Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Vacation: A Chance to Breath, Reflect, and Blog Again

The last month has been one kick in the ass after the other, almost completely tied to my work as president of my local. No layoffs in my district, per se, but the hidden story that many districts aren't talking about is the "provisional" teachers (those in the first two years of teaching) who are being non-renewed because state law says that they can be. It's not a layoff, or a RIF, but it is a teacher losing their job in a very real and tangible way, and that's just as hard on them as a layoff would be on someone in the private sector.

In my home district there were 9 provisionals, all of whom were given non-renewals. Some of them were called back almost immediately--my young speech therapists, for example, who can't have their jobs filled by anyone else in the district, or the PE teacher at my high school whose position is funded out of a grant. A couple of others I was able to negotiate through after the Federal stimulus money became more of a tangible asset; this is what's saved two of my special ed teachers. Two more were non-renewed for performance reasons, and in those situations all I can do is make sure that the district dotted the i's and crossed the t's before trying to negotiate the best exit package that I possible can.

The toughest ones are the three who had fine evaluations, and whose programs are going to continue on without them. My HS choir teacher, for example--because I'm in a district with declining enrollment, they were able to cover the three periods he teaches with other music teachers from the district. There's a 6th grade teacher who isn't exactly fond of the union to begin with, and is very angry at how things have been handled, but I've been able to get a commitment from the district that they will bring her back first before looking at anyone else, and that's more than most around the state are being given.

It's my shop teacher that really has me heated. He is provisional in the district and they've decided to start contracting with the Skills Center to provide shop classes. Fine, but that locks out my Freshmen and Sophomores who can't use the Skills Center. Plus, he was turning out kids who could go right into apprenticeships and get work in the trades, and that we would throw that away really annoys me.

The back-story is that I think it has a lot more to do with high school politics (i.e., there's another teacher in the building who has the principal's ear on what CTE "should" look like, and she wants my shop guy gone), and given that he's a provisional teacher I can do the full Rumplestiltskin (pull hair, scream, stomp feet) and it'll only create a pleasent diversion while the process goes on unabated.

I'm filing a grievance Monday morning, but it's a long shot.

Representation is *hard.* I take being the local president pretty seriously--I've been given a charge, and by God I'm going to do it to the best of my ability--but it would be seductively easy to skip a phone call, miss a deadline, say that there's nothing you can do, and just let it go. I've got a newfound respect for our Uniserv staff state-wide who are fighting this same battle on a x1000 scale.

It's summer. The battles are almost over for a few weeks, until the next round in the fall.

Thank God, it's summer.

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Blogger ms-teacher said...

Going into my first summer as a newly elected President of my local, I couldn't help but think "what the heck have I gotten myself into!"

You did well by your teachers and should be proud of yourself!

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Useful and realworld.



8:49 AM  

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