Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kudos to Claudette

Nashville education reporter Claudette Riley gets strokes for a job well done from Mike Antonucci in his May 1 Communique and she deserves them.

This morning, Claudette Riley of the Tennessean also took the time to look at the Metro Nashville teachers' contract, and discovered that a handful of teachers are spending a significant portion of the school year attending to union business. "We didn't know we were being policed," said Metro Nashville Education Association President Jamye Merritt.

Most of this stuff never gets "policed," which is why the unifying factor for most school district operations is inertia. Local newspapers can not only generate some decent stories from this, but maybe even effect some positive change.

It really was a very informative piece and I would encourage the media to provide us more in-depth reporting. From my point of view parents and taxpayers are thirsty for this sort of information and I encourage folks to read it. Any time a teacher is absent from work 24% of the time it's cause for concern.

Most interesting to me was this section of the piece:

Tracking leave time

Suggested ways around the problem include extending the length of time contract negotiations can take place on any given day and waiting until the school day ends to start negotiations.

There's some question about how many approved leave days have been used. Garcia said he tracks the requests he approves each year and rarely turns one down unless too many teachers would be out or the activity doesn't seem necessary.

"There are some that I have denied or asked them to have less people," Garcia said.

Neither the district nor the union has kept track of how much approved time was used. Merritt said that if she had known it would become an issue, she would have reported each time the member opted not to take approved time off.

"Not everything has been used — less has been used than requested," said Merritt, who wouldn't speculate on how many of the approved days went unused.

"We didn't know we were being policed."

Policed is such a negative emotional word. Can we use the phrase 'being held accountable' instead? And then let's start tracking this information and find a solution that is best for the students and then as accomodating as possible for the rest of the participants.

1 comment:

George Rand said...

I think the"elephant in the living room" has been overlooked again. The far more harmful aspect of the contract is that the only way for teachers to increase their pay is thruough longevity or additional degrees, rather than improved performance or taking on more difficult (educational, not indoctrinational or union)responsibilities. Almost equally detrimental to educating our children(after all it is our most important responsibility and far too important to be left to the educrats) is the practice of assigning the highest paid, most experienced teachers to the least demanding jobs(e.g. Percy Priest) and the least experienced in the most demanding and critical(e.g. Warner, Maplewood). The school board should tear up the existing contract at the next negotiation and replace it with one that sets pay solely on the requirements of the job, and assigns teachers to the jobs on the basis of their ability to do them. Kay, your district's board seat is now on the ballot in August...?