Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bulletin Boards 'R US

The following interchange on bulletin boards either affirms the need for extensive teacher contracts or makes the point that no matter what they say, or don't say, they are often irrelevant. I always found that there was much fuzzy language that could be exploited by admins. At one point the UFT was able to get away with stuff. But under BloomKlein, principals have received training and advice in how to go around the contract and chapters have been devastated.

Take the ironclad language of a guaranteed duty-free lunch period. This has been violated constantly through "lunch 'n learn" meetings. The UFT response: make believe it isn't happening. Note Woodlass' advice includes the proviso of whether the UFT would back such a grievance on bulletin boards. My bet is it won't or only do so tepidly because the UFT strategy has been to hope there are places where the contract is being followed and a loss on the grievance would open up the door. Not a winning or aggressive long-term strategy. But what else can we expect from them?

Posted to ICE-Mail:
Hi Group,

What exactly is the story with bulletin boards and the UFT contract?

My admin says ( in *writing*): "Bulletin boards in the hallways and cafeteria must display current ( name of school) themes and be updated by the second Friday of each month."

Note the word "must". A slew of other specifics follows.

OTOH, the Know Your Rights section of the UFT website contains the following:

Bulletin Boards
If you are required to do classroom or hall bulletin boards, their format is up to you. In a right won recently, your principal cannot dictate how they look or discipline you for their format.

I told my supervisor of the apparent contradiction; she said she was not aware that the contract spoke to this issue. Actually, I can't find in in the contract either, but it IS most definitely on the UFT website as quoted.

May seem minor but is NOT. These out-of-classroom ex-teachers OBSESS about bulletin boards. Form AND content; to the most *minute* detail. It is a HUGE distraction from real teaching.

So who's right? Me or the admins?


Woodlass reply:

Bulletin boards are mentioned in the contract in Art. 21.A.6, below.
But notice it says the FORMAT, not the CONTENT.

The way I see it is this:

The only way to resolve this ambiguity (if you see it as ambiguous, it may be really concrete and NOT grievable at all) is if the union backs you at Step II (which is up to you to convince your DR to go for it), and then hope it gets it to the arbitrators. They don't pick up every Step I and take it all the way. I try not to file a grievance unless I know they're going to back it at Step II. Step II we always lose, but if it gets to Step II and loses, you might be able to convince union to take it to Step III, which is then arbitration. There are only limited slots for arbitration, so I don't know they'll go the whole way with you.

A. Teacher Files
Official teacher files in a school shall be maintained under the following circumstances:
6. The following issues shall not be the basis for discipline of pedagogues: a) the format of bulletin boards; b) the arrangement of classroom furniture; and c) the exact duration of lesson units.

Thanks, Woodlass. We're not at the grievance point yet. Apparently this is a "right recently won" ( the UFT website) and it is likely that the admins are not up to date.

OTOH, if they lose the authority to micromanage bulletin boards I'll be damned if I know what they'd come-up with nest.

They have to do *something*. Or appear as though they are.

I'll make the rounds with the aforementioned 21 A6, and see what kind of reaction it elicits.

I'll keep you posted. ( BTW, yes.... too bad "format" is not defined; hard to distinguish sometimes from "content".)

Thanks again.

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