Sunday, June 29, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This is a marked contrast to the way we operate our educational systems in t he United States. Since the first mandatory public education systems were established in the 1830's education has always been subject to local control. As our discussion developed we began to talk about the thousands of local school boards in this country and the relative merits and abilities of individual school board members. Our system is considered broken by many, Singapore's is being held up as a model of efficiency and accomplishment. Even if we assume that is true, the question must be ask - Would individual Americans be willing to give up local control of their schools? If not, how can we hope to compete with the rest of the world, most of which has centralized systems?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
HOUSTON FEDERATION OF TEACHERS
Please include the following to the June 19, 2008 Instructional Consultation agenda:
1. Salary and Benefits
The Federation reiterates it’s belief that an increase of 3% plus step for teachers and 3% for other employees is the bare minimum needed to keep up with the spiraling cost of living increases we are now experiencing. Any plans to reduce the proposed pay increase in favor of increased student performance based incentives will be most vehemently opposed. Employees need to be able to budget month to month based on a stable salary. We cannot base mortgage or automobile payments on an undetermined student performance incentive that may or may not happen. The Federation continues to support the following:
· A salary increase of 3% plus step movement to all teachers.
· A 3% across the board raise for employees on the Master Schedule, Bus Drivers, Hourly workers, and Substitutes.
· No changes in the 2009 benefit year in health insurance. Any cost increases need to be absorbed by HISD with no costs being passed through to employees including premium increases, a reduction in the benefit plan, or reducing access to health providers by capping the payout thus increasing employee costs.
The district responded by saying they are going forward and recommending to the board the pay proposal HFT supports. The district response did make it clear that there are those members of the board who would like to lower or eliminate the pay proposal. The issue is being portrayed by these members as budgetary. They wish to raise the per pupil allotment for campuses and the money should come from the proposed pay raise. I advocated reducing the amount of money budgeted for ASPIRE ($25 million) and using that money to raise per pupil funding.
2. Counseling Positions
Why do we have a counseling ACP program if we are closing counseling positions all across the district? The current process is a nightmare. Counselors are being informed at the last minute that their position is being closed, thereby jeopardizing their salaries. Will they still be protecting their salaries for one year?
The district's response was again budgetary. Evidently principals are using their budget discretion to close counseling positions and spending the money on other positions on their campuses. There is considerable dispute regarding protecting the salaries of the counselors who were informed at the end of the year their positions are being eliminated. The Federation has always maintained that an employee must be informed of a contractual change no later than 45 days prior to the last day of instruction. The district is maintaining that they must be informed 45 days prior to the first day of instruction the following year. This is a huge difference and we must get it resolved.
May 6, 2008 was the last day for teachers to sign their 2007-2008 assessments yet we are receiving widespread reports that principals are calling their teachers in to sign lowered assessments. Why is this happening? Who doesn’t know the rules? The Federation is requesting that a notification be sent to all principals informing them that if they have missed the May 6, 2008 deadline the PDAS assessment reverts to last year’s scores.
According to the district, there evidently is no penalty for principals missing this timeline. There first and often repeated response to this issue is for the teacher to file a grievance. Okay.