SDEA: Bargaining First, Asking Members Later (AGAIN!) with Common Core

Last week SDEA announced that our union has made a comprehensive proposal of how “we” would like to see the roll out of the CCSS affect our members.  The only problem is they made this proposal without doing ANY surveying of us as union members first.

By Shane Parmely, CTA State Council Delegate and Candidate for SDEA Board Seat Five

SDEA’s proposal contains:

  • Two new required professional development days.
  • A new “lead teacher” position, including rates of pay and a selection process.
  • Language about our work hours, including time for Professional Learning Communities and continuing current elementary prep time.

SDUSD is receiving $22 million from the state to help our District transition from the California State Standards to the Common Core State Standards during the next two years.  (But everyone really sounds more concerned about testing and how we will transition from the CSTs to the SBACs (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium).)  SDEA filed a demand to bargain letter so that we could bargain how the transition will affect us, and told Rep. Council we’d have a chance to give input — but then went ahead and made a bargaining proposal without asking members about how it will affect us.

When I first read the proposal, it didn’t seem necessarily bad.  It’s hard to tell, because we’ve received so little information about it.  But it was definitely frustrating, because SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham, who is on both the CCSS Consult Team and the CCSS Impacts and Effect Bargaining Team, has repeatedly told members that SDEA will get input from members BEFORE starting bargaining with the District.  And AGAIN, this wasn’t true.   It feels like the June 2012 TA all over again, with small group deciding for everyone based on what they think is best, and then asking the rest of us to weigh in after the deal has already been cut with the District.

How hard would it have been to ask us ahead of time? Why didn’t this get included as an input topic in the already-ongoing SDEA Bargaining Input Sessions, which are already happening anyway? Or at the very least send out a Survey Monkey? At last week’s Rep. Council, Burningham responded to these questions by stating that members could email her if they had ideas and that some already had. (Really? Were we supposed to psychically intuit that bargaining was starting and that we should email our ideas to Burningham… whose email is nowhere to be found on the SDEA website?)  She also said that they got input from members at some of the Bargaining Input Sessions.  (Again… Really? Because this topic wasn’t on the agenda for Bargaining Input Sessions at my school, even though the Breakfast Club Caucus members on the SDEA Board asked for it to be added.)

ARs also asked questions about the contents of the proposal at Rep. Council, such as, how will the two required PD days work? Will we get visiting teachers (a plan which isn’t currently working very well since there’s a shortage)? Are we canceling student attendance days? Are we adding two mandatory days onto the work year? If so, will we all get to vote to ratify the agreement since that is re-bargaining our existing contract language?

In response, SDEA Executive Director Tim Hill told us that any of those models might be possible, and that SDEA is waiting to get a counter-proposal from the District to see which one we go with. Um… so we don’t exactly know what it was we are asking for in the proposal…?

And the reason why members weren’t asked, I was told, is because SDEA doesn’t hold input sessions when bargaining impacts and effects.  Burningham cited three examples: school closures, laid-off teachers, and Standards Based Report Cards.  Except that I did a little checking. In fact, the teachers at closing schools like Bayview Terrace did get to attend a meeting to give feedback before the impacts and effects bargaining started. Laid off teachers have always been invited to attend meetings as a group to learn about their rights and discuss what they needed from SDEA.  And Standards Based Report Cards didn’t even have impacts and effects bargaining. SDEA has indeed historically asked impacted members for input before bargaining over those impacts, and there’s no reason it couldn’t have happened this time too.

It’s not like SDEA leadership wasn’t heavily encouraged to get member input before making decisions. The Breakfast Club Caucus members on the SDEA Board voted as a block against the formation of this bargaining team at the last SDEA Board meeting for this very reason: we wanted to get member input first, and then go to the bargaining table, not the other way around. We lost that SDEA Board vote 7-6, and now we’re seeing the results. By the way, these are the same people and the same bargaining team who are supposed to be bargaining our entire contract this spring.

Are you as sick of this as we are? Then VOTE in the current SDEA election, and TALK TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. We live with – or under – the Board we elect.


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