Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thoughts on Contract Renegotiation

Is this, a supportive announcement from Mulgrew regarding changes in tenure requirements, an opening (or re-opening) salvo in contract negotiations? Tenure procedures are not negotiable per se, but I do wonder if perhaps (FINALLY) some progress might be happening, somehow, on a new contract, even if that progress is solely in the minds of the negotiators. It might show that the union and the DOE can agree on something.

But I'm starting to be a little annoyed by this whole no contract situation. I don't know if Miss Eyre has been living a little too splashily lately or what, but my princely paycheck doesn't seem to be going as far as it used to, especially since Mr. Eyre and I have decided that we'd like to start a family and buy a place sometime before 2059. There are problems in schools that need to be addressed on a system-wide basis. And there are calls from all corners to widen the scope of teachers' jobs dramatically and to lengthen both school day and year. It's essential, in my opinion, that we fight for the changes we need, listen for the changes we can make, and not give anything anyway. There might be bargaining chips other than money, but far too many teachers are stretched far too thin already--emotionally, physically, financially--to yield without also insisting on some goodwill and understanding from the other side.

I don't know if Cathie Black is going to be the person to listen to us on this. I don't know if something like the Generation Schools model, about which I have long been enthusiastic, could scale up to many or all schools. I don't know how much of the benefits we teachers have enjoyed (which, truth be told, are in fact better than those of many of our friends in the private sector) can survive the current economic climate without some serious adjustments. These are questions that can't keep getting kicked down the road.

I'm not, to possibly preempt some negative commentary, suggesting that we should give up anything. I'm saying that it would be great if the union leadership would be willing to think outside the box while remaining tough and fighting for the interests of its dues-paying members.

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