Teachers, superintendent speak out on busted contract deal

Teachers, superintendent speak out on busted contract deal

Michele Ellson

The head of Alameda’s teacher’s union is casting teachers’ decisive rejection of a tentative contract agreement as a referendum on the administration of Superintendent Kirsten Vital, while Vital is questioning why the union’s leaders would present the deal only to dismiss it as “inferior” after teachers voted it down.

“What this all boils down to is an issue of trust,” Alameda Education Association president Gray Harris wrote in a community letter explaining last week’s vote, the teachers’ first no vote on an agreement in local educators’ memory. “The teachers do not trust this administration and they do not like the direction our district is heading.”

Teachers who spoke to the Project last week cast the vote as a sign of their frustration with what they see as a lack of respect for their work, in the form of both the district’s spending priorities and policies that some said put too much power into the hands of administrators. One teacher said others are afraid to speak out against Vital for fear of retribution, while Vital said teachers who support her are afraid to speak out because they fear retribution from union leaders.

“I have supported (Vital’s) since she got here. But something’s gone wrong. And it’s got to be fixed,” said Heather Figueroa, a teacher at Ruby Bridges Elementary School. Figueroa said she doesn’t hold any one person responsible for the problems.

Vital said she’s offering the best deal she can during tough fiscal times and that under the tentative deal, salary and benefits could have been discussed again in December, after a November vote on taxes to fund education. And she said some of the district’s big spending decisions this year were prompted by parents and teachers.

“We are trying to do the best we can with the resources that we have. I think that tentative agreement demonstrates our willingness to do that,” said Vital of the deal, which district administrators said would have saved Alameda Unified a projected $586,370 through 2014. “I understand there are folks who believe it is not enough. It’s the best we can do right now.”

Union leaders have questioned why the district can’t put some of its reserves – an amount district administrators have placed at $12.8 million and union leaders, $17.5 million – into the pockets of teachers, though Vital has said the district needs the money to cover its bills due to delays in state funding.

The rejection of the agreement is the latest salvo in a heated contract war between teachers and district leaders ignited by the Board of Education’s approval in August of a new contract that gave Vital an annual 3 percent raise, full medical benefits and performance bonuses. Teachers get semiannual raises based on years of service and education, though they have complained that rising medical costs – which weren’t addressed by the deal – have eroded their salaries.

Union leaders – who handed Vital a stocking full of coal before Christmas to protest what they saw as a lack of progress in salary negotiations – asked for 3 percent raises and full medical coverage, a proposal district leaders rejected as too costly. Union leaders also asked the district to lower class sizes in kindergarten through third grade back to 20 students per teacher, something Harris said Vital told teachers she wanted to do over time. District administrators asked the state to declare an impasse over the class size issue, sending it into mediation.

The deal teachers rejected would have kept K-3 class sizes at 25 students per teacher unless the district faced a severe fiscal emergency, in which case the school board could raise class sizes to 32 students per teacher. It also offered teachers a 1 percent bonus this year, which the union said would be between $398 and $799 per teacher, and a 1.5 percent pay raise for 2012-2013 which could be extended if state funding reached a specified level.

Harris said that after failing to reach an agreement on class size and pay with the mediator, the union contacted a second mediator in an effort to settle those issues. But she said district officials showed up with a contract agreement that included collaboration, academic freedom and other issues the union hadn’t planned to discuss.

Because the issues were being discussed during the mediation process – instead of at the bargaining table – the union’s bargaining team was unable to check in with teachers to see how they felt about the provisions being discussed prior to the vote, she said.

“When the teachers did finally see the length of AUSD's demands, they decided that they could not accept the contract. The vote was a clear majority, with nearly three ‘no’ votes to every one ‘yes’ vote,” Harris wrote.

Harris couldn’t say how many of the union’s 524 members voted on the contract when a reporter asked.

In an interview, Harris said she felt the agreement was the best union negotiators could get and that she didn’t expect it to be voted down, though she said she knew elements of the agreement would be “hard to explain to the teachers.” Teachers present at a general meeting where voting took place a week and a half ago said Harris didn’t offer a recommendation on how they should vote on the contract deal, though they said reps with the California Teachers Association, the state teachers union, urged them to accept the deal (Harris said the state union supports the teachers’ vote).

A press release issued by the AEA and CTA after the vote called the agreement “inferior,” though Harris said that the release was a reflection of how teachers felt about the agreement.

Harris and teachers who spoke with a reporter said they don’t want to go on strike. But she accused the district of being unwilling to negotiate.

“I’m always hoping for an agreement,” Harris said.

Vital, who said she personally participated in the negotiations, said she was disappointed in the vote and that she wants to know why the union signed an agreement their membership wouldn’t approve. She said she understands teachers’ frustration, but that Sacramento, and not she or the school board, is the enemy.

“These are not popular recommendations that I’m making. But I have to keep this district fiscally sound,” Vital said. District officials have said the state will hold on to close to 40 percent of the money they have allocated for Alameda Unified this year until after the school year is over. A majority of the district’s budget is funded by the state.

Vital said the class size issue will continue to be addressed through mediation, while other issues will be discussed at the bargaining table. She said mediation rules allowed the two tracks to be joined in order to achieve a resolution.

“In any case, we will continue to move forward positively and respectfully on those two tracks of negotiations, always striving to compromise and reach agreement,” she wrote.

If the contract lapses without a successor in June, its mandates remain in effect until a new agreement is reached – or until the school board allows district administrators to impose their final contract offer after a fact-finding report is released through the mediation process, Harris and Vital said.

In addition to pay and class sizes, the agreement contained language allowing teachers to supplement standard teaching materials with others of their own choosing, establishing a collaboration pilot, exempting magnet and innovative school programs from seniority requirements and setting rules for the handling of complaints against teachers.

Teachers said the money offered by the district doesn’t cover the financial hit they suffered when they took five unpaid furlough days last year, or the erosion of their salaries caused by rising health care costs, though some said money wasn’t the issue guiding their vote. And one of the teachers interviewed by a reporter questioned how district administrators would implement language on complaints and other language that eliminates the need to consider seniority when staffing magnets and schools with innovative programs in place.

“They wanted validation for what they’re already doing that’s breaking the contract they already have. And they’re throwing in money as a means of bribing us,” Alameda High School math teacher Michael Lamb said.

Harris said district leaders are required to follow existing practices like one established for setting the annual school calendar but that they haven’t. She said the district’s failure to follow past practices led to teachers filing 38 grievances against the district during Vital’s reign as superintendent – compared to six in the three years prior to her taking the job.

“In the years since she was hired by the school board, our contract has been reinterpreted, and misinterpreted with a disregard of past practice,” Harris wrote in her community letter.

Teachers said they feel the district has applied its funding concerns to them only, citing Vital’s contract agreement and the district’s decision to spend money on magnets and innovative programs instead of smaller class sizes.

“The district wasn’t out there pounding the pavement. We were,” Figueroa said of efforts to pass Measure A. “We did all the work to get that done. And we’re not enjoying the benefits of that.”

Figueroa said there are other nonmonetary things district leaders could do to show they value their teachers, like making it easier for teachers’ children to attend school here.

Administrators have said that about two-thirds of the $12.2 million generated by Measure A is being spent on maintaining teachers’ existing salaries and keeping K-3 class size at 25 students per teacher, and Vital said the parcel tax has shielded Alameda Unified from layoffs, furloughs and other cuts neighboring districts are making. Class sizes are “complicated” by uncertainty around state funding for the program, Vital said. And she said teachers brought her the idea for magnets and innovative programs.

Vital said the district bargained with the union in good faith and denied claims that the district hasn’t followed past practice. And she questioned claims that she hasn’t respected teachers.

Besides the calendar issue and another raised by a reporter, “I haven’t heard the specifics of what this means. I’m willing to have a conversation (about) what does that mean, disrespect,” Vital said.

Comments

Submitted by andycurrid on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

“The district wasn’t out there pounding the pavement. We were,” Figueroa said of efforts to pass Measure A. “We did all the work to get that done. And we’re not enjoying the benefits of that.”

That is untrue. I was on the campaign committee and volunteered extensively for Measures A, E, and H. The bulk of the work on Measure A, and Measures E and H before it, was done by parents and other community volunteers. A small number of dedicated teachers also participated regularly, but there was no widespread effort from teachers to pass any of these parcel taxes. The Superintendent and other members of the AUSD administrative team helped out extensively on Measure A by fundraising, precinct walking, phone banking, and engagement with the business community.

Submitted by andycurrid on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

And as to the claim that "we're not enjoying the benefits of that", that doesn't stand up to examination. Other schools district continue to lay off teachers, furlough them, and have raised K-3 class sizes to 30 or more. In contrast, AUSD has not had widespread teacher layoffs, has held K-3 class sizes at 25, and has had no furlough days in 2011-12 - and this all possible because we passed Measure A. The bulk of the money raised by Measure A funds teachers.

Submitted by Jon Spangler on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

The alternative to passing Measure A was huge layoffs and numerous school closures. We kept a disaster from occurring thanks to hard work by many people from all over this community, as Andy Currid has commented.

Unfortunately the AEA--or at least some of its members--seem to think that AUSD , which is still on shaky financial ground because Sacramento has its collective head in a dark place, is suddenly rich. This is clearly not the case, and I am not surprised that the CTA recommended that local reachers approve the negotiated contract.

Once the unjust and outdated funding system in Sacramento is fixed and/or AUSD is on stable financial ground I will be the first one to support raises for teachers. Based on the disparity in the reserves cited here ($12.8 million versus $17 million) it sure looks to me as if members of the AEA are seeing millions of dollars where they do not--at least not quite yet-- exist.

Submitted by Jen Laird O'Rafferty on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

I can't let the erroneous statement by Mr. Figueroa pass: "The district wasn’t out there pounding the pavement. We were. We did all the work to get that done."

As parent and community member, I volunteered heavily for Measures H, E, and A. For the last two I served a school captain, meaning I recruited and managed a team of 30 turf captains from our school. All were parents. I reduced my hours (and therefore pay) at my job by 25% for months during each of the E and A campaigns to be able to do my parcel tax campaign volunteer work as well I thought it needed to be done. I certainly was not alone in dedicating what felt like my life to the campaigns. Our turf captains (again, all parents) spent months working on each campaign, spending time EVERY week covering their turfs door-to-door and by phone, and helping with "tabling" outside of our school twice a week and with fundraising events. We were very visible at school. Teachers came to US to ask how the campaign was going, where they could get a shirt, and thank us time and time again for our work. A few did volunteers once or twice. I think AEA asked each teacher to phone bank at least once during the A campaign. At my school that definitely didn't happen and I know because I was helping the teachers coordinate their time. I wasn't upset that the parcel tax volunteer work was largely being carried by non-teachers. I didn't see it as their responsibly. I saw it as a responsibly of our whole community. We all needed to step up.

As a major volunteer I can tell you Ms. Vital and others on her staff were very involved. They offered to and did come to many meetings to talk about the parcel taxes. There were rules about in what capacity they could do that. If it was an advocacy or fundraising meeting, they came on their own time (e.g., on weekends). If it was strictly information about what the parcel tax would fund, I think they could come in their official capacity (but those were also essentially on their own time as they were evening meetings). As someone giving a lot of time to the campaigns, I felt the district leadership was very involved. From my perspective, more involved than the teachers, but again, I wasn't upset about it. However, I can't let Mr. Figueroa's comment go. It's just so clearly wrong. His statement about "we're not enjoying the benefits of that” is also incorrect, as the other commentators above have pointed out.

I am very concerned about the breakdown in relations between the district and teachers. As someone who was raised by a single mom who was a (fabulous) CA public school teacher and the sole source of financial support for my twin and me, I have tremendous respect and appreciation for the teaching profession. I want our society to value the profession much more than it does. I want our district to pay our teachers as much as it possibly can and still be fiscally responsible. I hope the contract process is resolved very soon, although it's not clear that is possible given that the TA was voted down.

Submitted by Mark Irons on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

I don't know the number of the 550 plus teachers who helped on the parcel tax, but it occurs to me that of the parents available to volunteer among the 17% of households with school aged kids, the proportions may be similar even though numbers of parent activists who worked on the campaign may be a much larger number than the total number of teachers who did likewise.

Speaking for one household, the parent and parent teachers here did plenty of hours walking and phoning on all the campaigns and my teacher spouse always had company from teachers at AUSD while phone banking.

I understand the irritation with careless statements, but all in all I think people from both groups may have a somewhat inflated view of what one or the other group did, because they know personally they gave it their all. But arguing over this ends up being a bit of a dead end at some point.

As to the time administrators put it, IT'S THEIR JOB. Meanwhile teachers voluntarily cooperated in the furlough because they thought the budget demanded it, which it is not now clear it did, and as an act of good will to the community to help grease the skids for the parcel tax. Conversely Ms. Vital took her first raise right in the middle of the Measure E campaign. I don't think it cost the votes by which E failed, but it was writing on the wall. It's also not abundantly clear the furlough was necessary. The hit to teachers was $1.5 and for all employees the savings to the district was $2.5. In these economic times a 20% surplus is not "absurd" as one teacher commented on a blog, but it doesn't seem inconceivable that with passage of the parcel tax a larger portion of the furlough amount could be restored, especially in lieu of the percent increase in health care which almost overwhelms the entire amount in the offer rejected. Previously my only points about money is that teachers are raw about it but this is the first time I have made any specific intimation or speculated about the money in these negotiations because bottom line is that decision must be between the teachers and district. I don't think many teachers think AUSD is "suddenly rich" as Jon Spangler speculates. I can't imagine any of them ever expected 3% plus full health either. I think they are simply pissed off at inequities and find it hard to bite the bullet when they feel the have an increasingly hostile work environment and are having their rights eroded at the same time. From above: "Harris said that after failing to reach an agreement on class size and pay with the mediator, the union contacted a second mediator in an effort to settle those issues. But she said district officials showed up with a contract agreement that included collaboration, academic freedom and other issues the union hadn’t planned to discuss. "

Submitted by barbara kahn on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

The superintendent works for the board. The board gave her the raise that has proven to be tone deaf to the community and the district. . It is the same board that is proffering this contract . The board represents the community. and a majority of the board (three members, Spencer, Tam and Mooney) stand for election in November. If there is turmoil in the district swirling around the superintendent, it is only the board that can deal with it.

Submitted by Jen Laird O'Rafferty on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

Mark, your point about a lot of parents not volunteering for the parcel tax campaign is well taken. As you say, the % of parents who volunteered may be comparable to the % of teachers who volunteered. Who knows. What I do know is that the teachers didn't remotely "do it all," nor should they have. I disagree with you that it was the district staff's job to do all that they did for the parcel tax campaigns. I think they could have done a lot less and still have been doing "their job." I think they went above and beyond, as did many parents, teachers and other community members. We did it together.

I understand how a 3% raise for Ms. Vital stings compared to a 1.5% raise for teachers. What I'm not clear about is whether and how step-and-column increases also fit in here. What % of teachers will effectively have a 3% raise when you factor in both a 1.5% raise and the step-and column increases? Are the step-and-column increases for teachers still in effect? Beyond Ms. Vital's 3% raise, does she also get step-and-column raises?

I had heard that Ms. Vital didn't have any health care benefits her first years in on job, due to an error in her contract. The position was advertized as including health benefits, but then none were given. So this new contract for 3 years gave her full benefits to equal out the fact that she was given none for three years, and that the intention is that if her contract is renewed after 3 years, the benefits coverage would be dropped back to something comparable to what teachers are given. Anyone know if what I heard (or I should say what I remember hearing) is correct? If teachers were given NO health benefits for 3 years they'd be up in arms, as well they should be.

Increasing health care costs are hurting a lot of people. The premiums for the the plans offered by my employer have been going up each year and my employer has not been able to absorb those increases either, they're coming out of my paycheck too.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

Hey folks,

A few things I can weigh in on here:

@Jen: You are correct, the superintendent's position was advertised as having full medical and she didn't receive those in her first few years. My memory of the meeting where her contract was approved was that this offer in her current contract was intended to correct that oversight. Let me see what more I can get on the step and column (and if anyone can speak more authoritatively on this that I can at the moment, please feel free to weigh in).

@Jon: Since I'm up here I thought I'd mention to everyone the etymology of the $17 million number. This was the district's general fund balance plus restricted reserve at the end of 2010-11 per their unaudited actuals; it's a number that was offered by CTA (but one that has been disputed by the district's chief business officer).

Submitted by Jen Laird O'Rafferty on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

I remembered a very helpful post from Susan Davis on In Alameda months ago. (I miss her and other's posts there). Susan's definitions of the various increases were vetted by both the district and AEA. I'm grateful she took the time to research this, and that the district and AEA both helped her do so.
http://blog.sfgate.com/inalameda/2011/12/08/a-raise-is-a-raise-is-a-rais...

Submitted by Alameda Educati... on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

Michele, I would like to clarify that the Superintendent's original job posting did not say full medical benefits. That job posting can be seen here: http://www.csba.org/Services/Services/GovernanceServices/ExecutiveSearch...

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

Thanks to AEA and Jen for the links!

Submitted by Mark Irons on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

Jen, I truly appreciate this exchange.

Administrators may have gone above and beyond on parcel tax, but my point is that they get the big bucks to step up as a matter of course, and as far as "reaching out to the business community", that is definitely expected of CEO at part of basic job description, even if it's not a daily activity. ESPECIALLY if it's not a daily activity.

On health, the point is that the premiums are the same no matter the size of income income. I had also heard the idea that after three years Vital's health cost would be offset similar to teachers, but I only heard that as a suggestion of what would be fair. It might have been good to have written it into her current arrangement. Interesting to see how that goes.

As far as raises, it is not just % but percentage of what? 1.5 % of $65,000 is $960. 3% of $200,000 is $6000. Vital was paying $17K for out of pocket for health. The increase for our health this year was almost $200 monthly, but we now get FULL health through the private sector. the 1.5% in the teacher offer was contingent on state, not guaranteed, unlike Vital's 3% compounded annually for three years.

Yes, a raise is a raise, but the steps teachers get do not occur every year at every stage of their slow upward progression and the thing which in my opinion differentiates teacher steps from CEO raises, is that the whole system is in recognition that starting salaries are substandard for professional skill set. Vital has much more responsibility and must have a wide skill set which is good cause for CEO pay, but she agreed to come to a district with depressed wage scale for all employees, just as teachers do, but the $190,000 she was getting is not like the $42,000 for a starting teacher. I didn't think it was so great for Ms. Vital to couch her raise as eqivalent to teacher step. In defending it she didn't use average teacher step of less than 3%, but cited a range with top end being the extremely unusual 7% which was a step AND column shift received by one teacher. That action by Vital is far more bothersome to me than a few teachers complaining "we're not enjoying the benefits" of Measure A. I'd actually like to ask Heather, specifically how it is she feels that way since certain benefits of Measure A are more or less irrefutable. Would adding "enough of" make any difference?

As I stated on Patch, Vital orchestrating her raise early before her contract was up and before school was in session was very bothersome as was the BOE rubber stamp at a time of year many parents are still vacationing. What compounds my frustration over that is how a number of parents I talked with expressed absolutely no problem with the raise, but expected that in trade for Measure A having passed and prevented layoffs and furloughs, teachers should quietly bite the bullet, "suck it up". That attitude belied a certain lack of empathy and frankly a lack of common sense about human nature. No matter what those parents thought teachers should do, they should have known better than to immediately attack teachers when they predictably protested their bosses raise. Instead we have systemic polarization.

Submitted by Jon Spangler on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

Mark is correct--the polarization is deadly and needs to be softened/reduced/ended.

As I recall Superintendent Vital's raise--which, deserved or not, seemed tone-deaf at best--was NOT "rubber-stamped." At least Mike McMahon opposed it, as I recall (and recall hearing from him).

Am I correct that the unaudited $17 M reserve figure is less accurate and less trustworthy than the later $12.8 M reserve number from the mid-year adjustment?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

Hey Jon,

On the superintendent's contract, both Mike McMahon and Trish Spencer voted against it. And as to the numbers, I may just have to hunt down an expert to speak to those (though I can say that the district's chief business officer, Robert Shemwell, has said he believes the latter figure is a more accurate reflection of the district's finances).

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

And one thing I should add, and I promise that I'm not being flip when I say this, is that school finance in California is complicated. The district's interim reports for I think at least the past few years have shown budget deficits that were rectified at the end of the year, not due to any hijinks on the part of the district but I think due to the twisted pathways the district's funding follows as it makes its way in particular from the state to us. For example, CBO Shemwell has reported to the school board that the district doesn't expect to see nearly 40 percent of its state funding until after the school year ends, which he has said means they have to borrow money from elsewhere in order to cover bills and make payroll. As I have understood it, the district has borrowed from its restricted funds (and it has two main pots of money - unrestricted for general educational expenses and restricted for specific programs) to cover general expenses because it has the money available there, but it has to repay those funds into its restricted accounts something like 30 days after it closes its books on June 30. Ostensibly the district would get the rest of the general-purposes state funding it has traditionally gotten sooner in the year by then, allowing administrators to replace the money taken from the restricted pool. Which, by the way, isn't completely restricted in the sense that it has traditionally been because the state has allowed districts to "flex" these dollars and appears to be willing to continue to do so through 2015. And restricted pots of money can have carryover funds available after the district's books are closed, as we saw earlier this year when the district used restricted money it had left over from last year to purchase textbooks. All that is to say that I can certainly see how there would be different views on how much money the district has - and that yours was a good question worthy of more research.

Submitted by Sylvia Gibson on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

Michele-- thank you for the well written article!

I am an AUSD teacher and I phone banked for measure A side-by-side with the assistant superintedent and parents. We all worked together. We all want Alameda schools to be well funded and to provide excellent educational experiences.

Like Jen, I was raised by public school teachers. My parents were able to buy not only a house, but also a rental property in Alameda (on teachers' salaries!). This is not possible today. Should the decision to become a teacher in 2012 preclude people from earning a salary that provides financial security? Maybe.

Finally, there were parts of the TA that stole dignity from teachers without providing any fiscal benefit. For example, under the proposed agreement teachers could receive poor evalutions based on "anonymous" complaints.

Submitted by Page Barnes on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

@sylviagibson,

Under the EXISTING contract, teachers can receive poor evaluations based on anonymous complaints even if the complaints are minor. Under the proposed tenative agreement, anonymous complaints that were not significant would not be investigated. So the Tentative Agreement actually gave teachers GREATER protections than the current agreement. Surely, you're not arguing that anonymous complaints cannot, under any circumstances, be used in evaluating teachers. There are legitimate and compelling reasons why people should be permitted to make anonymous complaints. For example, students may not report sexual abuse or threats of retaliation if the complaint cannot be made anonymously, meaning that predatory conduct may go unaddressed.

Submitted by figueroah on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

I'd like to clarify the comments I was quoted as saying in the article. I did infact say WE were the ones pounding the pavement for Measure A. I was referring (though I admit not clearly through my comments) to a collective WE of teachers, community members, parents. I did in fact mean to separate the district from that because in the meetings and efforts that I specifically attended, I did not see a strong showing from the district. I, being a full time teacher and Mom, did not attend every meeting or gathering, so my remarks on that may have been wrong and I apologize for that. I did witness several community members, active and retired teachers and parents involved in the efforts. That was the we I spoke of. However, what I still stand by and won't apologize for is the comment that we are not seeing the benefits of the passing of Measure A. In the eyes of a non teacher, when comparing our situation to that of other districts who are not getting massive layoffs and are increasing class sizes, it may appear that we are in fact benefitting. However, in the eyes of a teacher in AUSD, we continue to be given more and more to do, with less and less to do it with. Yes, we do need to see both sides and work together for an agreement, and no, money is not the only issue here. What I did say in the interview that was not quoted, was that this all boils down to respect and feeling valued as a teacher for all that we do. I understand that there are struggles on all ends of this collaborative effort of education, but ultimately, teachers are the ones at the front lines, educating our future leaders.

Submitted by andycurrid on Thu, Apr 12, 2012

Heather, I do not understand how you can be in a profession that has seen massive funding cuts for many years now, see colleagues in other districts laid off or furloughed, and yet maintain that you are not seeing the benefits of passing Measure A. Do you not think having a job and more money rather than less are a benefit? I'm not suggesting that as a teacher you should be quiet and happy about the current state of teacher pay, but to say Measure A doesn't benefit you is stretching credibility.

What specifically does "respect" and "being valued' equate to for you?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Apr 12, 2012

Hey folks,

I want to step in here to say thank you for what has largely been a civil and thoughtful debate and to say that I'm hopeful we can continue to discuss what I understand is a very hot button issue in a respectful tone and with an open mind.

On the theme of respect, the issue outlined by Heather is one I have heard teachers voice at school board meetings often over the past several months, and I'd love to ask any teachers who are reading this and are willing to weigh in here if you could offer some examples that you feel illustrate the lack of respect teachers have said they are experiencing and what might be done to address those issues, through the contract or otherwise. I'd also be interested in getting some examples of how teachers are doing more with less and how those might be address (assuming here that class size is a big one).

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