Sunday, July 09, 2006

Can You Say, "Disingenuous"? I Knew You Could!

California Educator Magazine. I threw out the May issue because I had too much other stuff to write about. Summer usually brings with it a dearth of education-related material, so the June issue becomes the target of my typing fingers. And what a good target it is!

My previous two posts provide ample fodder to those clear-thinking individuals who try to understand the union's contortions of reality. How, though, can such a person understand the article that appears on page 29?

A bill that blames teacher transfer rights for problems schools of greatest need have in attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers has survived the Senate despite CTA's opposition...SB1655 by Senate Education Chair Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) would remove a chapter's right to bargain transfer policies from the collective bargaining law.

Ok, I think I understand that. Scott--a "friend of education" in CTA parlance because of that "D" after his name--has proposed a bill that would take teacher transfer rights out of district collective bargaining agreements and codify them in state law. CTA opposes this, but why?

Under the bill's provisions, principals in Decile 1-3 schools would not have to accept any transfer applicant, even if the teacher is fully credentialed and "highly qualified" as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Why might a principal not want to accept a specific applicant for a job?

A principal would be allowed to bar a teacher who is outspoken about curriculum and other needed changes or who is a union activist.

So who's in charge of a school, the principal or the teachers? It's the principal whose job's on the line if a school underperforms; I say let the principal choose his/her staff and see what happens. Worried about a union activist? I'd think a principal in such circumstances would be far more worried about having to accept someone who already knows better than anyone else what needs to be done and hence wouldn't go along with needed reforms. CTA's concerns ring hollow to me.

What's one of the perennial whines about underperforming schools? That good teachers transfer out of bad schools once they get a little seniority. How does CTA couch more opposition to this bill?

The bill could have the effect of keeping highly qualified teachers from transferring into the schools that need them the most.

I'm sorry if I just don't believe them. I'll tell you right here and now the only reason CTA is concerned about this bill. If it can't be negotiated, there's that much less for negotiators and the CTA to work on. That means that CTA is that much less useful. Their opposition to this bill is nothing more than self-protection.

But what's the real problem with underperforming schools? Apparently it's not great teachers, whom CTA thinks are applying to such schools in droves.

The bill does nothing to make schools of greatest need more attractvie places to teach--like giving them an infusion of money, lowering class size, improving safety conditions, or requiring high-quality principals. (emphasis mine--Darren)

You knew that was going to be the answer, didn't you? Like a broken record. Note how the problems are money and bad principals? Isn't is always thus?


EllenK said...

Does it ever strike you as odd that in teaching we can be fired at will, but are limited by contract to seeking other jobs? I look on the state chatboards and read all of these desperate posts stating how they are fearful of interviewing but have to leave destructive school situations. They are scared to say anything negative, fearful of resigning before contracts are offered and even then they seem largely at the mercy of the local school boards. Except for coaches of course who seem to be able to come and go at will, despite contracts. It makes it appear that the negatives in teaching are so high that we must be legally locked into the system in order to maintain minimum staffing. Is this really any way to run a business? If a normal corporation had employees leaving on a regular basis due to the work situation, it would seem that eventually something would change. I understand that schools need to know they can provide adequate staffing, but then again, if the workplace we pleasant, the standards upheld and the classes kept to reasonable sizes (not to mention paying decent wages) would schools really suffer so much?

Darren said...

I'm often amazed at the lack of legal protections other states provide their teachers. Here in California I cannot be fired "at will".

I've long thought that the relatively low pay of teachers, compared to what could be earned in the private sector (and what I used to earn in the private sector) was partially offset by the holidays, job protection, and retirement that we enjoy. The situation you describe is horrendous, and is partly why I support collective bargaining.