EDU members report on concerns around the district

Tom Edminster and Nina Lawitt raise some concerns about conditions in the district:

1. What are we going to do about the 1 hour/day cut in pay that security aides (“T-10’s”) experienced several years ago??

2. What shall we do about SENIORITY in our classified unit?? Whenever classified have had to change their job classification, they have LOST their SFUSD-wide seniority. UESF agreed to this. Are we ever going to rescind this attack on SENIORITY—which we went along with. RETURN to seniority by “date-of-hire” would seem rather basic.

3. Child Development/Early Childhood program: UESF opened the door to undermining conditions with a “pilot program,” but it never held SFUSD to the initial terms of the agreement. The “pilot program” was supposed to give CDP staff more hours that would in turn generate a higher yearly salary for the under-compensated CDP teachers –even though the CDP teachers were not paid the CDP per diem rate for the added hours! Yet SFUSD shortened the CDP/Early Childhood program work year from 248(218) days to 191 days. This caused a huge loss of income for CDP staff, both paras and teachers. The CDP teachers also suffered an extra loss of 6 weeks of non-service days, which had previously been a “vacation” benefit. [There will be a “Summer Session” CD/EC program but many CD/EC teachers and paras will NOT get the opportunity to work it because only certain sites will be open.]

SFUSD also reneged on pilot program commitment to a “support teacher” for every 2 classrooms. This is an issue for CD/EC workers and clients. The “support teacher” position was essential to insure adequate staff coverage during the day : allowing for meeting time, prep time and time for professional development. The lack of the “support teacher” position may be why the paras’ hours were extended to 9 hours per day by means of one extra hour, that is actually unpaid.

4. When will UESF insist on “meet and confer” with SFUSD to review ALL TESTING?? The over-testing of most students and the EROSION in instructional time, the EXTRA time put upon teachers to assess and process testing—should be contested on a SYSTEMATIC—not merely a piecemeal basis.

5. How about that “Weighted Student Formula,” which was really a formula for austerity? School sites used to be staffed based on staff to student ratios. Then-UESF Pres. Kent Mitchell cut a deal with then Superintendent Ackerman (in violation of the UESF-SFUSD contract), and thereafter school sites were funded based on a dollar amount per student, rather than SFUSD as a whole being responsible for staffing. And UESF has never looked back. AS A MATTER OF FACT, the overall student ratios for each division (34.4 students per teacher for High Schools, for example)—has been TAKEN OUT OF THE CONTRACT, as of the LAST contract agreement negotiated by the Dennis Kelly regime.

Join the EDU debate on Prop 30

EDU has decided, as a caucus, to take no position on Prop 30. However, with this posting we are opening a dialogue among our members about Prop 30. Please join the discussion through our comments section.

Andy Libson and David Russitano on Prop 30:

California education is in crisis. In the last 35 years, California has gone from 1st in the nation to nearly 50th on many educational measurements. It started with passing of proposition 13, with it’s corporate loopholes, all the way through to Race to the Top and now, Brown’s recent pension reform.

While it has been billed as progressive, Prop. 30 is a “shared sacrifice” measure that raises taxes through a regressive sales tax increase and a progressive income tax increase.

Proposition 30, on the ballot this November, will no way reverse the tide of this attack. Despite the fact that it is projected to raise $9 billion, it will not stop the bleeding of resources from public education or public services.

As soon as the Millionaire’s Tax was defeated and the Prop. 30 compromise was reached. Sacramento politicians reported that the CA budget deficit was actually $17 billion not the $9 Billion that had been reported earlier. With a stroke of a pen, Governor Brown swallowed whole virtually the entire amount of $9 billion in revenue projected to be raised by Prop. 30.

Despite Prop. 30 being billed as a measure to fund education, Prop. 30 is primarily an initiative for balancing the state budget and in no way guarantees money for public education. Governor Brown is already indicating that Prop. 30 revenues may be allocated for construction of a California bullet train.

EDU believes that no matter what happens in November that cuts to education in social services are guaranteed. The job of our union (UESF) and all unions in CA is to organize their members to stop all the cuts. Like our sisters and brothers in Chicago, California unions should have used the power of our membership to strike in SF, in LA and in SD. Instead, our unions pulled the plug on this approach to focus on passing a Proposition which does not stop the cuts in education but advertises to delay deeper ones.

By accepting cuts in our contract if Prop. 30 fails and selling our struggle short to campaign for Prop. 30, educator unions in SF, LA and SD, have accepted the framework of shared sacrifice and balancing budgets at the expense of vital social services. Furthermore, by agreeing to contract frameworks that accept massive furloughs if Prop. 30 fails unions have accepted that our contract or our schools will be bargained at the ballot box. This was a huge mistake that has put public education at the mercy of an election system rigged to favor the rich.

Far from building the fight against austerity and cuts, Prop. 30 has been a tool by Governor Brown to demobilize it. It is unfortunate that some many unions across California have joined him in this.

For that reason, EDU will not be calling for a “yes” vote on Proposition 30. At the same time, EDU rejects the “no” vote coming from “no news taxes” right-wing that also seeks to dismantle publically-provided education and services. If Prop. 30 passes, EDU believes that UESF will need to be preparing to fight layoffs and cuts in the spring. If Prop. 30 fails, we believe we need to find a way to fight the trigger cuts that will be used to justify furloughs and further attacks on public education.

Send in your ballots! Last chance to vote NO on this contract.

EDU has been out at the informational meetings for the tentative contract agreement the past two days. If you’re still holding that ballot, get it in the mail this Thursday to make sure it is delivered to the union office by Monday evening!

We haven’t changed our minds about voting no. Here’s a few more reasons why:

EED: layoffs
When asked how many pre-K paraprofessionals would lose their jobs because of the consolidation of hours, president Dennis Kelly answered that the district says there will be no additional layoffs. Yes, the district has already laid off all the paras they’re going to layoff as a result of this deal, which has not yet been voted on. A few problems with this. 1. We should not take the district at their word. There’s no contractual guarantee they won’t lay off. 2. SFUSD doesn’t have any limits on when to layoff EED paras like in the regular school day program ( the March and May 15th dates we’ve all become so familiar with). They can lay off whenever they want with a 45 day notice. 3. So….since the paras have already been laid off this is supposed to be a good thing that no additional layoffs will happen? I don’t get it. Our para force is shrinking, they haven’t had a raise in years and they don’t make a living wage. It’s outrageous.

Class size: staffing allocation table gone (except for K-3)
One bargaining team member said in response to questions about the staffing allocation table being removed for all but K-3 that we, ” never had class size limits.” I just don’t get it. Many years in this district I have walked into my principal’s office with the contract in hand, pointed to the staffing allocation table and demanded that changes be made. It was a tool that helped members fight for their rights at their own sites. It’s gone now. Everyone is clear that the word “goals” doesn’t mean limit.

Special Education: Resource specialist responsibility changes and INCREASED caseload!
While classroom teaching responsibilities for resource specialists(31.9.1.2) could be a positive role toward developing inclusive practices and RTI at a school site, the TA does not lower the caseloads forteachers willing to teach in blended classes. The SFUSD audit suggested caseloads of 8-14 for all special education teachers as a final goal. It’s not unreasonable at all to demand a dramatically lower caseload for resource specialists; they cannot effectively implement inclusive practices and develop an RTI model with such large caseload responsibilities. Unfortunately, the TA eliminated the staffing allocation table and with it the 24 student RSP limit. The “goal” section remains with RSP at 28 students. giving teachers 4 more students and hitting the limit of the federal mandate. This is going in the opposite direction of the audit recommendations and increasing the exploitation of RSPs. It is bound to fuel more SPED burnout.

One union member asked, “A lot of what I’ve read is what we conceded to or status quo. What’s the big pluses of this contract?” Here’s part of the answer this member got: “If you’re in k-3 it’s a significant defense” and “some of the advancements were holding our ground” Holding ground and defenses are not advances. They just aren’t. We won’t win win advances without a struggle. We have not yet struggled.

Vote NO and send a message to SFUSD that we are ready to fight for our students, our city and our jobs.

You got your ballot. That means this is democratic right? Wrong.

By now all members of UESF should have received a ballot in the mail asking you to vote yes or no on the Tentative Agreement. But don’t be fooled, just because you got a ballot and you get to vote on this contract, doesn’t make this process democratic, not in the slightest. You might even consider voting NO for this reason: our union leadership should engage as many members as possible in democratic decision making processes, especially on matters as essential as our contract.

Democratic practice is based on having the broadest possible informed participation of those involved. The new Executive Board had to review the TA (tentative agreement) and approve it before it was sent on to all members for ratification. This meeting happened on August 1st. We read through it for three hours. Some asked clarifying questions during this time, but mostly we were just trying to get through the document and understand it. When we were done we literally had 10 minutes left in the meeting room and we were asked to vote to recommend the TA to the membership. EDU members pleaded for slowing down, for not making a decision on the same day, for involving members and talking to others before we moved forward. These pleas were all but ignored and the vote moved forward. PLC members voted for it. EDU voted against. That’s the plain truth. The TA passed the Executive Board 14 – 7.

Your ballot is due in the UESF office on August 20. Most members don’t return to work until the 15th, the same day as one of two informational meetings the union office has poorly publicized. You have two chances to go to a meeting to get more information about the TA – the 14th from 3-5 and the 15th from 4-6 both at Everett MS. These meetings both end too early to be inclusive of EED (formerly CDP) workers who will be the most severely injured in this new contract. Sure they had a meeting of their own on August 6th. A handful attended. Should our leadership be happy with a tiny minority of the membership being informed about the concessions in this new contact? Your ballot can be delivered at these meetings or put in the mail by Thursday (to be safe). Is this really enough time to be seriously deliberative about changes in working conditions and concessions that will follow us for years?

In May over 1800 members of our union voted to take a strike vote. This is nearly 3 times the number of members who voted in the union election that same month. Members voted for a strike vote to happen. We didn’t vote for our bargaining team to go in and settle over the summer without our input. Why didn’t the second strike vote meeting get scheduled?

Sadly, undemocratic process is consistent with what we have seen from the PLC leadership over the last years. The bargaining team was appointed by union president Dennis Kelly. A bargaining team elected by at least the standing Executive Board would be more accountable to the folks who elected them and to the membership they are speaking for. Bargaining reports were made by the president with very little input from other bargaining team members during discussion. The Executive Board was not asked to set priorities for bargaining, nor were EBoard members asked what they thought about the reports or encouraged to shape bargaining in any way. This is the result – a contract that is filled with concessions and a union membership largely unaware of what the people who are supposed to be representing them are doing.

Vote NO on the TA and send SFUSD and your union a message that we all deserve better than this.

“NO!” means “NO!” EDU response to Tentative Agreement

This statement includes a correction to the section on the EED program. You can download a copy of this flier here.

On May 10th, 2012, 1900 UESF members voted to set a second strike vote date to reject ANY and ALL layoffs, furloughs, class size increases, and dizzying array of cuts proposed by the district. We demanded the district use up $75 million in restricted and unrestricted reserves to defend our jobs and schools, not dismantle them.

Now the UESF Executive Board recommends passing a Tentative Agreement that not only gives in on virtually every single demand of the district, but also wholly ignores the willingness of our members to fight back.

So what does SFUSD get in this agreement?

Furloughs? Yep. 3 over the course of 2 years (although they limit impact on the classroom) and an agreement to up to a whopping 6.5 furlough days this year and 10 days next year if Proposition 30 does not pass.

Class size increases? Check. Special Ed. classes will see increases and reduced protections for keeping class size small. Class size limits are being removed from our contract for grades 3 & above, deferring instead to limits set by the State. The same State that voted to reduce the minimum number of school days from 181 to 160 to allow more furlough days. No thanks!

Layoffs? Yep. Layoffs have been reduced for half the certificated teachers over the summer, but classifieds have gotten nothing here. And now this Tentative Agreement assures job losses for pre-K Early Childhood Development (EED) based on employees’ hours being consolidated to 7.5 per day.

Dismantling of EED? Yes. The regular work year of early education educators has been reduced from 218 days to 191 days.It was recently clarified that the Early Education summer program WILL continue to be staffed by UESF members albeit at the reduced rate of $30/hour rather than the current $39/hour. Seniority rights have been maintained only for paras who wish to work during the summer. Hiring of teachers, however, will not be based on seniority. Moreover, we do not know at which sites the summer program will be implemented. Nor do we know how many layoffs and consolidations will be caused by the elimination or part-time positions at Early Education schools.

Process? Horrible! The UESF Bargaining Team essentially went into secret negotiations over the summer and now, having just revealed the contents of this agreement there is a rush to ratify by the 1st day of school. This provides NO time for the deliberation we need to consider the impact on our work, our students and our schools.

How should we respond?
• Vote NO! on this contract and urge all your colleagues to do the same.
• Attend membership meetings on Aug. 14th or 15th and demand that UESF:
• return to the bargaining table and demand SFUSD bargain in the open.
• set a second strike vote date in September and begin preparations for a strike, NOW!

UESF members held strong and said “NO!” to cuts before, we can do it again. Tell SFUSD and our Bargaining Team (who seem to have forgotten)…” No means No.”

Check our “Find EDU” page for our August 9 meeting info.

Executive Board approves Tentative Agreement on Contract. EDU members vote NO.

    Executive Board Notes for 8.1.12

From 3 – 6:20 we reviewed the Tentative Agreement that the Bargaining Team made with the district. It was not announced that we were entering closed session. There were about 30 people there – mostly EBoard and some former EBoard members who are members of the bargaining team. I will try to summarize the major changes to the contract though I cannot go through all of them here – there are many. A copy should be mailed to you from the UESF office soon.

The agreement is for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

Furloughs – 1.5 furloughs for 2012-2013. 1.5 furloughs for 2012-2014. The last day of school will be half day furlough. June 3 will be scheduled as the third PD day and will be suspended so it counts as a furlough day.
+ : 2.5 furlough days restored, these furloughs will not impact student time in classroom
: 1.5 furlough days! Pay cuts that go along with it and the contingencies listed below.

Class size – K-3 class size is 22. All other class size language in 9.3.1 is eliminated. It is replaced with language that says class sizes will conform to state law.

An entire section was added that allows for individual classes to go “one over” the limit. Teachers who accept a “one over” class will get $1,000/year to spend on PD and materials and 2 release days/semester for planning.

+ : none
: Class sizes may increase. If this has specific impact on high school please let me know. I know district limits for 4th 5th grade and state limits have been pretty much the same. The state limits are so vague and confusing as far as I’ve even been able to understand. Basically we lost any district based protections around class size in. The goals section of the contract remains, but read that section – for example, 4th grade, goal 30 students. Terrible.

The “one-over” provisions are a clear opening for principals to play favorites, pit teachers against each other and potentially divide educators. We all get $0 for materials and 0 release days but by violating class size limits you can have extra resources that should be available to everyone.

SPED – Again, check the TA when you get it in the mail but I believe the entire staffing allocation table was eliminated from our contract and replaced with language about “state law.” The SPED class size GOALS section of the contract has been changed to match with current certifications. It has changed to list two kinds of special day classes and two class limits: mild/moderate at 8-12 and moderate/severe at 6-10. This means self contained ED classes (Do these still exist? I don’t think they do at Middle School) could rise as they were previously limited at 6-8. And these are just goals anyway.

Language changes in 31.9.1.2 so that RSPs can be asked to teach classes, small ELD groups, co-teach in gen ed inclusion model if “mutually agreed upon.”

I believe that the RSP staffing allocation was eliminated though language about “goals” is still there. Check your copy for confirmation of this when it arrives.

+ : none
– : If my understanding of this is correct the district basically got what they wanted in terms of incredible “flexibility” in class size. The staffing allocation table was eliminated and the goals language remains meaning we are at the whim of state law – i.e. we don’t have a basis to file a contract grievance around class size except for at K-3.

EED (formally CDP) – Changes to PRE-K EED program (not school aged program) – Reduction in work year from 218 to 191 days. ALL workdays changed to 7.5 hrs (plus lunch = 8 to 8.5 hours on site). No more part time positions in pre-K EED.

+ : none – some members will go from part time work to full time work but at the loss of others’ jobs
-: We were told about 200 people would be “affected.” Loss of salary would be $3-4,000 for each member. The people who will get hit the hardest are those in the 16 pilot program sites. Those folks all work 8 hours already and so all they will have the option of is a drastic salary cut or go look for a new job. Part timers will be offered full time work; others will then be laid off. The district says they will have a summer program for pre-K but won’t say what it will be.

Department Heads: Despite SFUSD’s unilateral attempt to violate our contact last year and eliminate department heads, the Bargaining Team maintained this section of our contract. This is good.

AP Preps: . The Tentative Agreement changes AP preps. Teachers with classes with 25 or more students will still get an additional prep for their AP class. If the class has fewer than 25 students, the teacher will not receive a prep but a stipend instead based on the number of tests that will be given.

+: Given that SFUSD wanted to eliminate AP preps all together it was good that we were able to protect some of them.
-: This change represents a savings of $1.8 million for SFUSD. It is a foot in the door for further erosion of the AP preps in future negotiations. Using stipends to pay for AP classes taught is a concession. Stipends don’t help teachers have the time they need to prepare adequate induction for AP courses.

Contingency – Built into the TA is language that if Prop 30 doesn’t pass class size will be immediately reopened. More furloughs will be implemented – 1 additional furlough day for each $1.79 million the district says it lost. We will have up to 6.5 furloughs this year and up to 10 furloughs next year. This contingency means that even if this contract is approved, it will not be finally settled by us but by voters in the November election.

There are other things to report about electronic paychecks, AP prep, Department Heads but the changes above are the most critical and far reaching in my estimation.

At 6:20 we finished going through the agreement. We were told we needed to be out by 6:30 and Dennis said he wanted this ratification process wrapped up by August 20th. He asked for a motion to recommend the TA. Nina and I both pleaded to slow down, that deciding this with 10 minutes left in the meeting room was ridiculous. We hadn’t even had full discussion. There were some comments during the process of going through the documents and EDU members raised a number of concerns. One other PLC member raised some serious concerns, but the comments had mostly been of a clarifying question nature. It was obvious people in the room had questions and that there had been no due diligence in terms of deliberating and seriously considering our task as representatives of 6,000 members. Nonetheless no one else picked up these calls for slowing down, we had a quorum and the TA passed 14-7 (7 EDU members voting against).

No hard argument was made from the Bargaining Team about this agreement and why we needed to accept it. It was just presented as a done deal. There were arguments during the review of the document that the district didn’t really have as much money as we thought they did and that fact finding would go badly for us if we entered it. There will be membership meetings on August 14 and August 15, but no way will they be a second strike vote. In fact, since Dennis said the process should be done by August 20, I expect that the ballots will be mailed to people’s homes with a summary of the changes prior to the meetings and that ballots will be due on August 17. That’s my guess.

In the last 5 minutes we approved some expenditures and voted to support a parcel tax for CCSF – again with absolutely no discussion whatsoever. Calls for discussion were answered with “everyone will support this.”

My opinion: It was a dreary scene but this TA so obviously deserves a NO vote. On process alone this is atrocious and we shouldn’t be supporting an agreement that even the elected leadership didn’t have time to actually consider. But beyond the process questions, we were shown there was enough money to give back all of our furlough days. No one in the system of public education can afford to watch class sizes increase. Our members asked for a second strike vote. We should have honored that request. Chicago teachers have won gains by continuing to organize and didn’t stop when the district blinked. They are continuing to push forward. We should urge our members to vote no on this TA. We should get it out to everyone we can in the next couple weeks. Flier as many sites as we can, blast the Internet, go to the 14th and 15th.