Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Contract Committee

I'm on the 300-member contract committee, which meets today. I'm really quite curious how 300 people can accomplish anything of substance in a two-hour meeting, so I'm looking forward to it. There is a questionnaire out that's probably reached your email, and I'd urge you to respond.

By tonight I will know what the 300-member committee is all about, but alas I won't be able to report it. Evidently, those of us who attend are sworn to secrecy. That's why I have mixed feelings about even going. Not only will our voice be relatively small, but we will also be hugely outnumbered by people who've sworn loyalty. So whatever happens, you won't be reading about it.

I've decided to go, just like I've decided to vote every chance I get. How many people stayed home and allowed Donald Trump to become President of the United States? I don't know, but I certainly wasn't one of them. Although I chose Bernie in the primary, I voted for Hillary in the general. While I wasn't particularly enamored by her, she looked good next to Donald Trump. I offered to swap my Hillary vote with a PA friend's Jill Stein vote, but he wasn't having it.

I will tell you that I have a few personal priorities. One is class size. C4E got a ruling that we would have sizes of 25 in the high schools. In fact, I don't think this needs to be a contractual demand. Unity always argues that class size is something we give up money for. Were it up to me, I'd frame the class size argument in terms of following the order. I know it's expensive, and that it may entail hiring more teachers and finding more space. But this is a priority if we really care about kids. Let them sell Manhattan Island. They only paid $24 for it, if I recall.

Another is Part 154. Oddly, the questionnaire asked whether we wanted stronger enforcement. This is an odd question, since these ESL regulations cause students to lose services on a massive scale and where they most need them. They also will result in fewer ESL teachers being hired, and existing teachers losing positions. We don't need stronger enforcement. We need the whole thing rewritten.

Another issue is co-teaching. As far as I can tell, the way co-teachers are chosen in my school is eenie-meenie--miney--moe. Thus I have to spend a lot of time negotiation bad pairings. I once had to sit with another teacher and negotiate how to split a class in two, since the co-teachers weren't speaking to one another. I've also had mixed experiences with co-teachers myself.

Special ed. teachers are particularly hard-hit by this. They have to not only co-teach, often with multiple teachers, but also write IEPs. They need some relief.

Although a lot of people like the extra hours for grading, I'd like to see schools grade tests. It's an enormous waste of city money to pay people to grade tests that could be done for free in house. That money could go to some benefit for us, e.g., parental leave.

We also need to reduce observations to the state minimum for those who do well. We need an alternative to junk science, or throwing crapshoots and hoping for the best.

Sorry, but I have to run and teach, and therefore I have to stop. What are your priorities?
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