonus.  Good. But, I am an elementary school teacher. Additional opportunities for bonus pay come from leadership roles, and taking on ‘hard to fill positions’.  We have very few leadership opportunities, we don’t have lead teachers, and we don’t have hard to fill, specialized positions. That money will go to secondary teachers. So, for most of my coworkers, the “bonus” would be a salary decrease.

None of us are expecting more right now. We understand the financial crisis. But don’t give us less and tell us it’s more. That is only adding insult to injury.

I think I’ve said before, I’m not afraid of being evaluated. I’m not afraid of merit pay… but if it’s not done right, it will not help Idaho children, and it will not bring in quality teachers to this state.

Oh, and again, there’s no money for this plan. But apparently that is an insignificant detail.

 

The supporters of these bills (the third one is still tied-up with the Senate Committee), tell us we are misinformed. They tell the public we are spreading that misinformation, that we are reactionary and selfish. That we just aren’t willing to accept change, and “Put Children First.”

I want to thank each one of the legislators who voted against these bills.

People have called the reform plan LUNAcy, and it’s creator a LUNAtic, and while this may be clever at first glance, it is a misnomer. Tom Luna is not crazy, nor is he stupid. Look at what he just accomplished. He deserves far more credit… as a danger to the future of this state.

 

After school today, nearly 1000 teachers, parents, students, and community members gathered downtown to circle the capitol. I drove with a carful of Nampa teachers to join in this demonstration.

The ‘Day of Action’ had been planned long before the bills passed. When I first heard it was still going to happen, I wondered angrily, “What’s the point?!  It’s. Too. Late. Do they really not get that?!”   Mumbled something about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted…

The explanation was that we needed to show that we were not accepting this, and we were not going away.  We may not have been Wisconsin, ready to close the schools and storm the capitol, but we aren’t giving up until all three bills are signed. The collective voice of our union chose to put our students first, and not do something that would interrupt instructional time.

I’m glad I attended. Too little, too late… perhaps. But sometimes you just need to be reminded that you aren’t alone. Hundreds upon hundreds of people who are feeling equally disregarded, disrespected, disillusioned and disheartened will do that. The mood was not altogether somber, I think because of that recognition of so many others who understood.

As we walked slow circles along the block surrounding the capitol, a small sign appeared in a window several stories up. A plain sheet of copy paper, lettered quickly, WE VOTED NO.

And we thank you.

I believe you did everything you could.

 

 

Emotions ran high today, but not in front of the cameras. Teachers were professional, and composed. It comes with the territory. Even on the worst days, you don’t let ’em see you cry.

 

 

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~ by Lindsey on March 10, 2011.

2 Responses to “Bad Teachers (Part III)”

  1. Wow! I’m so sorry. Wish I knew what else to say. 😦

  2. wow, Linds. i’m glad you’re sharing, but i’m so sorry to hear all this. i’ll be thinking of you.

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