Thursday, October 25, 2012

Newark Contract: Weingarten is a Serial Pusher of Bad Contracts

The NTU leadership and Weingarten ought to be ashamed they're pushing this piece of shit contract onto Newark teachers, but they're incapable of that emotion. They're too busy sucking up to the corporatocracy as they collect their six figure salaries and benefits and sell working teachers down the river with these "innovative" contracts Weingarten and the education reformers/corporatocracy love so much. It's time to rid the AFT and the locals of these corporate shills and bring in leadership that defends public schools and teachers from the horrors of corporate education reform. ----Reality-Based Educator
When the Baltimore Teachers Union was initially faced with a merit pay proposal in 2010, they turned it down. But after Randi Weingarten and the AFT went there to convince the Baltimore teachers that this was a good contract, a second vote passed merit pay and the contract provisions. Since then, the number of unsatisfactory evaluations (ineffective) shot up throughout the city, in some schools as high as 60%. Let’s not repeat these same errors.  ---NEW Caucus analysis of contract
The Weingarten tactic she and Unity Caucus used here in NYC in pushing the 2005 contract of saying the only alternative is to strike is being used hot and heavy in Newark, as Jersey Jazzman chronicles in this letter (A Newark Teacher Speaks) from a Newark teacher:
From every account I heard, however, our rep told those who were there that if we don't vote for this proposal, the only thing left will be to strike - with no income, no benefits, etc.  Now several people who were firm NO votes are concerned.  They are waffling.
JJ has many articles on the contract but does not take an out and out stand against it trying to lean over backwards to give Weingarten a break:
I also appreciate the work AFT president Randi Weingarten and Newark Teachers Union president Joe Del Grosso did to get this deal done. I am a union guy - I am on your team.

But this is not helpful
:
This is not a merit pay system,” said Weingarten. “This is a full compensation system where the work you do and the compensation you have are tied in together.” She said the new contract is “aligning the evaluation system with experience” while offering “significantly higher salaries for teachers all throughout their experience. … When you have all of those components, that’s a professional compensation system." [emphasis mine]
I'm sorry, but there's just no way you can call this anything but a "merit pay system." From the NTU's own joint statement with NPS:
I wouldn't use the terms "not helpful" here. How about "Vichy, backstabbing swine?" 

Leave it to Reality-Based Educator to lay it on 

Newark Teachers Hammer Union Leaders Over Sell-Out Contract

A lot of people met Del Grosso and the union leadership tonight and it doesn't sound like too many of them are happy with this sell-out contract.

We'll have to see how the vote goes, but if tonight is any indication, Randi Weingarten and the rest of the corporate shills at the AFT and the NTU might have some trouble getting this "piece of garbage that will divide the union" passed.

And that's of course exactly what this contract is meant to do - divide teachers, pit school staffs against each other, pit young against old, pit other teachers in New Jersey against teachers in Newark if they agree to this contract and merit pay comes to other towns and municipalities.

The NTU leadership and Weingarten ought to be ashamed they're pushing this piece of shit contract onto Newark teachers, but they're incapable of that emotion.

They're too busy sucking up to the corporatocracy as they collect their six figure salaries and benefits and sell working teachers down the river with these "innovative" contracts Weingarten and the education reformers/corporatocracy love so much.

It's time to rid the AFT and the locals of these corporate shills and bring in leadership that defends public schools and teachers from the horrors of corporate education reform.
And of course out brothers and sisters in the NEW Caucus which we in MORE relate to. Here is their latest analysis of the contract. I imagine they will play a similar role ICE and TJC played in the 2005 contract battle here in NYC where we did help turn out almost 40% to vote NO despite the Unity machine going out full force.

Here is what NEW sent out:


NEW Caucus members and supporters:

For all of you who came out today, THANKS!  We had a great meeting, and met lots of new people!  It's inspiring to talk and share with great colleagues who care about their profession and their union.  

Attached is another pdf of the Working Analysis of the Proposed Contract
NEW Caucus members and supporters: {SEE BELOW}

For all of you who came out today, THANKS!  We had a great meeting, and met lots of new people!  It's inspiring to talk and share with great colleagues who care about their profession and their union.  

Attached is another pdf of the Working Analysis of the Proposed Contract, for those who missed it the first time around.  Alsoattached is the October issue of NEW Views.

Please read it - and the Contract MOA - carefully before Monday's vote!

And tomorrow, please remember to...


                         Attend the FOURTH NEW Caucus Truth Session, THURSDAY, October 25th!  



"Race in American Visual Culture"
What is "race" in the United States?  
How has the concept been portrayed artistically over time?
How does art and visual culture affect perceptions and attitudes?
                                                                                                                             Central High School, 5 - 7 pm
                                                                                                                             (Park in Central HS Parking lot)


In Solidarity,
Newark Education Workers Caucus
(NEW Caucus)
Facebook.com/NEWCaucus Twitter.com/NEWCaucus

Please read it - and the Contract MOA - carefully before Monday's vote!

And tomorrow, please remember to...


                         Attend the FOURTH NEW Caucus Truth Session, THURSDAY, October 25th!  




"Race in American Visual Culture"
What is "race" in the United States?  
How has the concept been portrayed artistically over time?
How does art and visual culture affect perceptions and attitudes?


What This PROPOSED Contract Means For Education Workers and Students
  • ●  THIS CONTRACT HURTS STUDENTS!
  • ●  THIS CONTRACT IS INHUMANE! IT THREATENS THE HEALTH AND FAMILIES OF NEWARK EDUCATION WORKERS!
  • ●  THIS CONTRACT SLASHES TEACHERS SALARIES AND BENEFITS!
  • ●  THIS CONTRACT DESTROYS OUR UNION! At every turn it destroys our ability to defend and protect our members!
  • ●  THIS CONTRACT PITS TEACHER AGAINST TEACHER! It destroys union and working class solidarity!
  • ●  More Turnaround schools! More charter schools! TEACHERS WILL BE ROBBED OF JOBS! Larger class sizes!
  • ●  DICTATORIAL SUPERINTENDENT CONTROL OVER NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM!
  • ●  LOSS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN RETROACTIVE PAY! No guarantee WHEN we get it!
  • ●  LOWER SALARIES OVER TIME for those who choose OR are FORCED into Merit Pay!
  • ●  LOWER SALARIES for ALL employees, EVEN THOSE WHO STAY ON TRADITIONAL SCALE!
  • ●  Few teachers will be rated Highly Effective! FEW TEACHERS WILL ACTUALLY GET BONUSES!
  • ●  The philanthropic money for merit pay can disappear, as it did in Washington DC, leaving NPS without money to pay bonuses!
  • ●  LONGER PERMANENT HOURS, FOR NO ADDITIONAL PAY!
    THIS IS A CUT-THROAT BUSINESS CONTRACT, NOT A SOCIAL JUSTICE CONTRACT.
  • ●  IT ENSURES THE PRIVATIZATION OF NEWARK SCHOOLS WITHIN 5 YEARS
  • ●  IT MEANS INDENTURED SERVITUDE FOR EDUCATION WORKERS
  • ●  IT DOES NOT PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH ANYTHING THEY DESERVE IN SCHOOL
    SOLUTION = VOTE NO TO MOVE TO ARBITRATION
  • ●  DEMAND THE FORMATION OF A RANK-AND-FILE CONTRACT COMMITTEE
  • ●  ENABLES WILLING AND ABLE NTU MEMBERS TO WORK WITH LEADERSHIP TO
    PREPARE A COUNTER, SOCIAL JUSTICE-BASED CONTRACT
  • ●  NEED EQUAL RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS, SMALL CLASS SIZE GUARANTEE,
    INCREASED LEARNING SUPPORTS, BALANCE OF POWER IN EVALUATION PROCESS, REDUCTION IN PAPER WORK FOR TEACHERS, ANTI-BULLYING PROVISION, HIRING POOL, FAIR COMPENSATION, A STRICT TIMETABLE FOR FUTURE NEGOTIATIONS SO WE NEVER GO TWO PLUS YEARS WITHOUT A CONTRACT
CONTRACT ANALYSIS  

TEACHERS COACHING AND EVALUATION: 

While the descriptions of the Peer Oversight Committee and School Improvement Panel and Peer Validators seem to offer a modicum of protection for teachers from administrative abuse, both the Oversight Committee and School Improvement Panel are “ultimately” under the control of the Superintendent. In Part 1B, number 5, the language is clear: “The Superintendent will retain ultimate authority over the selection criteria, and management of Peer Validators.” In Part 1D, the language is even clearer: “The principal and his/her administrative team – with support from the Superintendent’s team – are ultimately and solely responsible for the decisions, content and quality of teachers evaluations. Nothing described in Section 1A, 1B, or 1C of this MOA shall be interpreted as challenging this premise.” In others words, both the Peer Oversight Committee and the School Improvement Panel are completely and unquestionably under the control of the Superintendent. 

Beyond that, even the Peer Validator system is weak. It only includes 1 Peer Validator, rather than a committee. Further, the “Peer” Validator does not even need to be a peer. This leaves even that process open to corruption or manipulation. Part 1, section C2, it is clear that Peer Validators do not even need to be your peers. 

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS:
Retroactive Pay is, in general, about 1/3 of what you are actually owed. IN NO CASE IS RETROACTIVE PAY THE ACTUAL AMOUNT YOU HAVE LOST OVER THE PAST 2 PLUS YEARS! 

If you have a Bachelor’s Degree only, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE in what salary scale you must accept. Young teachers with a Bachelor’s Degree and ALL new teachers for years or decades into the future will be on the Merit Pay scale. 

This contract discourages teachers from furthering their education by pursuing graduate degrees. There is NO incentive for teachers to become experts in their field, which helps us know our content better and become better teachers. 

Further, teachers on the Merit Pay scale are slightly higher than those on the Regular scale. However, within a few short years that changes. For any conceivable position, after a few short years the pay of those who choose to stay on the Regular Scale will be earning MORE per year than those who choose or are forced into the Merit Pay scale. 

This effectively creates a two-tiered contract which will split the NTU membership into two distinct interest groups – Merit Pay and Regular groups – WHO WILL IN THE FUTURE HAVE DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT INTERESTS WHEN NEGOTIATING FUTURE CONTRACTS! This will make it impossible for our union membership to stand in solidarity in future negotiations, dividing us so that we can never unify again. This has happened in private industry for the past twenty years. In the book 

Now it’s being applied to educators!
To get teachers to buy into their Merit Pay system, they propose a bribe. The tentative agreement labels it a “Transition Stipend,” but in reality, that stipend is a bribe, designed to hook teachers into a system that will pay them less over time, and DOES NOT GUARANTEE THEM MERIT PAY OR BONUSES. 

If you get an effective on your evaluation, you get your increment, but you only get Merit Pay if you get Highly Effective. In other words, you do not get Merit Pay simply for being Effective. YOU ONLY GET MERIT PAY IF YOU ARE RATED HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. 

Harrison, Bennett and Bluestone, The Great U-Turn: Corporate Restructuring and the Polarizing of America, they demonstrate how this method is used to PERMANENTLY lower wages for an entire industry.
In Part 2B, number 2C, it specifies that a $2,500 reward will be available only to those teaching in a “hard- staff-subjects.” In other words, if you do not teach in a hard-to-staff-subject--a vague term that is unspecified--you WILL NEVER have the opportunity to earn this reward. 

Further, we must look at the funding sources for these “rewards,” “bonuses,” and “awards.” All the money comes from a $20 million per year (about $50 million over the course of the contract) fund taken from “philanthropic funds.” Laughably, Part 2B, section 4, begins with the following: “In the unlikely event that philanthropic funds are not available...” [emphasis ours]. Even without a concrete example of such an “unlikely event,” we can all imagine Marc Zuckerberg becoming fickle, or not liking the way his money is being used, and choosing a new charity for his riches in future years. But we need not imagine anything. In Washington, D.C., the teachers union agreed to merit pay funded by “philanthropic funds,” only to find that philanthropic funding fell by 82% (from an average of $21 million between 2010 to 2012 to $3.8 million after Michelle Rhee left the district). Then, D.C. was stuck holding the bag with no money to pay these bonuses. In essence, merit pay is really never pay. 

None of these “bonuses” are pensionable, because they are not considered salary. “Awards” and “rewards” and “stipends” are also not salary, and therefore are also not pensionable. 

If you do not give sufficient notice for retirement, you will lose your sick days. You will literally be punished for not putting in your retirement notice early enough. 

Even the one area of the contract that seems to sound good, the “sick bank,” is not clearly delineated, and could therefore be administered in an unfair fashion. Who or what will run this “bank”? What criteria will be used to determine how sick days get used? None of this is specified at all.
In Part 2B, number 2D, union-sponsored courses are specifically NOT approved for credit equivalency for increment advancement. This delegitimizes the NTU as a professional organization. 

In Part 2F, number 3, super-seniority for NTU officials is specifically eliminated. In other words, the NTU is giving up protections for their officials and employees who still work in a school. Again, another step toward the delegitimization of the Newark Teachers Union.
In Part 2F, number 3, the wording that previously guaranteed that we could not be forced to work more than 6 hours and 30 minutes is deleted. With no wording protecting us, we can now be required to work more than the 6 hours and 30 minutes that has been the case in the past. 

Even our Spring Break is under attack. Part 2F, number 4, the wording that has previously guaranteed us our Spring Break is deleted. Basically, they can, potentially, eliminate our spring break. 

For neither of these 2 provisions is there any indication that there will be fair compensation for either those longer days or loss of spring break. In other words, we are being forced to work longer hours without being fairly compensated for our labor-power. 

If it’s not an “extended day,” added on to an already 6 hour and 30 minute teaching day, then it is a regular, full teaching day. NPS will attempt to argue that since it’s not an extended day program, employees should not be given any extra compensation. 

There is NO provision in this contract for how to place the “Employees Without Placement” in regular positions again. In Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union negotiated a clause in their recently signed contract that forces the Chicago Public Schools to place those teachers BEFORE HIRING new teachers. Teachers at Renew schools were similarly unprotected. 

Renew Schools are actually encouraged to seek waivers from our contract. This essentially makes renew school teachers “at-will employees,” a status that non-unionized workers have because they can be removed from their position more easily if they do not demonstrate uncritical fidelity to their boss. 

NPS will designate more Turnaround and “Renew Schools,” which will lead to more loss of placements and charter schools. Part 5, section C1 identifies the three rationales for “renewing” a school: 1) low enrollment, 2) low standardized test scores, and 3) “growth over time”--a vague standard that most likely refers to the yet-to- be-defined methods of connecting student test scores to teacher performance. Most problematically, there is open- ended language in this provision (“...including but not limited to...) that allows for an unending set of reasons for firing the entire staff of a school.
Not to be outdone, section C2 states explicitly that NPS will designate 10 Turnaround Schools per year (30 total over the course of the contract). This contract makes school closings, consolidations, and “turnarounds” easier, rather than trying to fight them. 

CONCLUSION
While all teachers want to get back on our steps, we need to be clear that we are getting back on our steps at a price. Not only are we not getting our full retroactive pay, but we are also getting paid less while being forced to do more, EVEN IF WE STAY ON THE TRADITIONAL PAY SCALE!
Further, while the scale and increments for the Universal (read “merit pay”) Salary Scale are better in the earlier years, they are significantly lower over time. In other words, you will fall behind the pay of those on the Traditional Scale after the first few years. 

Many of the old methods in the contract worked, or could have worked. But, they were never properly implemented. Department Chairs and Principals have always had the ability to withhold increments or fire teachers. Now, because these prerogatives have rarely been implemented effectively by past administrators, Christie, Cerf and Anderson are AUTOMATICALLY tying our increments and jobs to an unproven, subjective, and yet-to-finalized evaluation system. 

Throughout, the state and district are expanding their control and power over decisions affecting working and learning, whereas the amount of control and power of the NTU and education workers over those areas is contracting. There are attempts throughout to delegitimize our union. This is union busting! In numerous places, in the place of concrete regulations or procedures, committees are set up to “monitor” grievances, procedures, and the functioning of the evaluation system. These committees could very easily become bogged down in bureaucratic functioning, as have the current grievance procedures. 

NPS has rushed this contract because they wanted NTU ratification in time to make the deadline for Race to the Top, the very federal law that coerces states with billions of dollars in aid in return for closing schools, removing entire staffs from struggling schools, opening more charter schools, and increasing the use of standardized tests. 

The rush to complete this is evinced by the many sections which leave open-ended the procedures for implementing or enforcing a statement made in the contract. In other words, many procedures are simply given over to the state to be decided upon later! 

This is not a social justice contract. This is a cut-throat BUSINESS contract that will bring the forces of the market to public education. It turns education into a business which does nothing to directly address students needs. In fact, many of these provisions will ultimately hurt students. 

It will hurt students by creating a high turnover rate of teachers in schools. Between the two-tier wage system (which has proven to cause high turnover), not putting a cap on how many hours a teacher can work, and an evaluation system that makes sure that teachers are doing what the administration wants them to do, rather than what is best for these students.
It is also important to note that there is not a single study that shows districts which have merit pay improved student achievement. Merit pay also assumes that teachers will work harder if they get more money. This can’t be further from the truth. An overwhelming amount of teachers, in Newark and elsewhere, work hard everyday to provide a high-quality education for our students. Many even go beyond our work hours to fight for commonsense, research-based solutions that have been shown to positively impact student development. It is not the will of the teachers that are the main obstacles to increasing student achievement, but the conditions within NPS and the city that keep students from reaching their fullest potential. None of these factors are addressed in this contract. 

When the Baltimore Teachers Union was initially faced with a merit pay proposal in 2010, they turned it down. But after Randi Weingarten and the AFT went there to convince the Baltimore teachers that this was a good contract, a second vote passed merit pay and the contract provisions. Since then, the number of unsatisfactory evaluations (ineffective) shot up throughout the city, in some schools as high as 60%. Let’s not repeat these same errors. Vote no, organize our union, and demand a truly fair contract that works to serve the interests of all students and education workers in Newark.

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