Following last night's School Board meeting, board president Kurt Miller's statement to the community regarding contract negotiations was posted to the district website, along with a detailed Q & A.
In response to what they characterised as "rhetorical attacks," the union posted a response this afternoon criticizing (among other things) the "subjective and flawed staffing policies" district negotiators are insisting must be included in the next contract.
What is a "subjective" staffing policy? (Or for that matter, those of us who have only worked in the private sector might wonder what an "objective" staffing policy might be?) Presently, when teachers are dispaced (not fired or laid off but placed in a pool to be reassigned) they must be displaced in order of seniority. This is, I guess, "objective."
Under the district's proposal, all other things being equal, the least senior teacher would be displaced. However, administrators would first evaluate teachers by the following criteria:
1. Requirements of the position;
3. Highly qualified status;
4. Appropriate Certificate;
5. Evidence of setting high expectations of learning and respecting student differences;
6. Evidence of creating and maintaining a safe and effective learning environment that supports learning for all students;
7. Demonstrating knowledge of subject content and elements of effective instruction;
8. Using ongoing assessment to reinforce and evaluate student achievement as well as planning instruction;
9. Contributing to school effectiveness through collaboration with others;
10. Promoting positive interactions with families.
As a parent, I know we all want teachers who communicate effectively with us and effectively teach our children. Would this contract language get us to that goal, or would it introduce the possibility that politics and cliquishness would influence staffing decisions? Are these criteria "subjective and flawed" or are they criteria we'd expect any employer to use? Is it worth risking a teacher's strike to push for their inclusion in the next contract?
This Monday, teachers will once again meet at Mt. Tahoma High School at 4:45 p.m. to either vote on a tentative agreement, continue working with an expired contract, or go on strike.