Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Mandatory Voluntary Meetings

In recounting the exciting adventures of a 30-year-old Boy Wonder Supervisor, I used to harp on mandatory voluntary meetings. To be a supervisor with no respect for those you supervise is to spend a lot of time thinking of ways to go around the Collective Bargaining Agreement. How inconvenient to have to allow people to go to lunch. How time-consuming to actually rate people based on their performance rather than your caprices, or what the voices in your head say.

I just got an email about a school asking people to go to a mandatory summer institute if they wish to re-apply for their jobs. After announcing it's mandatory, they later say it's voluntary. I was actually ridiculing the doubletalk I'd seen from supervisors when I wrote about Boy Wonder, but this school actually and literally used it.

I don't know if these Renewal Schools, or whatever this one is called, operate under different rules. But it appears they know they're violating hiring procedures by calling this mandatory and then stating it's voluntary. It's quite creepy when supervisors engage in deceit to get around obvious rules. But Bloomberg's spirit is alive and well in the DOE, and the folks at "legal" sit around and plot how to do just that.

My contact in this school tells me that they do teacher team meetings each and every day. I'm assuming that's what their C6 assignment is. This is another blatant violation of the CBA. Unless there's an SBO, there is a menu of tasks from which teachers can choose. If they don't get one of their first three choices, they can get another three. If they don't get one after that, they shouldn't be stuck doing whatever task they didn't want twice in a row.

I've heard of schools with little or no union presence in which this is done. If you have no chapter leader, or if the chapter leader is asleep long-term, these things can happen. If it were happening in my school, I'd file a reorganization grievance for the chapter day one and send it to an arbitrator right away. The thing about those, though, is you have only a brief window to do that. So these people may be stuck. I'm not sure, but if I were CL over there I'd make it a point to find out quickly.

I have not been a lover of rules most of my life, actually. I once knew a supervisor who called herself a "rule-follower" who was nothing of the sort. I'm not sure anyone likes rules. You can't do this or that. You can't bring your dog on the beach. You can't fall asleep in front of your classroom. No, it doesn't matter if you are tired.

Of course, principals have no more love for the rules than you do. Like everyone, they want to do what they want to do, and if you want to do something else, well, that's just not convenient. If you're the chapter leader, you're a check on that sort of thing. When the principal puts on his cowboy hat and declares your school to be the Wild West, you have to fight back.

Rules are the only things that separate us from the animals. Now don't get me wrong, I love animals. I'm sitting with my favorite one right now. Maybe I should say rules are the only things that separate us from the administrators. It's our duty to throw these rules in their faces as much as possible. My dog doesn't really love to sit on command. So I practice it with him a lot. I'm gonna do it even more if we ever have nice weather. He can learn.

Call me naive, but I think administrators can learn too. You just have to be determined. If you give up, your dog will never sit, and your administrator will never stop assigning mandatory voluntary meetings.
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