What is wrong with the School Committee’s current proposals?
1) The School Committee is double dipping on the same 1% and in so doing they are taking advantage of the teachers’ goodwill. Last year, the teachers delayed a 2% raise until mid-year so the Override budget numbers could stay consistent in the months that discussion was underway in the community. Now they are trying to count half of that 2% increase toward another, separate contract. That’s not appropriate. What they are really proposing is 1%.
2) As for the other 2% and 2% they have made it contingent on a longer school day in a fourth year, and for that year, they insist on cheapening the value of the minutes well below any adjustment that could be made for making just elementary educators stay longer.
3) To say that the added step is for everybody is too abstract. It is for those who are willing to wait years and years to get it, and frankly, it is already long overdue. No one should have to work more hours to get it. Nor should steps be treated as raises. Steps are not raises, they are a suppression of salaries that deny educators for years and years what their skill and performance warranted already.
4) Teachers are already working, including collaborating with others, for the amount of time the SC seeks to add, and much more time than that, but at least they control where they do it. During the school day we have now, their minutes are being double and triple booked. Forcing them to be in one place either shows that they are not trusted, or shows how disingenuous it is to call the use of the time as at the teacher’s discretion, or both. If and when you increase paperwork, data analysis, “coaching” and other demands that the teachers do away from their students and student work, it becomes clear that there is no choice at all as to how the added time must be used. Of course there is no time during the school day to get all of the work done in a quality way. The amount of it is absolutely unrealistic. Teachers will simply start their lesson planning and grading later in the day, and it will stretch later into the evening.
5) This is why we remain committed to having the School Committee work with us to ensure that workload cannot be expanded without limit. (Anyone who heard our proposal as a “veto by teachers” does not understand the proposal.)
This School Committee is increasingly interrupting teachers’ ability to focus on each and every student as a whole child. They are even refusing to preserve limits on student loads that are in place now and refusing to discuss caseloads with clinicians. One wonders: why didn’t the School Committee present the BHS class sizes (see below) when they celebrated the small number of elementary classes of 25 or fewer? And why is 25, or close to 25, okay? Do parents want them to also add another section of classes for each teacher on top of this in departmentalized grades? How about 6, or its equivalent (consider the expanding middle school Advisory). Why is the School Committee unwilling to commit to a current practice at BHS (4+1) that IS working?
When you allow larger class sections and more of them, standardization is not far behind as a practical matter. Of course, if you think that “common assessments” and commonly used curriculum are the way to go, you care less about class size anyway. And you better not care about true individualized instruction (as opposed to faux, that is, standardized differentiation) because the teacher will not have time to plan in response to the student he or she comes to know in all of his or her uniqueness. Given the meetings and expectations, there is not enough time left in the 24 hour day.
5) Finally, all of these constantly arising “district-wide” initiatives which will presumably “drive” “standards-based” and “data driven”, “continuous improvement” in instruction need constant training. Is this why teachers cannot be given 10 minutes of a meeting to speak about matters of importance to them (a proposal that has been rejected)? If training is cheaper (2 days, including Saturdays, at half pay, if the School Committee chooses — thereby turning teachers into on-call employees who cannot even depend on the already woefully disrespectful pay)–what stops the School Committee from reducing the value of all training or non-student time? Oh wait. That’s exactly what they want to do by adding the thirty minutes and not paying for the time at a regular rate.
We will not accept a longer workday and a longer year that cannot come close to making a dent in the workload that this School Committee may not understand is undermining the quality of education students are receiving. And we certainly won’t accept working more for free.