Archive for September, 2011

Sometimes You Gotta Stand Up

September 18, 2011

My name is Michael Kerstetter and I am the Secretary Treasurer of the KEA.  Last summer I had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC, for the Save Our Schools march.  I went because I could and
because I felt it was the right thing to do.  This first thing I noticed was that there were probably less than 5000 people (my estimate) in attendance.  I’m relatively certain that you could find 5000 teachers within a short radius of Washington, DC; yet, the most well represented group was the Wisconsin Education Association.  Others were well represented; Boston had a large group, Texas had a bunch, and several other cities and states had relatively large numbers.  As a representative group for teachers however, it was not a large gathering although it was still exciting and invigorating to march on the White House.  Matt Damon is a rock star, BTW.  Here is a link to his speech from SOS, as well as links to the speeches made by Diane Ravitch and John Kuhn, a superintendent from Perrin, TX and a very dynamic speaker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Jh3Z52KV0,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wWQmwPZEr8,
http://www.k12newsnetwork.com/2011/08/watch-this-texas-educator-john-kuhn-at-the-sos-march/

Wisconsin was there for obvious reasons.  They understand what it means to have their rights taken away, having just been through that, and they were ready and willing to stand with teachers from other states to ensure that this would not happen to them; to in fact, save our schools.  Others, apparently not so much, although I am very aware of the stresses and time constraints placed upon teachers.  I am one.  I understand.

On a personal note, I know that it is difficult to organize teachers to action, even small actions, because that is a good part of what I do.  I can always count on thirty to fifty people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and do something for the benefit of the Association and I truly, sincerely thank and appreciate those people for what they do.  This is, however, an Association of about 1,700 members and generating interest in advocacy is sometimes agonizingly difficult.  Again, I understand why.

That brings me to my main point:  There is a level of activism that is necessary these days.  Teachers have to advocate for their own jobs and for their rights.  As we should have learned from Wisconsin,
it’s relatively easy to take rights away from people, and we should have learned from our own state that working conditions can be changed or eliminated by the vote of people who rarely, if ever, set foot in a classroom.  We have an election coming.  It is incumbent upon all of us that we do whatever we can to make certain that Washington does not become the next Wisconsin.  I don’t want to be an
alarmist, but we are one election away from that scenario.  Good people with good intentions allowed it to happen there and good people with good intentions need to stop it from happening here.  Be a part of the solution.

Thank you,
Michael Kerstetter
KEA Secretary Treasurer

KEA Bargaining Update September 2, 2011

September 4, 2011

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

 

A quorum of the membership of our association ratified a new
contract at the general membership meeting on August 30th. Key
components of the agreement include:

  • 1.9%
    – A stipend will be paid that makes up the difference between the 10/11 pay and
    the 11/12 pay for each cell reflecting both base pay and TRI pay. This will be
    re-negotiated for 12/13.
  • Late
    Arrival Days
    – nine 2-hour late arrival days for the next 2 years. 4 days
    teacher-directed and 5 days district-directed. KEA members in each building will
    decide which days are teacher days.
  • Goal
    Setting Model
    – language facilitates all elementary schools effectively
    moving to the goal setting model.
  • Civility
    Clause
    – the workplace will be respectful and criticism will be made in
    private.
  • Audio
    & Visual Recordings – must be
    mutually agreed upon in writing by both parties.
  • Bereavement
    – 1 day for those not in immediate family / household (no longer required to
    use discretionary leave)
  • Discretionary
    Leave Roll
    Over – in order to
    reduce confusion, establishes a 3-week window ending June 10th to
    roll over one day.
  • Nurses
    & Psychologists
    – provides more autonomy over use of time to complete
    required work.
  • Meetings
    no meetings 5 school days before conferences.

In addition to the agreements above, KEA and the district
agreed to work together in collaborative committees to plan for future Learning
Collaboration Time and to define the role of department heads. KSD also agreed
to encourage a reduction in required meeting time.

Members in each building need to vote on the use of the late
arrival days for this year. Additionally all members are encouraged to track
required meetings, a practice imperative to improving KEA’s ability to make
significant headway around this issue.

Thank you to all KEA members for your support during this
bargain. Have a great school year!

KEA Bargaining Team

Connie Compton, KEA President

Cindy Prescott, 4th/5th
grade, Crestwood / KEA Vice President

Michael Kerstetter, Music,
Daniel / KEA Secretary Treasurer

Lisa Brackin-Johnson,
Language Arts, Mattson

Brian Thornton, Social
Studies, Meridian Middle

Emma Goliff, 1st
grade, Panther Lake

Ron Nauer, PE, Meeker

Rose Racicot, Occupational
Therapy / Assistive Technology

Sandra Goveia, KEA Uniserv
Representative