Friday, October 07, 2005

More Dialogue

Okay, so I'm still not sure whether I'm voting for or against. I am asking questions, thinking, putting my opinion out there and listening to the response, and thinking more. Each of these posts is part of a work-in-progress.

The math is a muddle and I wish it weren't, because I think it makes teachers look bad* to have us parroting calculations that are just plain wrong (such as dividing 15 by 4 and declaring it 3.75% per year) as evidence for rejecting the contract. Do the math right and then argue about whether or not the money is enough, which is a different question.

*Including me, since I quoted the bad math in a post below without thinking it through.

On the side of voting FOR:
The money doesn't seem so bad when you remember that you didn't actually teach 10 minutes extra per day for the last two years - and when the contract ends, we renegotiate another for the future. It's not as awesome as it could be, but it's certainly not awful.

The lead teacher idea is a good one, in that too many good teachers become bad administrators, because there is no place to go in teaching other than administration... I like the idea that experienced, expert teachers could be paid significantly more to share that expertise with newer teachers. I might even apply for one of these jobs in five or ten years.

I have yet to be convinced that holding out for better will actually get us better. No one has painted any kind of concrete picture of exactly what would happen after rejecting this contract, especially given the very real possibility that Bloomberg is still mayor after Election Day.

On the side of voting AGAINST:
I'm on the fence about giving up the ability to grieve a letter in your file. I would like to see REAL STATISTICS from my union: how many letters in files last year, how many in each category (break it down into a few categories describing what the letters were about), how many grieved, how many grievances won/lost, how the grievances broke down by category. Leo, is this data available? I like the idea that if a letter is not used in 3 years, it is removed from your file.

I really don't like the way the 10 minutes will be used. It's selfish of me, but the thought of teaching remedial math (which is almost certainly what I'd end up doing) - even to the darling deadbeats in my school - sounds plain awful. The fact that it would be the final period of the day is just icing on the cake; the best way to end a day is clearly teaching something you're not trained to teach to kids who aren't particularly good at it while their friends are outside playing... eek. There could be other ways to use this time that would make it less painful, though. And I do think that instruction in such small groups would probably do the kids some good, and lord knows, they can use the extra help.

Questions:
I understand that sometimes you're in a bad school or offered a raw deal in your school, and you decide you want to leave. What I don't understand is why a SENIORITY transfer is necessary or preferable to just having the right to apply for a vacant position, show off some student work and awesome lesson plans, maybe teach a demo lesson, and then get a job offer. Sure, you may not get the first position you apply for, but there are hundreds of vacancies across the city each year. And it has always seemed like a form of indentured servitude that we have to request a release from our principals in order to transfer... Furthermore, if we all have the right to apply for open positions, we can vote with our feet all the more easily. Crappy administrators stand to find half their staff gone the next year - and this would send a clear message to the LIS's about who is and is not a good leader.

This is how it works in most other professions - why should teachers have the right to switch schools just 'cause they want to and have been working for a long time?

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