KEA Bargaining Update June 2011

Please note:  This bargaining update is reprinted here for the purpose of your response.  Questions, comments, suggestions, complaints and/or kudos are all welcome and will be answered, if that is called for, by bargaining team members as soon as possible.  This will be an ongoing feature during bargaining and please feel free to make use of the interactive component of this media.

Bargaining Team Goal:  To strengthen the KEA contract in the areas of working conditions, compensation, and benefits to improve teaching, and learning for the students of the Kent School District.

Bargaining continues! Your KEA Bargaining Team has met with the KSD district team four times this spring. The next joint meetings with the district are scheduled for all day June 24th and June 28th. We will continue to meet throughout the summer.

Between meetings with the district, KEA’s team meets to strategize and develop proposals. KEA’s focus is on improving learning conditions for our students, time (late start days, calendar, meetings) and teacher rights. Our proposals are based upon your input from listening sessions over the past two years, and member concerns.

Teams have stated interests and begun exchanging proposals addressing workload, teacher rights, and Learning Collaboration Time. At this point, no tentative agreements have been reached between the district and your association.

The current contract expires on August 31, 2011. 

Stay informed this summer.

Regular Bargaining Updates will be sent via home email and will be posted on the KEA Blog where you can also post your questions and comments.

Be sure to give your input when asked.

General Membership Meeting

August 30, 2011, 5-7 p.m.

Kentwood High School.

KEA Bargaining Team

Lisa Brackin-Johnson, KEA President

Connie Compton, Special Ed., Jenkins Creek

Cindy Prescott, 4th/5th grade, Crestwood

Michael Kerstetter, General Music, Daniel

Brian Thornton, Social Studies, Meridian Middle

Emma Goliff, 1st grade, Panther Lake

Ron Nauer, Science, Meeker

Rose Racicot, Occupational Therapy / Assistive Technology

Sandra Goveia, KEA Uniserv Representative


22 Responses to “KEA Bargaining Update June 2011”

  1. Weary Says:

    Learning Collaboration Time- would that be the early release days? If so, I would like those days to be in the hands of teachers to decide how that time will be used. No more “sit and take it” days in the library listening to KSD agenda.

    I also think that there needs to be language in the contract regarding RIF. According to one of my laid off colleagues, there isn’t a way for those teachers to find out where they are placed on the RIF list. Why is it such a secret? Two thoughts occur to me-one, teachers aren’t being laid off in the correct order and two, teachers aren’t being called back in the correct order.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Thanks for checking in and for your response. On question #1, you are correct – “Learning Collaboration Time” is the new name for the late arrival /early dismissal days. The KEA Bargaining Team and the KSD Team have discussed the use of this time at length at the bargaining table. The KEA team has stressed the importance of teacher directed time. We have been clear that there is a very long list of things that all of our members do day in and day out that require time.
      On question #2, the KEA leadership closely monitors who and in what order our members are RIFed and called back and if the district has not provided this information, please have your colleague contact the KEA office.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Will there be language in our new contract that requires principals to speak to us in a respectful manner (and even treat us nicely w/o that condescending tone or look)? If employees even raise their voice, they are considered on the edge of insubordination; yet, we’ve heard our principal lose his/her cool (and quite loudly) towards an employee or student, quite a few times.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    My friend teaches in another school district–a very large one in fact. Anyway, she tells me they have School Wide Decision Making. The teachers are happy and they principal plays more fair. Here, it seems like a dictatorship. They tell us what to do, and when to do it. No input. No listening to teachers. Can we put this into our contract?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Imagine that; a district that plays nicely. Really, that’s exactly what that amounts to. Under the Barb Grohe model of management excellence, we have been subjected to top down decision making in deference to best practices, workload, teacher needs, and common sense. We still operate under that model. The biggest difference is that Vargas is quieter about implementing his wishes. That doesn’t mean that they are not quietly being shoved down our throats. We are making stands; getting KEA involved in district decision making, not allowing stupid decisions to stand without making certain they understand, and making absolutely sure that they know we are not going to roll over without a fight. The problem is still that entrenched paternal thinking that they know best what is good for students and teachers and what WE need to do to make their wishes come true. I don’t need another daddy. I need a professional educational partner that takes into account the realities that I face in the classroom every day.

  4. Just a teacher... Says:

    Thank you KEA Team for all you do! The least we deserve in this contract is some workload relief and some respect! Thanks again!

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Thank you for what you do. The KEA Bargaining Team is working to do what we can to meet the wants and needs you have spoken of in listening sessions and in informal talks. We will continue to try to meet those needs.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Hear, hear on the earlier post about not wanting to sit in yet another KSD directed early release day! Overload our plates and still expect us to be effective? That’s backwards thinking in my book. I do hope KSD will learn from districts like Issaquah, where I hear their early release/late start days are all teacher directed. We should have nothing different than Issaquah or other districts around us have with teacher directed time. I know my boss will still try to sneak in a “quick meeting,” but then again, most of what she’s done is frankly sneaking around our contract. What was that post about respect?

  6. Veteran Says:

    I was wondering about the increased workload that has impacted our special education teachers with the implementation of MTI. While blending students with like instructional needs makes sense on the surface, this model has added students to the caseloads of IP teachers. These teachers have caseload language, but for portions of the day have students who do not have IEP’s. Depending on the building they are responsible for assessment, planning, implementation, and grading of these additional students. The number of students in these groups often stretches into double digits, exceeding MTI/RTI/ TI recommended numbers for small group instruction. This issue was highlighted during the RTI/Special Ed class with Mark Anderson as well as a KEA meeting with special educators. Hopefully these issues are being addressed in bargaining.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Will Kent be taking the 1.9 paycut for two years? Several districts have already announced their teachers will not take this cut. Thanks

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Since this is a forum for giving ideas, I am just throwing this out there. I know that you can not comment on ongoing bargaining issues, and that this idea may not work anyway, but just thought that I would throw it out there.

    I have been teaching for enough years that I have some seniority, but really started to think about this when a colleague, who is extremely ineffective in the classroom, made a comment about how since layoffs are only based on seniority, she has nothing to worry about. Is there any way to change our RIF/transfer because of RIF language? I do not like, nor do I agree with it only being based on seniority. I realize that not everyone agrees with me on that, but I do know of others that do. In my building, we are losing some great teachers because they are low on the totem pole, but some who are notorious for not doing what is best for kids (and are on plans of improvement) get to stay.

    I know that we do not have a perfect system, and I think experience definitely has a place, but would it be possible to do something like move you to the bottom of the list if you are on a plan of improvement (POI) and then move you back up if you successfully get off the plan. With our imperfect system of evaluation, it seems to me that this would be a step in the direction of trying to keep teachers in the classroom who are teaching kids effectively. While I don’t fully understand the POI process, it is my understanding that if you are on a plan, there is SOMETHING that you are not doing as well or effectively as you should be as there must be some documentation before you can be placed on a plan.

    I know that not everyone agrees with me, and that is fine, but I just thought I would throw out the idea and see from those who know more than me, if an idea like that is even feasible. If it isn’t could you explain why not so that I know? Thanks 🙂

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This points to a very important part of the evaluation system that is seemingly lost on a sizable portion of the public and some members, also. Teachers who are ineffective, as you say your co-worker is, should be EFFECTIVELY evaluated by their supervisors and, if found to be deficient, placed on a Plan of Improvement. A Plan of Improvement is intended to be just that; a plan for the teacher to IMPROVE. First, you should understand that our “imperfect” system, the Certificated Assessment Model (the CAM) is actually a very good model for Teacher evaluations and is consistent with almost all of the best systems available. That being said, there are places where it can become ineffective. Let’s go back to the process. A teacher can be placed on a “Plan” if he/she is found to be not performing satisfactorily in more than two (2) elements in one domain or more than three (3) total elements on an annual assessment. This is up to the assessor, usually the building principal, and, if done correctly can have very positive results for employees. If those results are not found to be satisfactory, the teacher can be dismissed. This is the piece that people don’t seem to understand and that creates considerable animosity toward the “Teachers Union.” The mechanism is already in place to deal with ineffective teachers without changing the layoff language or the seniority system, but the wrench in the machinery in this scenario is the administrator doing the evaluation. Some don’t do their jobs and we do wind up with teachers that don’t get the assistance they need or get the message that bad teaching will not be tolerated. Frankly, the whole discussion about teacher seniority has become very misguided. As a colleague said to me, “I’ve never heard a parent say, ‘Oh, fantastic! A new, inexperienced teacher!’”

    • Educator Says:

      I can understand your frustration, but from my experience as a veteran teacher, I am soooo thankful for seniority rights. I will tell you why. First of all, our contract has language for Plan of Improvements, which are typically applied when a teacher has been considered underperforming. If our administrators followed this, and can prove FAIRLY that a teacher needs to be terminated, then newer teachers cannot cry,”foul”, that teachers with tenure are taking away their jobs. No one likes to start in a profession only to be laid off after a year or two–but seniority protects teachers against the subjective evals given by some (vindictive) administrators. Can you imagine if your philosophy does not match your administrator’s and they would love to find a way to get rid of you? In our building our administrator has been known to say, “If you don’t like it, get out.” Wow. Talk about NO collaboration! Secondly, seniority protects teachers against termination of the very experienced which also equates to the teachers usually paid the most. So, imagine a school district wanting to cut costs, why not find a way to do that via terminating those teachers who make the most? Have the highest degrees or most experience? Once you are a teacher w/ tenure, I bet you’d change your tune and appreciate having seniority rights. From your perspective, you don’t see it now. Besides, I’ve seen principals save the jobs of their favored employees. They will pull strings to either get them a position that can be paid via a different fund, or they will lean on teachers they don’t care for until that teacher actually quits or finds another building. So, in essence, newer teachers will survive, but to slash our senority rights would basically turn this profession into one of, “walking on eggshells” all the time. And any teacher that thinks they have it in good with their boss, think again.

  9. Educator Says:

    Please bargain into the contract that specialists that do not have regular groups of kids to work with, cannot be “supervisors” of other certificated staff. They were given that “power” and it’s not in our contract. If we do not listen to what these “supervisors” say, they tattle to the head honcho who then reads us the riot act. How can this be legal?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This is a bit disturbing but will continue as long as the people in your building tolerate it. Members do not supervise members and no one has been given “power” over others. The person(s) you describe sound like they are sucking up to admin in order to gain favor in some way. A good administrator would discourage this behavior because it creates tensions and hard feelings inside a staff and that is not good for the overall climate of the building. Nobody likes a tattletale/snitch. You should inform Connie or Sandra of this and we (KEA) can work with district admin (our new partners in education) to remedy this. Call 253-852-1350.

  10. Weary Says:

    This is in reference to the KEA response about evaluations. How should I respond to a colleague who insists, adamantly, that union officials stand in the way of administrators terminating ineffective teachers? This person insists from personal experience that the union will always defend the teacher making it impossible for principals to do their job.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I am a union member and I can tell you that your colleague that complains about the union protecting ineffective teachers is dead wrong. Point that colleague to the contract and let them read the language for POIs. I’ve witnessed principals using POIs and I’ve seen those same principals oust the teachers that did not improve. It’s that easy.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Your colleague is correct in saying we will defend members, but there is more to the story, of course. What we do is make sure that members rights are defended and that the rules of just cause are followed. Members pay dues and part of the responsibility in return is that we give fair representation to all members. If we stand in the way of someone being dismissed, it is because the district did not make their case properly or well enough. Could this prevent a “bad” teacher from being fired? Possibly, but it is maybe more likely that it will prevent someone from being dismissed without proper cause and we will fight that fight every time. If there is sufficient cause for dismissal, we can’t possibly stop it, if it is done fairly and correctly.

  11. Not Again Says:

    Please tell your member that is upset that he/she thinks bad teachers are protected by the union that everyone deserves to have Due Process and Just Cause Rights. The union ensures each member has these rights and that includes even the member that does not understand what a union stands for.

  12. Nameless Says:

    Please tell the member who thinks unions protect “bad” teachers, that even he/she would be protected in their job. It’s called Due Process and Just Cause rights. Something afforded every member b/c they belong to a union. Try getting those rights in a workplace that has no union. You wouldn’t. That’s the point.

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