Comments Received from Alameda Regarding Negotiations between AUSD and AEA
For background, you can visit the following sites:
Posted in reverse order of date received
NOTE: Some those designated as "teacher" are also part of AEA leadership and/or negotiations team.
May 26 - Parent
As parents of xxxx Elementary School, we expect AUSD to honor the intentions of Measure A by providing working conditions and benefits that, in fact, do attract and retain quality teachers in Alameda.
May 26 - Parent
As the parent of a student attending school in the Alameda Unified School District, I encourage you to honor the intentions of "Measure A" by providing working conditions and benefits that, in fact, do attract and retain quality teachers in Alameda.
May 25 - Teacher(Presented at May 25th BOE meeting)
I have already addressed this body regarding the numerous, essential tasks that teachers perform during their prep periods that spill over into lunch time, after school, before school, evenings and weekends. I would like to widen the discussion a little tonight and put the issue of “unencumbered prep periods” and the “seven-hour-onsite-day” into perspective.
Let’s suppose for a moment that AEA agreed to an eight-hour onsite day. The logical extension of that would be to then pay overtime, for every additional hour spent on school business. I am sure that my colleagues would be delighted if told that they would be paid for every hour they spent over and above 8 hours a day on school work or activities. Our fellow government employees such as police and firefighters are all paid overtime when they work beyond the specifications in their contract. Why not teachers? An eight-hour day sounds wonderful, not to mention the overtime pay! Imagine evenings and weekends free of correcting papers, and lesson planning, and doing grades; how fantastic that would be! Imagine being paid to work at night and on weekends. Our families would thank you, too! AEA really should think over the district’s demand for an eight-hour onsite day. Fortunately, for the district however, teachers think of themselves as salaried professionals, who work however long it takes to do what has to be done.
There is another perspective I would like to offer for you to think about. Teachers are not compensated for their time when attending professional conferences, workshops, taking university courses in their credentialed area or to add certifications to their existing credential. This even applies to required certifications. For example, the CLAD certificate in multicultural communication and methodology is a state requirement for all teachers to have by 2005. It consists of four courses, each a week long, at the cost of over $2000.00. Not only are teachers, unlike most other employees, not compensated for their time, they have to pay for their own training!
What does this have to do with our current contract talks? If we are to be treated like employees who punch a time card, then we should be compensated for every additional hour we spend on school work, including professional training. Yet, this is not what we are asking. Instead, we are asking for a reasonable increase in medical benefits, contract language that maintains current practice regarding our professional day and keeps it teacher-directed and student-centered, and sick-leave days renamed “personal leave days”. Not one of these proposals is unreasonable. What they really come down to is fairness and respect.
Thank you for your open-minded consideration.
May 24 - Parent
I am one of xxxx's school parents. I hate to see our hard working, nice, qualifying teachers suffer with reduced benefits and no permanent contract for their work. Since Measure A was passed, we all expect that the $ would be given back to our district. What happened? Please give the teachers what they deserve.
Editor Note:Please review Measure A expenditures for additional information.
May 21 - Parent
My son is currently attending xxxx and is in the third grade and I must say that he is always ecstatic about going to school and greatly enjoys his teachers. I feel that the teachers provide a great environment for the students to learn and understand that takes a person(s) of great quality. What I'm saying is that we should treat our teachers and they do our children in honoring their requests for competitive salaries with competitive health benefits and self directed prep time. Reason being is that if we don't we are likely to lose the very people who have a great influence on the environment our children are subjected to when in school. Last but not least I EXPECT AUSD TO HONOR THE INTENTIONS OF MEASURE A.
Editor Note:Please review Measure A expenditures for additional information.
May 21 - Parent
It gets more dismaying by the day that we treat our teachers so poorly, that we no longer care enough about our children's futures to provide them with a quality education. As other countries in the world, even so-called third world countries, begin to surpass the United States in educating their people, our education standards are actually declining. Teachers in this area just cannot live on the salaries we pay them and this is a crime. If this trend continues, our children won't be able to say they live in the most advanced nation in the world or the nation with one of the highest standards of living because it just won't be true.
I urge you to do everything in your power to resolve the issues facing the teachers in Alameda. It has come to the point where they won't take the time to discuss our children's progress with us, and I don't blame them.
May 14 - Parent
My husband and I would like to offer the strongest possible support to Alameda teachers, especially the teachers of xxxx Elementary School who we consider the VERY BEST. Our daughter has completed her work in this school and our son is currently in first grade; therefore the continuation of the current superior quality of education in Alameda is of vital importance to us.
Obtaining the best education possible for our two children has always been of primary importance to us. After careful research, we moved to Alameda 12 years ago so our children could benefit from the superior schooling available here. Although housing is almost prohibitively expensive for us and living in Alameda is somewhat inconvenient, to say nothing of the commute every day (we both work in San Francisco), we have gladly made these sacrifices to ensure the best possible education for our children.
We are outraged that these wonderful teachers have been working without a contract for almost a year now, and that they have inadequate and overly expensive health care insurance, and are forced to fight to keep their prep time self-directed. These dedicated individuals are playing a major role in sculpting and guiding young minds, in challenging and directing children who will, as adults, surely be the leadership of tomorrow. In these uncertain and troubling times, this is a great responsibility -- one that should not be taken lightly or attempted by anything but the best of the best.
We urge you to immediately address these issues and ensure our teachers the support and security they need and deserve, in turn enabling them to continue presenting our children with the best education possible.
Thank you for your consideration.
May 13 - Parent
Nothing like a dose of the "real" world - are any AEA members listening?
Editor Note:Response to reading the headlines of the week.
May 13 - Parent
I'm glad to see that the connection between laying off the same folks that are asking the district for more that what is affordable is sinking in throughout the education community across the state.
With strong leadership hopefully it won't happen here in Alameda.
I almost want signs that say "Support Your Kid's Teacher in Alameda, Save Them From The (shortsighted and bitter) AEA."
Can't get blood from a rock. Can't rob a bank for money.
Editor Note:Response to reading the headlines of the week.
May 12 - Parent
I strongly support Alameda teachers' need for a fair contract, and for health care contributions, and the ability to keep their prep time self-directed. Please support our community by supporting our teachers.
May 6 - Parent
Please explain Work to Rule.
Editor Note:In response to AEA announcement indicating that a number of sites were "working to rule", this parent is asking what it means. "Work to Rule" is a shorthand way of saying that the teachers are going to do the bare minimum required by the collective bargaining agreement and law. They will not do anything that is not clearly and unambiguously stated in the contract. This job action is intended to make parents/administrators aware of all extra work teachers perform above and beyond their contractual obligations.
April 30 - Parent
Have you ever looked up the California Lottery on the Net? Its very interesting.
As you may know (quote) the California Lottery was created to generate supplemental funding for our public schools. Out of every dollar spent, .34 is returned to the "classroom". According to the report I received, "...on average 77% of Lottery funds are spent on salaries and benefits for instructors, ..." Maybe you don't find this very impressive but I do, we're rolling in cash but it all, well most anyway, goes to pay what are very good wages and benefits. So now we have the money from the States general fund, about a billion $ from the Lottery, and, now, parcel tax and the state teacher's union still isn't satisfied.
April 30 - Teacher
Have you seen Ed-Data website? Seems AUSD receives more $$/student than State Average. And where is the money for the Bond Issue that passed to support Teachers and supplies. Ed-Data shows that Books/supplies are 25% less than State Average. Where's the money?
Editor Note:I have compiled the data for the last ten years from Ed Data and it is available for review by the public. From my perspective it shows that the District has made steady progress in spending ever increasing amounts of its budget on teachers and benefits despite having one of the the lowest $$/students in the Alameda county. As for the monies passed by the voters for Measure A, you can review this
April 8 - Teacher
Thanks for responding. How do we, the public, know that you are doing all possible to resolve the issues at hand? Also, AEA has filed 4 Unfair Labor Practices against AUSD. Are those unjust actions done by the Superintendent, Chief Financial Officer, et al under direction of the whole board, too? If not, these are other issues to rectify. Bottom line, it's all a matter of common courtesy and we teachers make this district look darn good.
Editor Note:As of April 8th I do not know if AEA has filed any unfair labor complaints against the District. The only information I am aware of regarding a potential unfair labor complaint comes from a March 18th teacher rally.
April 7 - Teacher
I am a bit confused by your (Mike McMahon) behavior last night at the board meeting when Mary Butler was speaking. When she spoke about feeling angry and insulted you not only rolled your eyes, but you also shook your head in a "whatever" kind of way. This type of negative body language shows us that you don't care about hearing both sides. It's also shows your lack of professionalism and tact. The teacher's sitting with me also noticed this. What message am I supposed to share with my colleagues when they ask about where the board members stand with the negotiations? Let's remember you wanted this position and were elected for it.
April 6 - Teacher
I don't appreciate your pat political answer. What are you, Mike McMahon going to do to be sure that the negotiations move smoothly, swiftly and fairly? The district has stalled too long. It's downright rude. Remember, you are nothing without the teachers. Thanks, (P.S. I'm a teacher in this district at xxxxxx as well as a tax-payer.)
Editor Note:Please be aware as a single Board Member I can not and will not make any statements about the what I am going to do individually regarding negotiations. Our actions as Board, represent the entire Board, not the individual desires of one Board member.
April 5 - Teacher
The news over the weekend that there are 22 school districts in the Bay Area that are nearing financial disaster certainly makes all of us nervous, and with the uncertainty about future funding it is clear that these are not great times for education. And so here we are in Alameda, fighting over a contract. As much as I am concerned over financial issues, I write to you today about morale and the rest of this school year.
As I said in an earlier email, I recognize the complexity of the money issues and do not expect them to be solved without mediation. But the other issues, the ones we see as being about respect, do not involve money and need to be settled before the school year ends. I think it would even be nice to have some sort of positive news as we head into spring break and the state testing that follows. I think that the morale of the teachers, which is connected to the labor strife, does affect the energy we bring to the classroom and that energy can affect the important test scores. Is there no compromise language that can be worked out with respect to teacher prep periods? Do we not now have language about faculty meetings built into the teacher contract? That seems helpful as it defines the amount of time we are required to spend beyond the school day. Can't we use similar language about prep periods? And as for the "professional day," again, can't we find some compromise language? I urge the board to direct the Superintendent to move the negotiators forward, soon. My greatest fear is that this will not happen, and then the year will end without any sort of contract, making it more inviting for our newest teachers (and maybe some of the oldest too)to begin to look elsewhere. We worked hard to get and maintain our teachers before, don't let them slip away under an atmosphere of uncertainty.
April 2 - Teacher
Please do all that you can to direct your negotiating team to do all that they can to negotiate as fairly and as courteously as possible. Time is of the essence. AUSD expects the best from their teachers and gets it. We expect the same from you. AUSD is nothing without its teachers. Don't give 100% of your attention to the Superintendent and Chief Financial Officeer. Devote fair and equal time to the union's consultants, as well. As a tax-paying voter in Alameda, I expect you to hear both sides. AUSD is nothing without its teachers. During the Superintendent's tenure, can you name one positive thing the Superintendent has done for teachers that didn't require an 11th hour decision? You can't, because it doesn't exist. AUSD is nothing without it's teachers.
March 23 - Teacher
While the Board was not responsible for the Superintendent's letter to the AUSD community, I wanted to share with you my response to that letter. I appreciate the Superintendent's attmept at being informative, factual and earnest, but as a teacher in this district, I was offended by two things implied in the letter.
In discussing the topic of the "unencumbered prep," an issue that I recognize as being complicated, the Superintendent set out what he thought that time should be used for (working with other teachers, and students, communicating with parents). Inadvertently or not, what he implied was that we teachers do not now, nor want to later, use that time for that purpose. That is, of course, ridiculous. We spend our prep time, our time before and after school, and our time at lunch, doing exactly that, and more even. Not to mention our time in the evening that we spend grading papers, calling parents, etc. I felt insulted by that way the Superintendent shaped that comment.
With the respect to the monetary issues, the Superintendent's language depicted the AEA as being ignorant of the economic facts, willing to put the district at risk for disaster, and himself and you the Board as the ones looking out for the students in the district. Again, the language was harsh and demeaning to the AEA, which is to say, to me. i know the money is a complex issue, but to be blunt about it, it is easy for the Superintendent to wrap himself up in the budget and say we must hold the line, for my guess is that he has not had to suffer a cut in pay due to the increased health care costs. I work harder, have more students, and take home less of my paycheck, and yet I was portrayed in the letter as being lazy(prep time), selfish(budget) and ignorant(budget). Here is a crazy thought: if the Superintendent wants to demonstrate bold leadership through these troubled times, why not take about $5,000 from his annual pay and kick that into the general fund, or towards our health care costs, as a gesture of sympathy and comradeship. Or here is an even bolder idea: how about, until things get better, he choose to accept a salary no higher than the highest teacher salary. Imagine the good will, and fiscal value, of such a choice. If we are all in this together, how about we all get together on this.
March 19 - Teacher
I certainly hope that the School Board will begin to work together with the teachers to resolve ANY differences. This is becoming a tremendous waste of energy and money! AEA settled the calendar and worked on the campaign......your unwillingness to move forward NOW is a slap in the face.
March 18 - Teacher
Just some of my thoughts on the negotiations. I have not seen the actual written proposals from the district or AEA, but I think this is more a matter of trust then anything else. We all know that there will be addtional monies coming to the district, but how the funds will be used [within the limitations of the purpose of the funds] will be reflected in a revised budget. It will not be all that AEA is proposing [this is the nature of negotiations] but there is room for compromise.
Prep-Time: Many believe that the Superintendetn and other administrators do not want to keep the status quo, but rather be able to assign tasks during prep time. The idea from the district that it will cost $1,000,000 is plain stupid. Baically what the teachers want is maintaining the status quo also. Most teachers already will use prep time to meet with the principal or other collegues, attend I.E.P.s etc. I believe the administration will move tasks typically done on a time-card or with substitutes will be assigned during prep time. Below is an example of this attempt.
The Language Aquistion Scales test is given to ELD students. Past practice has been hourly pay or bringing in subs for teachers to score the test. This test was replaced by the California English Language Development test. The ELD administrators kept the writing part of the test and paid the associated costs of administering and scoring the test. This year the directions given to teachers stated that teachers would score the test [compensation was not mentioned]. When asked about the compensation teachers were told there would be no compensation. Teachers at AHS did not score the test. Subsequently, the test is not being scored. It is obvious that any information the test provides is of no importance. If the administration finds value in an activity, it must then prioritize the activity and pay the associated costs. Does the administration value the test? I think not. Here a confrontation with teachers could have been easily avoided. I believe there is a lack of respect for teacher by this administration and actions such as this make the disrespect very overt.
Work Day: The 7 hour day has been in practice at least since I came to Alameda 12 years ago. Though contract language calls this a "Professional Day" it has been the practice that non-teaching duties after school would be compensated.[There are activiites defined in the contract that teachers must attend.] This was the practice last year with the math teachers' meetings after school, but could not be maintained. The Strategic Plan calls for collaboration time. I get the impression the administration wants to add this time to the work day and not work toward restructuring the school day to accomodate this. Again, I would not trust this administration to continue the past practices without further defining the school day in the contract. I believe in the value of collaboration time, but there has to be agreed upon implementation.
Health Care: If fully paid health care is good enough for the administrators, then it is good enough for teachers and other employees.
Salary Increases: There can be at least the COLA amount; and still be fiscally prudent.
The bottom line is that there is little trust between the teachers and administrators. I also do not believe the current leadership has the desire or the ability to correct this. It does not foster cooperation. There is a point of compromise in the negotiating process but there must be good-faith negotiations on both sides. Yes it is wise to be fiscally prudent, but the actions of this administation, such as being unprepared for negotiation sessions, does not reflect this.
Thanks for the chance to express my views.
March 16 - Teacher
Does the board work for Superintendent or does he work for the board? Does the board approve what Superintendent says??? I find it difficult to believe that you and the other board members are updated with the negotiations and why is it that the district's team can't make any decisions? Who is in charge? Who is directing this team? Why isn't the head person making sure his team is ready and prepared? I know some items have been thrown out by the distict like waiving our right to strike and not having a locked cabinet/closet....but why were these even brought up? I am speaking of the Dec 16th mtg. Why is it that when the district has something like this that Public Information Officer publicizes it as article # instead of what was actually said? It seems there is a lot of miscommunication between the superintendent and the board. I find it funny that this was the same issue with the last district he was let go from... humpfh
March 15 - Teacher
Should we be fooled by the dirstrict's claims? I am sure both sides are skewing the truth to support thier positions. At least the union has been willing to bargin in good faith. I get the impression that the current administration is just playing games. If the administration cannot even negotiate in a professional manner, I doubt any information coming from their offices can be trusted.
Teachers make good schools, even with bad administration. If you are interested in good schools, please do not act like the adminstrators in Alameda.
March 15 - Parent
Why are these teachers so misinformed??? Measure C clearly stated that the monies could only be used as stated—other uses being illegal! Why is this teacher union so very powerful? They are basically in charge of our calendar and many other items that should not be there’s to control….
March 15 - Parent
Why not work to change this law, now that Measure C has passed. Partion off the developer fees or something to give the teachers something.
March 15 - Parent
As a precinct walker for Measure A and C I did it for the kids not for the union.
Any teacher that took a job at AUSD thinking anything other than the fact that AUSD has amoung the lowest Base Revenue Limits in the area should have their head examined.
March 14 - Teacher
I corrected the AEA president on this presentation a week ago Friday at xxxxx School. I explained to her that the district made this mistake with the buy-outs on the original bond measure and it cost us dearly. I also explained that the "watch dog" group would make sure the monies were spent as directed by the voters. Please let me know if she is continuing to mis-inform or if, when presented with the facts, she changed her presentation.
March 14 - Parent
For years this district has maintained its solvency on the backs of the employees. The community has never felt the pain. Maybe we should talk about cutting athletics in order to support teachers. Miracle of miracles we passed a lousy 109 dollar parcel tax--to attract and hold good teachers among other things.
Just as the administration has taken a hard line position, so are the teachers taking a hard line, and absent decent and trusted leadership and community building everyone will stay stuck in their places, and the losers, the kids.
March 13 - Teacher
Your e-mail certainly reveals a lot. First of all your tone is far less than neutral or collegial; it is biting and I wonder why.
AEA has never proposed using Measure C funds for day-to-day operations. AEA endorsed both Measures C and A; we know those things for which these funds may be used and those for which they may not. Why are you implying we propose to use government money illegally?
You write as if teachers are spendthrifts and the district is the only party trying to cut costs. Hello? As much as many of us have seen the educational advantages of a year round calendar which served 20% of AUSD students, we teachers voted for one traditional calendar so as to save, the district said, $187,000. We agreed to begin school after Labor Day because the district says it saves $54,000 or $153,000? Alameda teachers have repeatedly given up a lot over the years, at times to the detriment of their families, to make up for the over-spending by the district and board.
CTA and AEA endorsed and campaigned heavily for props 55, 57, and 58. Hello?
As for the state deficit, how many millions are due to Schwartzenegger's rescinding Davis's restoration of the vehicle registraion fee to the rates we had before the 90s' boom? Furthermore, Davis was not responsible for the Silicon Valley crash and consequent dive in personal income tax revenue. The tax structure, legislation, the financing of public services, world/USA/state/Bay Area economics are far more complex, intertwined and causal of our financial problems than your remarks would have a reader believe.
Response: In a March 12 AEA flyer under the title THE DISTRICT HAS MONEY! the following two paragraphs appear:
The District will be receiving approximately $63,000,000 from the Bond that was passed on Tuesday, March 2, Prop 55 will provide $15,279,526 and Measure A monies equal $1,800,000.
The District has the funds to offer us full medical coverage, a 3.28 percent raise, self-directed preparation periods, and a return to a 7-hour day. It is a matter of prioritizing their budget. ....
I totally agree with the teacher's comments that the statements do not explicitly indicate that AEA is saying Measure C funds can be used for day-to-day operations. However, the joining of two paragraphs gives the mistaken impression that the District has more new monies. Developer fees and bond monies are kept in separate funds and can only be used for building construction expenses. The $78 million of bond monies will allow the District to address the items identified in Measure C. Had the bonds failed the District would have had to rely strictly on Deferred Maintenance Funds to maintain our schools. The funding for Deferred Maintenance comes from State monies up that is matched by the District up to one half of one percent of the general fund budget. Due to the ongoing State fiscal crisis, the State is not currently funding Deferred Maintenance funds to the maximum allowed.
March 13 - Teacher
Nowhere on the website or in any other communication have we said the bond money or prop 55 money can be used for teachers salaries or healthcare. The fact that the money is available to the district frees up money in the general fund. We needed the bond because there were so many sites that needed work. If the bond were voted down the money for the repairs would come from the general fund. A good example is the heating system at LMS. It has to be fixed because there are students and teachers who go without heat in the dead of winter. We didn't just go for the bond and apply for matching funds because we wanted to redecorate the existing sites and build a new one. There were many things that needed to be taken care of. So we are saying that there is money in the general fund. Since there is money in the general fund the district needs to reprioritize their budget. We are not saying you can use prop 55 money and bond money for negotiations. As far as Measure A money that is to retain and recruit teachers and reduce class size, among other things. You say that Measure A money is being spenton discretionary programs like class size reduction. Is the Public Information Officer a discretionary program? I know a large part of her salary comes from Measure A money. There is $1.8 million in Measure A money. Some of it can be used for teachers. You may say our website and information is misleading, but I can say the same to you. Your comments about Measure A money are very misleading.
March 13 - Teacher
I'm not really clear on the restrictions in prop although the campaign ads stated that teacher salaries were part of the bill. Regardless of it's restrictions, I feel very maligned when a school board member sends an e-mail which very clearly accuses AEA of being deceptive, If you disagree with AEA's take on things, there are other tones in which your message can be made clear. Please respond.
Response: Based on information I have received, Measure C and Prop 55 bond monies can only be used for Alameda school construction projects. If AEA can provide any legal citiations to the contary, I would immediately publish them and retract my statement.
March 10 - Teacher
I am writing to you all in order to, hopefully, generate some reasonableness in this negotiation process. I don't really want to get into the details of the conflicts, but instead I want to write about morale, for myself and what I see here at encinal. to begin with, last tuesday as I and many others marched outside city hall, I could not help but feel distressed that we were there, again, having to do that which we had to do last time. Be clear- I and all the others will be there as needed, but it was just so depressing to have to be there. Surely we can avoid the chaos of last time. Beyond that, from my perspective only, you need to know how discouraging this all is. I have been a most loyal and proud employee for now 17 years. but my energy and my enthusiasm is weakening. from what? From the fact that I have to work harder, and for less money and, under less than joyous conditions. I must work harder because of the work to adopt and adapt to the new standards. while good and worthwhile work, for the most part, it has still made the job harder. All of the test prep and testing has also added to our work. Again, with many benefits, but still more work. Class sizes have gone up, to where I see 165 students a day. And as an english teacher, it means I grade 165 pieces of writing when I give those assignments. That is a heck of a lot of work that takes place after the school day has ended. And of course, seeing as how I have a family, I earn less money since I have to contribute to my healthcare. The end result- I am discouraged, I am often weary, and I have on more than one occasion thought about looking for some other kind of work.
I am not asking you to settle the contract for me. I am asking you to consider my circumstances, and how they probably represent many others in this district. This is hard work that we do, work that we love, but work that cannot bear to get much harder. One last thought- seeing as how there is not that much money to fight over, don't you think things can be less contentiouis? I urge you all to set the tone for this, to help get this done, and help the morale for the teachers, students and parents in this disctict.
March 10 - Parent
Please stop stalling on the completing the contract with the Teachers, specifically the Alameda Education Association. You are taking away from our children. The teachers are having to expend time and energy towards getting a contract, and paying for medical insurance, when their time could be better spend educating the children.
You are doing the county and city of Alameda a disservice with the current process you are employing. The land parcel tax was specifically instated to benefit teachers and keep class size lower, and you are directly interfering with funds allocated for that purpose. Do your job and get the contract on board, without trying to enlarge class size.
Note:Based on a tentative agreement on class size will not increasing.
March 1 - Parent
I am a resident of Alameda, and I have two children enrolled at xxxxx Elementary School, and I want you to know that I support our teachers here!!! Please, complete the contract negotiations at once! They have been working too long while not being under any contract, taking money out of their pockets! It's unfair, it's wrong, and I am scared that I might see my children's teachers walk...
January 14 - Teacher
I have been out of the loop a bit, and my suggestion may not even be plausible; however, in terms of contract negotiations with the teachers, one item I would try to pull from the teachers, (the board may have to give something of course, in return) is the calendar. I believe it to be a public relations nightmare, there is no way one can ever get agreement and I believe it further divides those who should be concerned with serving the needs of kids. I don't know if this is possible. But I think it is ridiculous that so much effort has been expended in the last several year on this issue. Let's spend time and energy on truly important things like kids (not the best time to vacation).
On December 13, 2003 I sent out an EMail offering my observations on negotiations.
December 18 - Teacher
I understand your frustration at the slow pace of negotiations. As a teacher, I feel it too. However, I fear that you are only hearing one side of the story--the district administration's side. Here is what the teachers are feeling (at least those I have talked to):
We know there is not much money. We remember last year's painful budget cuts and of course the pink slips that we all received. However, we would like to think that the district is at least taking us seriously during negotiations. This does not seem to be the case. According to the AEA negotiations team, the district repeatedly has shown up at negotiations ill-prepared and spends most of their time caucusing, which eats up the time that these teachers have given up from being with their classes. The district's proposals (again according to AEA negotiations members whom I trust to be accurate) on several articles pertaining to teachers' workdays are nothing but takebacks and do not seem to have any impact on the budget. They want to prescribe which activities a teacher can engage in during prep time; schedule meetings before and after school in excess of those currently in the contract; eliminate liability insurance while employees are performing official duties; eliminate a "locked storage space" for every teaching position; increase student contacts for middle school teachers. Then there is the district's bizarre proposals that AEA waive all rights to meet and negotiate on ANY subject, and that AEA guarantee that we will never strike, have a work stoppage or slowdown or picket!!!
Please, try to understand our point of view. We were the ones who were laid off and then rehired last spring--all while still doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. We are the ones who have to take money out of our retirement set-asides to pay for ever-increasing health insurance costs. We (special ed teachers) watch our class sizes grow and ask that language be put into the contract limiting the number of students we can have; the district refuses. Why should we sit quietly and just take all of this???????? We may be teachers who like what we do but we won't stand for being treated like nothing more than "hired help".
Thank you for getting through my rant. I'm sure I'm not the only teacher you've heard from! You have my utter respect in volunteering your time to help steer this district and I thank you for being the only board member who consistently answers email from teachers (I've talked to other teachers who have emailed you too)
December 18 - Teacher
I am a teacher, (and a parent as my child went through Alameda schools).
I read your home email of Dec.13, and felt compelled to respond. While I appreciate your interest in negotiations going smoothly, our past experience with the district says otherwise. The information on the AEA web site, and the AEA handouts are intended to inform - to make the AEA membership aware of the continuous problems we have in negotiating our contracts with AUSD.
The issues and areas for negotiation were spelled out before the last school year ended. Why cant the district team be prepared? Our contract ended in June, why would the district ask us now to put off negotiations? These are not only stalling tactics, they are insulting to our negotiating team which has spent hours to be able to come to the table prepared.
Also, we are all aware of the harsh realities - however our district is not in financial trouble, we are not Oakland, and this district says that it wants to attract and retain great teachers. We do not expect a great raise, however we should not be asked to give up anything. (The last raise I received has been totally wiped out in additional medical insurance costs.)
These are my personal thoughts, and my experience with this district during negotiations and at other times is that the district hires experienced professionals to teach our most precious resource and then does not respect their professional judgment or their professional or personal needs.
I believe the Board has a responsibility to direct the superintendent and the district team to make every effort to move negotiations along.
December 15 - Parent
the AEA needs to be more proactive and responsible with regard to the budget crisis at the state level - which will inevitably trickle down to the schools. I must say that I do not like the tactics the AEA uses - even at the last round of negotiations a couple of years ago.
December 15 - Teacher
As a member of AEA, I am saddened to hear these words from you. I believe if you want the negotiations unimpaired, that you be a fly on the wall for a day to see just what is and what is not happening at negotiations. There are many issues for teachers that only require a change in contract language at no cost to the district. However, it is my understanding that the District's negotiating team is not prepared in the least to address any issue at any given time. Please consult your negotiators for a true update as to what is real in the negotiating "slow down".
December 15 - Parent
Thank you for keeping me informed. I appreciate the time and effort you put into these updates.
December 14 - Teacher
Thank you for your private observations.
December 14 - Teacher
AEA's intentions are not to disrupt the negotiations’ process, but to inform parents and teachers as to what is happening in negotiations. The only time all (negotiations) information is confidential is in mediation. As far as discrediting the Superintendent I believe the Superintendent discredits himself. He has cut himself off from any and all communication with AEA and is now instructing other management to do so. All this does is direct conversations through the attorneys and that costs money. Every issue that AEA would usually speak with the Chief Personnel about, and come to some kind of agreement on, now will have to go through grievances or lawsuits.
At negotiations AEA have put cost and non-cost items on the table. As is common practice in negotiations if a tentatively agreement is impacted later in negotiations then that section (s) is reopened. The district’s team has not made any response or movement on non-cost items. There are many articles that could be addressed that are non-cost items, such as, transfer, peer coaching, some items in special education, grievances, evaluations, leaves, preparation time, instructional day could be looked at to see what could be done at no cost. The district has made no proposal that addressed any non-cost items. They appear to have no direction. This is what AEA reports to the teachers. If it causes discontent, well, it should. To have a district show so little respect for their teachers and allow the Superintendent to openly voice his hatred towards the teachers and claim he will never rise above that hatred is appalling. The impression is the Board condones his behavior and protects him.
December 14 - Teacher
The negotiating updates written for our members are not the venue to report on the state's budget. I'm sure that anyone who watches television or reads the newspapers are aware of the situation. Our updates report what articles were presented and what the responses were from both sides. The reality is that many of the cost items haven't been dollared out because many of our requests for financial information have gone unanswered by the district team. I think it's important for you to keep an open mind regarding negotiations since you are not only an elected trustee, but also a parent in the district. I know it's understandable that BOE members generally hear only the district's version of events and believe them to be 100% accurate. I only ask that before jump to cetain conclusions about things that you dig deeper and get both sides of the story. It upsets me that you feel that AEA is attempting to be deceitful and or attempting to stir things up. We are the same teachers to which you entrusted your most valuable assests-your children.
December 14 - Teacher
The bottom line is What is Best for our Children! Smaller class sizes and Qualified and Happy Teachers are most important. Hard to run a School without Teachers!
December 14 - Parent
I realize that you (Mike McMahon) take the role (Board Member) very seriously and in fact, yours is the one name that people mention as part of the solution versus the problem. As a mother, I am extremely frustrated by what is going on. The future condition of our district in five years has me very worried.
That said, there are still a lot of people at sites doing some pretty amazing work...I suppose this too shall pass.
December 14 - Parent
I hope this is not out of line to voice my opinion here, even though it is somewhat uninformed. I looked at the Email I received from Mike McMahon and the links it contained, and have to respond.
I am the father of children who have both parents working and hence have little time to devote to the schools or staying in touch w/ all the facets of our school district. For my wife and I it is more important to use our valuable time to spend with our children than at PTA mtgs. Certainly, and thankfully, this is not true for everyone and could one day change for us when both boys are at xxxxx. We have been able to do volunteer work at xxxxx as well as at our younger boy's preschool. Participating in Cub Scouts, sports, and keeping the boys integrated with other events both social and cultural seems to fully consume our lives, but it is what we have chosen to do. I expect with the taxes we pay that our public servants will do their job. I am appalled that a member of the AUSD board would have to send such an email. Not that I don't want to know what is happening in negotiations, (I appreciate that we can get this kind of information) I have to place myself squarely with the teachers, not so much with what they may be asking, I surely don't know that landscape well enough. I do know teachers need to be prepared for each class everyday. I do feel administrators are paid beyond their worth, especially if they cannot be prepared. Why are we now talking about a contract that should have been ratified prior to the end of the last fiscal year? What is the reason that the teachers in this community should have to work a single day without a contract, or pay more for medical coverage than the administrators pay for equal benefits. AUSD board will get no sympathy from me because it appears it is they who failed to prepare and complete the negotiations when they were due. I see only semantics, foot dragging, & job avoidance where they talk of shared view, or interest bargaining vs. that "negative" position bargaining. If this is what those high salaries have bought us, this administration is no bargain at all. They should be spending, as many hours as needed, at the table to negotiate, not whine for a bargain. When they are willing to work for the same wages, hours and conditions as the teachers are offered we will quickly have a settlement. That might be a worthwhile interest we can all discuss . Until that time, I hope I don't have to listen or read about contracts for the Maintenance and Operations workers expiring without a new one first being ratified. If someone can answer my questions about why the contracts were not prepared on time, -please respond.
December 14 - Staff
As a CSEA member, all I have to report is that I am now earning less than at any time in my 8 years with AUSD in the same position. The "interest based" negotiation that my union was unwise enough to enter into with the district has resulted in our being underfunded while administrators who have had their hours decreased with their salaries intact (that sounds like a raise to me) are now asking for a salary increase on top! I will be paying $192 per month out of less than $2000 in salary per month for my daughter's health care (this is up from $0 to $ 75 to $192 per month in the last 4 years) with NO increase in wages or benefits despite an increase in work load and responsibilities. How far do you intend to push us? We are doing these jobs at below market wages already. Plus we (at CSEA) have been deceived and manipulated by the administration to the point that they have no credibility as "good faith negotiators". The discrepancy between the people who do all the talking and the people who do the real work in this district has to be resolved or the board will see an even bigger 'brain drain' than is now occuring. That's my 2 cents worth and by next year I won't even have that to give you.
December 13 - Parent
I believe the leadership in the AEA is perpetuating the problems that exist. The reality is that while the AEA leadership under the former Superintendent did not like him, there was a sense that he was in charge. You didn't dare cross him. There is a gross lack of leadership in this district and my belief is that people are behaving as is often the case when no one is in charge. The AEA's actions look no different than a classroom where the teacher is not in charge.
Regardless of my feelings for the current Superintendant, I do not see him as the leader of this ship. He does not ask for, command, work for or exhibit anything that I can identify. I do not know what is going on and can't tell you what our district's focus is.
The AEA is going to keep behaving as they do until someone is in charge and at this point, it isn't going to happen by threat or force, it will only happen if both sides work together. That does not mean sending in the Chief Personnel Officer either.
December 13 - Parent
Please do all you can to keep up the information flow -- the AEA leadership has historically driven their membership by misinformation and emotional rhetoric. A balanced information view should be maintained and I think you have had a decent record of getting information out to the public.
December 4 - Teacher
To date, AEA has presented Article 8 teaching hours, Article 9 counter on class size, Article 10 transfer, Article 12 Health and Welfare, Article 13 Teacher Safety, Article 14 Salaries, Article 15 Early Retirement we proposed an MOU to expediate this, Article 17 Peer Coaching, and Article 27 Special Ed. The District has presented a counter to Article 8, counter to our MOU on Early Retirement , initial proposal on Articile 9 and Article 10. The District has put less than half of what we have put on the table. They also have exceedingly long caucuses. That slows things done immensely. We can’t make the district come out of caucus and meet with us. Nor can we make them present more proposals. The pacing of negotiations is going horribly.
December 2 - Teacher
Why does the Alameda School District refuse to negotiate with the Teachers?
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