Monday, April 18, 2011

Open Meeting Notes

I arrived at about 9:30, and discussion was already under way.  These are the notes I took, and I’ll give you fair warning – the following is basically unedited. 

I don’t know who all the speakers were; as such, I will not refer to anyone by name.  Each paragraph indicates a different speaker.

At the end of this post, I’ll add my two cents.

The meeting started with an interesting Round Table Discussion; it was awesome, but I have a hard time saying why in the time I have available right now.


…socialism and capitalism…

We are looking at a job that is limited by earning potential.

There are no limits on this, we’re just going to keep piling this on; this goes on to the claim that there’s nothing there to protect teachers.  He then mentioned Sparta, Plato, the split between idealism and reality.  The reality is “Suffer or lose your job.”  Teachers sacrifice to do their jobs.

We’re not creating widgets here, it’s about helping people to work in their profession.  It’s not a job you go into for pay.  An example brought to us by other teachers: a principal was slow in bringing information to a teacher, and it was only by pointing out the details in the master agreement that the teacher was able to work over the summer to prepare for the following school year.  So that teachers can work extra time…making sure that the teachers can do the things they are wanted and expected to do.

Administrators talk about the teachers’ growth. 

This is the teachers’ room…with all of the meddling and discipline; this is the teachers’ room, let them own the room, but then hold them responsible for the room.  I see protections, we’re going to protect the right for the association to exist…but I don’t see anything about responsibility.  I just see a bunch of articles about “Protect me, protect me, protect me.”  We need to focus on responsibilities, not merely protection.

The increased volume of work that is flowing at teachers, possibly because of technology, made it easier to manage some of the workload…but now we’re clogging that with technology.  He gets email all day, he can’t answer the emails all day.  How do we limit those contacts?  There was a teacher who got in trouble for not responding to a student’s question about homework at 11:30 pm.  We had a conversation about a bottleneck that happened at Doherty.  The District had a debate about whether civics was important; it is important, because at least that way, the kids would have an understanding of what they can do and how to participate in government.  The District got its way and civics was done away with; then years later, the legislature came back and said, “Yes, we must teach civics.”  So now that is being reincorporated, unnecessarily; the teachers all said they wanted to keep civics in the first place.  The scariest thing you can do as an administrator is expect teachers to do less.  Article 10 simply wishes to be a part of the discussion and the decisions about how things must be run.  How do we find a way to help teachers feel that “average pay” is ok, if average results are ok?  I don’t relish the idea of sending my kid into a classroom knowing that “average” is ok.  He has always had an open door policy.  Some teachers have said that Article 10 is preventing me from coming in and talking to you.  When principals say something like “the teacher wishes to remain anonymous,” it is usually a matter of the teacher not understanding the master agreement.

An email from a teacher.  “My energy should go into teaching.  Skate night, pajama night, etc.  We must reduce some of these non-teaching duties.  I cannot stress enough the immeasurable value of LTE and LRT.  The loss of summer school has had a terrible effect on students and teachers as a result.  Teachers know best what fosters learning.”

When he was a kid growing up, he loved to hear tall tales.   His favorite was Paul Bunyan, his work in the Sahara Forest, when he took what was the forest and converted it to a desert.  Lincoln said “If you give me 5 hours to chop down a tree, I’d take four hours to sharpen my axe.”  There’s RTi…he remembers a teachers’ development meeting; in the last 20 years, we have added 19 disorders that teachers are required to identify and address.  Collaboration, discipline issues, talking to parents…all of these trees are popping up everywhere and no time to sharpen our axes.  The tools and the time to sharpen and prepare are all disappearing.  Article 10 provides for some of that sharpening time.  Probably his favorite author of all time is CS Lewis, where he said, ”The task of the modern educator is not to chop down jungles, but to irrigate a desert.”  The needs of kids are many – they are the desert.  Teachers are Paul Bunyan.  Admin is the jungle and the red tape.  Article 10 is the axe.

One thing that has yet to be mentioned is NCLB.  This comment was made by a 30 year tenured teacher; education has changed tremendously.  We have the additional workload, the technology, the assessments, CSAP, there’s so much that teachers have had added to their plates that wasn’t there before.  “Too much time is spent entering data.  There’s not enough time to teach.  45 minutes is not enough time for ACE (?).  An hour a day of plan time…more and more is added to our plates, with not enough time to accomplish all of it.

You’re not alone in this discussion; your concerns are shared across the country.  How do we meet all of these mandates?  “For every complex problem, there’s a simple answer – and it’s wrong.”  Another word is “balance” - finding balance between some of these issues…finding balance in what you need to do.  When we come back we will write down the chart language, and then we will go over interests.

December 8-9th

Grounding process

Check in

LTE – Standard Memorandum of Understanding.

Pay attention to what is best for students.

Construction is very anti-instruction.

More time for adequate planning.

Few if any of the major paragraphs in Article 10 leave any room for judgment; “shall”, “will”, “must have”, “cannot have”.

Increasing technology requirements for classrooms are subverted by mandatory technology use for testing.

Normal work week – is there such a thing?

The exonomic realities of school finance present challenges that need to be addressed.

To be highly qualified to teach is decided by state and federal regulations.

Good decision-making requires collaboration.

Principals are held accountable for their employees, so we do need to know if their backgrounds check out.

Teachers shall be required and allowed to teach.

A teachers primary responsibility and obligation is to teach.

The Master Agreement is simply a clarifying extension of the teacher’s signed contract.

Teacher compensation is based upon a 35.5 hour work week, although we all recognize the job requires much more than that.


Parent/Teacher conferences are to be considered when we discuss the options.

Data Entry requirements are pushing into teachers instruction time.

Teaching Conditions/Assignments is the title of Article 10 – which is which?

Non-student contacts take more time than they have.

Hinders administration responsibility.

Characterize the teachers’ responsibility is a disservice to the profession, which is to expand the student’s horizons.

Collaboration has been mentioned, she would like to see Student Achievement also mentioned.

Burgeoning meeting requirements are becoming unmanageable.

RTi and PBS should be included.

Good teaching should relate to student achievement.

There have been numerous breaches to the policies.

Substantive changes in schedules and staffing patterns need to have collaboration.

Summer school positions need to be deleted since summer school isn’t happening anymore.

Staffing for Spring; FTE assumptions are impacting school decisions.

Teachers exceed the limits indicated in Article 10.

Reference to Mill Levy Override “following that model for the mill levy shall be done.”  Not sure the mill levy requires it, and if it does, it needn’t be mentioned in Article 10.

Results are not discussed; results of the performance are not tied to conditions. These conditions affect performance and teaching, and so should be added to the Master Agreement.

The LTE and the LRT provisions in terms of extra days are currently being discussed during the budget deliberations. 

LRT and Occupational therapists need extra compensation.

CSEA is unaware of how Article 10 blocks or impedes the Administration.

Open House needs to be considered a part of the teachers’ workload – some schools/teachers ask for an early release time because they needed to attend open house the night before.

Results are discussed in the evaluation provision.

Required days need to be considered in A-1 Required Days.

Currently, collaboration does not involve any measure of consensus.

Paragraph 3 on page 38, Teacher’s Duties.  Constraints of meetings, the conduct of teachers at a meeting.  We need to separate duties from professionalism and conduct.  The section’s reference regarding conduct is subordinate to teacher’s freedom of expression.  It is referencing the professional conduct rather than dictating it.

The 7-hour and 6 minute day is one of the lowest days in the state.

Teachers consider Article 10 as D11’s wariness to treat them as professionals.

Expand the definitions of teaching vs. non-teaching responsibilities.

The absence and reporting system says 7:20 to 3:40, which an 8 hour day.

Teachers planning time are used up in school business.

There is no provision for upcoming programs such as TAP, like on page 43, there’s no provision for other staff members and administrators to be a part of the evaluation.

Increases to technology take away teachers’ dedicated planning time.

Article 10 is mostly an input-focused article, as opposed to an outcome-based concept.

Itinerant teachers get grief when it takes them more than 15 minutes to get between buildings.  There seems to be a minimum time guarantee to get from one place to another.  Today, if it takes them longer than 15 minutes, they are within the confines of the agreement. The principal will give the teacher grief, and then it comes to a disciplinary issue, depending on travel conditions. 

District software outages complicate teachers’ abilities for effective planning time.

There’s a difference between being contracted and being salaried.

The duties and restrictions for TAP Master/Mentor for teachers are absent.

Depending on benchmark level, teachers are required to administer student testing 36 times per year.

Teachers may arrange for another teacher to cover a class, as long as the original teacher has cleared it with the teacher.

Article 10 deals with tasks by schools; often administration is tasked with things that should be teaching responsibilities. 

In most industries, contract and salaried employees are synonymous.

Current language does not accommodate alternative scheduling like extended day.  We had Memoranda of Understanding for extended days – do we not have an MOU that applies to extended day as also would apply to summer school? (this situation is specific to Hunt)

Current language does not discuss high school teachers who are teaching additional class.

When we recommend any change, we should at least try to find out the history behind the existing language.

45 minutes planning at the elementary level is not enough.

Parking lot MOUs have not been addressed.

Would it be easier for the district administratively to determine the HR workload? The intent may have been to alleviate HR workload, and now that would come into consideration.  It would be easier to use in-district teachers than out of district.

Article 10 prevents teachers’ time from abuse.

Article 10 protects teachers’ integrity.

Does not protect abuse or integrity, the bottom of page 38 – professional non-teaching duties, “such as but not limited to” an “annualized limit to ____ school days” allows for non-teaching duties.

CSEA did a survey of elementary school teachers; they prefer a 60-minute planning time as opposed to 45 or 90 minutes.

30-minute lunch is being infringed.

B2 provision – equitable distribution is an important proviso; limit.

Elementary school teaching requirements is more than the time than they have in the school day.

B-2 equitable…

The teachers notification of their anticipated program for the following year has been a challenge for some principals, if not most, in budget considerations; the sooner teachers know about next year’s assignment, the sooner they are able to prepare.

Nothing protects teachers from being harassed by other teachers.

No language around data entry requirements.

If we need B-2, then it should be totally re-written.  Equitable distribution of _______.

SB191 could facilitate the entire removal of _____

Teachers harassing teachers is absolutely and entirely the responsibility of the principal.

Teachers do need dedicated uninterrupted time during the school day.

Equitable distribution of scholastic abilities means not putting students with low scores in one class and high scores in the other.

Are we going to assess whether the students understand and have a grasp of the material?

****I left for several hours, and then came back; at this point, the people in the room had split into two groups****

Define reasonable professional judgment.

One speaker thought it was inappropriate for teachers to respond to such questions as “have you ever had premarital sex?”, “have you ever smoked weed?”, “with which political party are you affiliated?” “are you gay?”

Need to acknowledge parental rights that parents can opt out of.

Remove internet filtering; when students are doing research, they are unnecessarily limited.

Suggestions About Article 10 from Group 1:
  1. 1.     Leave it as is
  2. 2.     Replace the word “important” in line 11
  3. 3.     Teacher has the right to state opinion as they are invited, when appropriate, and when elicited
  4. 4.     Allow principal and teacher to determine what is reasonable professional judgment
  5. 5.     Peer councils to decide the controversial issue being discussed
  6. 6.     Parental interest should be accommodated in approving age appropriate materials – this would be a change in board policy

ASuggestions About Article 10 from Group 2:
  1. 1)   Leave as is
  2. 2)   Critical thinking skills
  3. 3)   Modeling those skills
  4. 4)   Brainstorming to explain the guidelines for all teachers
  5. 5)   Teacher states to the students his opinion.
  6. 6)   Include “defer” in the language
  7. 7)   Respectful dialogue
  8. 8)   Eliminate ambiguity
  9. 9)   Remove internet filtering – when the students are doing research, they need to be able to research unimpeded.

Filtering is required by federal law; conditional and age appropriate.

There were very few elementary school teachers at the table; currently it says the student has the right to relevant communications freely available in the community

***Closing Comments from the Round Table***

It took people who were not involved in the process to open up the process. 

The overall value of the process was lauded.

It’s critical to have many different types of people at the table; none of us are experts on any of these. 

There was a little bit of posturing and grandstanding (but not from the observers); they were very cohesive working together; they did pretty good with their norms. 

Norm following - I think we got a “B”.

“Widget” and “snarky” are both Greek or Latin terms. 

There are a lot of concerns with Article 10; we should probably be following the norms. 

Considering the audience that they had they still did well. 

It’s important that the people who have been involved in this process for a while stay together.

Some of the side comments were distracting. 

Many of us here are funny, but telling jokes is not their forte. 

Thought they did very well, they are more collaborative then they ever thought they’d be. 

Whatever the differences between us, I still like you all.  The sidebars when other people were trying to present were distracting…but the dynamic was the same as previous contract negotiations; there was no marked difference with the meeting being open. 


You know…the main thing I came away with was astonishment that teachers only get a 30-minute lunch – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I mean, speaking for myself, I’ve watched my son’s Extremely Gifted teacher handling her classroom…and WoW…I would definitely need a Calgon-Take-Me-Away-length lunch period.

It does NOT seem like the teachers have adequate planning time at all.

The Summer School elimination is, was, and will be folly until reinstated.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – technology is not all its cracked up to be.  Smartboards, email, all that stuff has a place…but so did chalkboards and report cards with handwritten notes from the teacher.  I know I’m old-school, but oh well.

I left the meeting with a whole new appreciation for teachers – indeed, I have always been one of the teachers’ biggest and most ardent supporters.

I left the meeting feeling HELLA proud as well of District 11, much beloved alma mater that helped to shape me into the fierce spider I am today.

Well done to all parties.

I was very mindful not to present any type of distraction, and I appreciate and benefitted from this glimpse into the process.

Thank you for the opportunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment