The Morning Report
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So I might have gone a little overboard reporting my story on teachers union negotiations. Here’s a few details that got left on the cutting room floor:
- How long is this round of negotiations? It’s a heck of a lot longer than other negotiations:
“The last contract I negotiated in San Diego Unified, we set up two weeks back to back where both teams went in five days a week, all day long, and we did it,” said Deberie Gomez, who served as personnel chief under former Superintendent Alan Bersin. She was contracted to help with negotiations last year and later left; Gomez declined to say why she was no longer at the bargaining table. “They’re having a lot of difficulty coming to any agreement,” she concluded.
- Other places with “maintenance of standards” clauses in teacher contracts include Ithaca, New York, Juneau, Alaska and Pomeroy-Palmer Community School in Iowa. Closer to home, the California Teachers Association says that both Coronado and San Dieguito Union High School District have them. The wording differs somewhat from school district to school district.
- Research associate Julie Zoellin Cramer from the Center for Education Policy and Law at the University of San Diego had a really interesting take on it that I couldn’t fit in. She e-mailed me:
There is nothing inherently evil about a maintenance of standards. In its most basic form it ensures that such negotiated items as wages, hours of work, and overtime are maintained at the highest standard over the life of the contract or, for example, changes in job descriptions that require additional licensing are first discussed with the teachers union. Like most things, however, the devil is in the details. The difficult work before the school district and the union is sorting out those details while at the same time aligning with what should be a common core purpose… the highest quality of public education for the children of San Diego.
And she added:
It is ironic that such an innocuous phrase as “maintenance of standards” could create such fear. The biggest fear is that a poorly constructed maintenance of standard might hamper innovation efforts led by the school district administration. But this starts with a false assumption that change only occurs at the district level and that other stakeholders in the system, the teachers and the teachers union, neither want the change nor are capable of generating and participating in it.
- School board member Richard Barrera said that while figuring out how to balance new duties and old ones might seem to be a “common sense” responsibility for principals, “the problem is that common sense hasn’t been followed this year.” He added, “They’re pushing for this out of a sense of desperation. They just don’t have the time that they need to devote to their students.”