—By Michelle Sanchez, Garfield AR/CTA Delegate-elect
I attended an accountability session Richard Barrera at Roosevelt Middle on May 30, 2013. As SDEA members, our three main priorities at this particular session were the restoration of our pay raises and furlough days, over-excessing and our class size caps, and the District allowing Up4Ed to use District resources to collect parent data. (Up4Ed is an organization that teaches parents how to use the “parent trigger” law to convert District schools to charter schools.)
Regarding our pay restorations, Barrera would commit only to the baseline set by the June 2012 Agreement that 57% of additional unrestricted new monies goes to SDEA members in the form of our pay restorations and furloughs. He stated that we will receive the first 2% increase, retroactive to January 2013, when the monies come in from the Governor’s budget proposal. He also stated that at that point in time, the District was projecting to restore only one of our five furlough days next year. Roosevelt AR Bobbe Abts pressed harder, and he stated that the District will make good on the agreement BUT there is no scenario in which SDEA would receive full restoration by 2013-14. At this point in time the District has NO plans to fully restore our salaries by the end of the contract.
We also asked him about our healthcare, considering we are going into a bargaining year. Barrera stated that he is in support of 100% District-paid healthcare. He stated that he personally finds it appalling when employers attack employee healthcare. We need to make sure we remind him of this when we are in bargaining this upcoming year — particularly since Barrera joined with Trustee Scott Barnett to seek healthcare cuts from SDEA members for the past several years of layoffs. Barrera has asked us in writing to cap our healthcare at the Kaiser level, which is absolutely a healthcare cut.
We then discussed class size and how this impacts excessing and the post and bid process. The District is trying to use the attrition model and using the max allowable contract class size to maintain stability in the schools. He stated that the beginning of the school year always has movement, and didn’t commit to any strong action to decrease excessing or stabilize our schools. In fact, Barrera said that the District really should have issued layoffs this year, even with our pay cuts and even with Prop. 30 passing, and that using the attrition model had been a big risk. This does not bode well for us going into bargaining next year.
On the topic of fiscal reality, the Roosevelt CR expressed her feelings about the raises that Central Office administrators received and asked Barrera if he found his vote to support those raises embarrassing? Barrera stated no, and that the raises were appropriate because the District had reduced the amount of employees in these positions, and so the remaining people are taking on more responsibility. The CR replied that in her 18 years as a teacher, the District has significantly cut the number of teachers and that she too has taken on more responsibility. The only difference is that the District hasn’t given us raises. It seemed obvious to many of us in attendance that Barrera and the District’s priority is still the Central Office and not the classroom. (Note: Since the accountability session, Barrera voted on June 18 to support another Central Office increase: $725,000 worth of new admin positions! Read about it HERE.)
We ended on the topic of Up4Ed and the parent trigger law. This was shortly after the Up4Ed organization used the District infrastructure to disseminate information to parents and collect their personal data. District mail was used to send out Up4Ed fliers to parents, and the District sold Up4Ed advertising in the online Friday Notes. One teacher stated how demoralizing it is to see Up4Ed materials being distributed by the District.
Barrera stated he does not trust Up4Ed and does not support the parent trigger law. He seemed to be familiar with the connections that Up4Ed has with organizations supporting the parent trigger and the corporate education reform movement. Barrera also acknowledged the fact that Up4Ed was using an organizing tactic to gain parent information from the flier. Barrera stated he is not for this wave of corporate reform. He agreed to commit to opposing school resources to support Up4Ed . But with all this being said, why was Up4Ed able to do this in the first place?
SDEA members must make sure that we continue to hold SDUSD Board Member Richard Barrera and other Board members accountable for their words and actions. Our students deserve a full school year with educators who are compensated for their hard work.
Note: While SDEA was supposed to schedule accountability sessions with all five Board members, the meetings were not publicized to the membership, or even the SDEA Board, and no reports have been made to the membership about the contents of those meetings. A goal of the newly-elected Board members from the Breakfast Club slate is to make sure members are kept in the loop about our union’s organizing efforts and their outcome.