Monday, May 7, 2012

Seniority, Schmeniority Forces Rallying

More ink spilled for the sake of the School District being able to furlough teachers by performance measures.

A+ Schools will conduct a rally at 6:30 p.m. May 15 at Schenley Plaza to urge the district and union to agree to consider more than seniority. (P-G, Eleanor Chute)

By what mechanism do the foundations and the administration envision this fight will be won? Both slates for the upcoming union elections are falling all over themselves to uphold seniority. State law, collective bargaining law and experience argue that this will remain the case.

Water cooler chatter:

Suspicion? PPS could not comply with its match for the Gates grant and so Gates wants to get its money worth in some other way- like using Pittsburgh as a testing ground for eliminating seniority. If it is done here then it can be used as justification elsewhere. Pittsburgh with its strong labor history is probably not the best place to test this concept, though, and the whole thing will probably end up being a distraction. Seniority will remain but it will serve as a justification for lower scores. (Questioner, Pure Reform)

Since the grant came through, District leadership has changed and its ability to hold up its end of the financing of this program has fallen through. Not encouraging.

Right idea, wrong messenger. The author of the article, William Hileman, is part of the current PFT leadership. That's the leadership that that stood by as senior teachers lost their positions because they weren't picked by the secretive PRC panels. That's also the leadership that stood by as senior teachers were focused, then fired. That's also the leadership that told fired teachers that the union lawyers would not fight for them as it would "look bad" for the union.

And it's not like Hileman (or the PFT president Nina Esposito-Visgitis, for that matter) protested any of this. On the contrary. Hileman and Esposito-Visgitis ignored any teacher who raised objections about the new policies. I regret having to make what seems like a personal attack here. But it really bothers me that the PFT is now suddenly coming out in favor of seniority. Could it only be because it's election time, and they are being challenged by a strong reform slate? I suspect that is the case. And I also suspect that should the current PFT staff win reelection, it will be back to business as usual. (Moe, Pure Reform)

On that blog has been a motif to allege that present union leadership is "in cahoots" with the foundations -- as hard as that can be to believe reading headlines over the past few weeks. But that's all part of the conspiracy theory.

Meanwhile, getting real:

Poor school climates are filled with distractions and disruptions due to behavior issues and make it impossible for teachers to teach and students to learn. In a poor school climate, where District wide behavior systems (including a tiered-based system of interventions and supports) are not available, how can a teacher be expected to improve his/her practice of managing student conduct? The District (not teachers) has chosen NOT to teach students social and emotional skills and has placed all the emphasis on teaching ONLY academics even though for the past 2 years teachers overwhelmingly (28 schools) told the District, in the New teacher Survey, that managing student conduct is the #1 thing keeping them from being able to be highly effective. The reality of our PPS student population, majority low income, makes school climate the most critical factor for student achievement yet it gets the least attention. (Anon May 2 10:50)

There are so many extreme challenges -- financial, structural, cultural -- there is a temptation to urge, let's Keep It Simple Stupid. Back to basics. Instead of picking unlikely political fights and trying to revolutionize education, let's put every nickel we do have into suffusing the School District with teachers. Any teachers willing to teach here.

As opposed to putting resources into the administration of dozens of big, branded ideas which get halfway implemented before everybody moves on, up and out.

1 comment:

  1. One question. Are the administrators allowed to assign teachers to schools or is that all on seniority?