Movement, But No Agreement

 

The following was sent to KEA members’ home emails today from Lisa Brackin-Johnson, KEA President:

Negotiators for KEA and the district were at the bargaining table with a second state mediator throughout the weekend, and back again this morning.

Much of the contract discussion since our most recent KEA member meeting on Thursday has focused on increasing time with students by putting limits on administrative and staff meetings. While we are closer on this issue, we do not yet have a tentative agreement on that topic. The district waited until noon today to respond to a class size proposal that KEA delivered nearly three days ago, at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. At this hour, KEA’s team is examining the response for its strengths and weaknesses. There has been no further discussion about compensation issues, although that has not been the major focus of our negotiations.

In summary, we have seen only incremental progress at the bargaining table. At this moment it does not appear we will reach an overall tentative agreement in time for a contract vote at today’s meeting unless the district’s response time to our proposals improves dramatically in the next few hours.

KEA members will meet at 6 p.m. this evening, Monday Sept. 7, at the Green River Community College gym to decide our next steps. Please attend. Arrive early and carpool because parking is limited. 

The address is: 12401 SE 320th St., Auburn. Find online maps at:

http://www.greenriver.edu/about/campus/directions/

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26 Responses to “Movement, But No Agreement”

  1. BaffledTeacher Says:

    I would like to see the proposals as of today. This will help me make my decision tonight.

    • Sixth Grade Teacher Says:

      I agree…

    • Bob Webster Says:

      Here is your decision. Go to school and teach. Work out your differences with the school board without exploting the children.

      • future national board certified teacher Says:

        Bob,
        I can speak for my colleagues when I reassure you that we do not exploit children. We see the big picture; the future looks grim if we settle for less than what is best for kids. Instant gratification would be a raise and I’ve already turned that down. Looking forward to what will be best for my students requires this small sacrifice to guarantee a better future.

  2. veteranteacher Says:

    KEA has accused the district of not being as transparent as they say they are. I am having a hard time understanding why KEA thinks it doesn’t have to be transparent. Isn’t it pretty paternalistic for the bargaining team to keep district offers a secret and to say,’We know what’s best” and “The offer isn’t good enough” without consulting the membership? I’d like to see what the current offer is before I go to the meeting and hear the union spin on it. This has turned too ugly on BOTH sides and it needs to stop. I don’t want a union pep rally designed to suck people in by their emotions without hearing both sides any more. I think that KSD and KEA are BOTH at fault and BOTH have behaved in a manner that does not respect the teachers who have supported them. I have supported KEA all along, but I cannot defy a court order and the law when I don’t even know what is happening in negotiations. I don’t trust that EITHER side wants to come to an agreement. This has been a power struggle from the beginning, but if we don’t solve this NOW with a compromise, we will pay the price for years to come.

    • KSDParent Says:

      Hi Veteran Teacher,
      Union transparency would be a dream come true! To read the contract proposals, I go to the KSD website but it seems to me from the teachers I’ve talked to, that none of them have even looked at them. It was refreshing to read your post because it seems that most teachers are choosing to not only strike, but to continue to strike, and are completely relying upon word of mouth on the picket line or at an emotionally charged pep rally. I realize that as a society, gossip is more fun than fact, but we all need to take a step back and encourage a positive collaboration. Putting parents and kids in the middle of a labor dispute is a worse crime than defying the court order.

      • KSDParent Says:

        Where’s my response to Veteran Teacher? It was written more than 24 hours ago (9/8 at 1:47 pm) and I see other posts on here more recent than that. I’m getting paranoid you are censoring.

  3. Torn Heart Says:

    I agree with the overall strategy, but if the union votes to defy the court order, I will have to contradict my personal belief system to participate. However, if I do not, I feel I will be shunned from the group. What advice do you have for me, and others in my situation?

  4. teacher Says:

    I second that.

  5. Bob Webster Says:

    Teachers,
    Using your students as leverage to get what you want is the worse kind of child explotation i can imagine. You need to make sure that you have a contract at the end of the previous school year. If you do not get a acceptable contract by the end of the school year you have all summer to picket and strike.

    You affect to many innocent people when schools do not open on time.

  6. Fed Up Parent Says:

    This comment deleted for violating blog policy regarding personal attacks.

  7. Buck Woody Says:

    Can you tell us parents if you are striking this week or not? We need to plan.

    Thanks!

  8. Raymond Gessel Says:

    It is my sincerest hope that reports that I have heard that the KEA voted to defy the court order are false. If your association fails to abide by the court order to return to work, you dishonor every student in the Kent School District by your direct violation of the law and of a valid court order. The greatest teacher is not word but example. Your disobedience sets a precedence for every student in the school district that if they disagree with authority that it is okay for them to violate a valid law, rule or order simply because they think they know better. Shame on you and your association and each member that follows such a course.

    • future national board certified teacher Says:

      Mr. Gessel,
      If I fail to show my students the democracy calls us to think critically about the value and purpose of laws created by fallible humans, THEN I’m dishonoring my students. I hope I never bend to the majority just because I’m afraid to think for myself.

  9. Fed Up Parent Says:

    This comment deleted for violating blog policy against personal attacks. Insulting the blogger will not increase the likelihood you get your comments on the blog.

  10. veryconflicted Says:

    The decision Kent teachers had to make tonight was a no-win scenario. On one hand we defy the court order and break the law as it currently exists in our state. This not only turns us into criminals, but it tarnishes … Read Moreour reputation with students and parents, administrators and other non-teacher colleagues. On the other hand, we choose to follow the court order and return with no contract in place with the district. This essentially eliminates our ability to have any idea our actual salary, jeopardizes insurance benefits, and sets us up for no recourse or protection should we be falsely accused of misbehavior at work. Not to mention it gives the district complete power to linger on negotiating our contract because there is no motivation for them to come to an agreement. So here we were, posed with the questions: Defy, what most consider an unjust, law? -OR- Return to work with absolutely no safeguards in place for the conditions of which you are employed?

    Defying the law makes me a criminal. Returning to work puts me in a place where I feel resentment and anger working for a district that doesn’t respect me enough to offer me a fair employment contract before I begin to work. Would you … Read Morego to work without some understanding between you and your employer in regards to pay, benefits, work hours, etc?

    There’s no right answer here. For most teachers, our jobs are our passion. We want nothing more to do them – but in fair agreement with how we will be treated for doing so. I know that still doesn’t justify breaking the law. Hopefully this helps someone see how complex this decision was today and know that there were lots of tears shed by KSD teachers today. This decision was not made lightly.

  11. Long time Parent volunteer Says:

    In talking to some teachers, it sounds like many of them shed tears today but not necessarily over the decision. It was with gratitude for the parents that showed up to support them. How wonderful for the teachers to know that there are parents who really understand why they are continuing on in the struggle to get the district to understand.

    What the teachers are asking for is not unreasonable! How can all the other districts around find ways to have caps on their classes? How can all the other districts around find ways to pay their teachers enough to keep them from being
    the lowest paid in the area?

    KSD’s cap for kindergarten is 31 right now and lowest number in their proposal for kindergarten cap is 29 students!!! The other districts have 23 or 24, with one at 26. Why can’t KSD see how important this is? Any parent who has been in a K or 1st grade classroom of 29-31 students knows that is too many students. Why don’t our children in Kent deserve better? If the district had come close to a reasonable cap, and without lots of clauses to get around those caps, then the teachers would be doing their prep day right now, I believe.

    If KSD really wants to show the community that they care about the students, they should consider having all the administrators give up $20,000 of their over $100,000 a year salaries. That would pay for a few teachers for the overcrowded classrooms in kindergarten and first grade at least and be a start in the right direction.

    Hang in their teachers and keep up the fight for our students’ sake!

    • Teacher Says:

      Thank you for understanding and being updated on all of the FACTS!!!!

    • true transparency Says:

      Thank you for your support! Every year children are packed into classrooms in this district and every year teachers keep asking themselves, “Do the administrators really think this is best for students?”
      We have written letters, emails, made phone calls, and had meetings through the years regarding this issue and the administrators offer excuses and turn their heads. Since the full contract was up for negotiation this year, this is the only time we can truly take a strong stand as an entire group.
      Please continue to educator other parents!!

  12. Concerned Kent Parent Says:

    There is a right answer, following the law is the right choice and finding creative ways to get what you want and pulling support from the community. It would take a lot of effort to keep the issue going once school started, but that is what your union is for, they have the money to keep the issue alive while following the law. It sounds like your members don’t even have the whole list of facts prior to the meetings, that is a sad thing. Contracts should take time to read, they shouldn’t be looked over in a large arena full of people, your members should have the information ahead of time, and then rally. The public should have a full view of all contract offers both sides, if you want our continued support I think you need to put everything in full view, both sides.

  13. veteranteacher Says:

    When asked by a teacher last night at the meeting how the district could afford to pay for the KEA demands of class size caps, KEA responded, “That’s up to the district to figure that out.” I am betting that NO ONE in administration at the district or even in administration at the building level will lose a penny of either salary or any of the elusive benefits and budgets given to them. I am betting if the district meets the demands of KEA, teachers and students will still pay the price. Jerking students and teachers around once they have settled into their classes is not in the best interest of students. It does more harm than large class size. If KEA pushes hard enough, KSD will agree to a hard cap, and then we will complain when teachers and students are reassigned during the school year. I cannot see any good coming out of this unless there is an agreement that classes will start the year at less than full levels to allow for growth and that teachers will not be reassigned during a school year, especially in high transciency schools. Is KEA ready to ensure this also or will they blame the district and look the other way?

  14. fed up mom Says:

    Kent Students are to show up tomorrow at school with backpacks on and signs that read, “Obey the Law, send us our teachers”

  15. Kent Parent Says:

    Just objectively and totally non-confrontationally speaking here… Where did you hear that “your members don’t even have the whole list of facts prior to the meetings”? The district website and other district created information is going to spin things into ways that make them look like they are being more than reasonable.

  16. Worried Mom Says:

    I’ve read a lot here on this blog overall about how you can justify civil disobedience and I do understand some of it, but equating this to the Civil Rights Movement seems unfair. Many of you talk about how you are there to nurture and care about our kids, but you’re putting them in a difficult situation now because many of us are being forced to say, “Despite the example of your teachers, you may not behave this way.” I don’t want my son told that this is appropriate behavior.

    Please go back to work, please negotiate your contracts while you do your job. I am having to work not to drive past our middle school because each time we do, we end up in a discussion about why you are not obeying the judge. I have a child who will be driving in a couple years, I want him to respect the law. You’re undermining my parenting when you blow off court orders. Not all of us have dysfunctional homes and I’m trying to raise a polite gentleman who respects the law. I think you’ll appreciate that in him, he raises his hand, he says yes and no and he is polite and obedient for YOU, but he is asking why he has to be now because of your example.

    PLEASE don’t make parenting any harder than it is in this internet generation. I’m trying so hard to respect you for the sake of my son’s interest but you’re making it so hard anymore. I want to work WITH you but you are doing things that are fundamentally illegal and I can’t condone that. PLEASE GO BACK TO WORK!!!

    • Resolute Says:

      I do not equate this fight to the Civil Rights movement though I do believe there are correlations. We are not fighting for the freedom of an entire people but for the education of the students in Kent. Both are important but I agree that we are not on the same level as Martin Luther King and what he did. That does not mean to say I don’t find inspiration in his words.

      I think one thing to talk about with your child is to ask him why he thinks we are doing this. I think the way I will be talking about this to my kids when we get back is to take them through a similar process to what we faced. Let’s say you were sitting in your classroom and someone started bothering you. What’s the first thing you do? Ignore it. What happens if that doesn’t work? Ask them to stop. What if that doesn’t work? Tell them that they are bothering me and they need to knock it off. What if that doesn’t work? Go to the teacher. What if that person doesn’t listen to the teacher? Ask the teacher to move me. What if the teacher won’t move you? And so on.
      All those actions the student is doing are reasonable responses to someone bothering them but nothing is changing the situation. Eventually, that kid is going to lose it and lash out at the student, at the teacher or start to do poorly in their studies because they are so bothered by it. As teachers, we didn’t immediately choose to strike, we worked through every avenue available to us until we were backed against the wall, just as I picture a student who has approached every avenue open to them to solve the problem of a bully only to be thwarted at every turn. If that student gets no support from their teachers or adults in their lives, something is going to snap and whether it’s they go on suffering in silence, causing damage to their education and who they are as a person or they end up in a fight with the bully which is wrong. Personally, I would rather fight to solve the problem than suffer in silence allowing things to get worse and worse until there is nothing left for me to fight with.

      I do not deny this is a difficult situation and everyone needs to teach their children as they see fit. Personally, while I will teach my children to follow and respect the law, I will not advocate they do so blindly. Every society needs people to challenge the leadership and challenge the status quo in ways that are reasonable and peaceful. Otherwise we might as well be back living under a dictatorship with no rights of our own. I even encourage my students to do this in ways that are respectful, it’s how they grow into young adults with minds of their own. We did everything we could to call the district on their unfair and detrimental policies in ways that were respectful, peaceful and within our rights as a collective bargaining unit. We will continue to do so.

  17. wanting this over Says:

    I agree and second what Worried Mom has posted. It is hard to parent our beliefs when our other role models to children are going against what they’re being taught at home.

    I love our teachers, I’m excited for our school to begin, but it’s making it hard to support people that break the law on purpose.

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