Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More on incentive pay

Well the papers are filling up with comments from both sides.

From the City Paper:

Aex Green Elementary School principal Sheila Woodruff said she and her teachers felt robbed when they learned the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association voted down a $400,000 dollar grant over the weekend.
No doubt. I'm feeling a bit robbed myself. And regarding the ballots:
Woodruff said many faculty members at Alex Green were under the assumption that they would be allowed to vote on the program themselves, not the members of MNEA.

Erick Huth, MNEA vice president, said they distributed ballots to association representatives who then took them to each school in the system. Only teachers who were MNEA members were allowed to vote.
So we had union reps handing out the ballots and maybe gathering them up? Or did the union reps leave the ballot with the teacher, without any editorial commentary, and the teacher returned sealed ballots to the union office? If the union rep waited for the ballot what words may have been exchanged between the delivery person and the voter?

And a school board member may have a backbone:
School Board member Steve Glover said the MNEA is simply flexing its muscles.
“This proves to me what I had suspected for some time, that without a doubt, the leadership of MNEA is about the leadership of MNEA,” Glover said. “They’re not about our kids. They’re not about helping those kids that need the most amount of help.”
And Kay Simmons of the Nashville Alliance for Public Education reveals just how much money some teachers threw away:
Simmons is disappointed because the program was designed to be a pilot program, with the potential to funnel more than $1 million into these schools.
From the Tennessean:

Jamye Merritt, the Metro Nashville Education Association president, said that voter turnout was low but that union rules prevented disclosure of how many of the more than 3,300 members voted.

"It's not germane to this issue," Merritt said of the turnout number.

It is when your membership feels disenfranchised. The integrity of the voting process is under question here.

Other teachers at the schools selected for the pilot program said it was unfair that teachers from other schools were able to decide whether or not to accept the bonuses.

"It's unfortunate that the vote went out to all MNEA members," said Karen Elliott, a third-grade teacher at Alex Green Elementary, who voted for the measure. "I don't see where it was a decision that the whole body was to make."

It is unfair. That's something only the union membership can really do anything about.

In an interview Monday, Merritt said the decision not to accept the bonus plan was partly a result of mistrust among teachers toward the school board.

"I think you have to look at it as trust," she said. "The teachers don't feel appreciated or that there is a commitment to them" by the school board.

This was the same whine I heard at the negotiations table that I had so little patience with. At that time union reps opined that Pedro Garcia's handling of Maplewood High School teacher reassignments demonstrated his distrust of the union. Now the union is preventing fellow teachers from receiving extra money (surely a sign of appreciation and commitment) based on their feelings being hurt. Are we adults or not?

The ballots went out to every union member in the district on Sept. 26, with a notation guiding members to the union's Web site, where they could read the proposal, said Eric Huth, union vice president.

Teachers had until Oct. 6 to decide how they would vote and return the ballots to the union office, Huth said.

Let's see that union page. No other meetings? No other documentation? No opportunity to meet with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education in order to get a clearer understanding of the situation and build that 'trust'?

Do we know if all the ballots made it to the office and were included in the count?

The Tennessean has an online poll. As of 7:44 a.m. it shows

Is a performance-based incentive program the right way to reward teachers for improved performance?


Total Votes: 403

BOE Chair Marsha Warden wrote MNEA negotiator Eric Huth the day after the vote (Saturday).

Marsha Warden asks:
I am disappointed and curious. How is it that the MNEA voted this measure down? How could it be perceived as being harmful to the interests of teachers in Metro Schools?
And Huth responds on Sunday:
MNEA has fulfilled the duties proscribed under the EPNA, and I shall not question the results. (snip)One might consider that in any election (including, but not limited to the national election of 2000) that the democratic process is not always smooth, but it is what it is. One's hopes, dreams, wishes, aspirations, and desires do not trump the democratic process. (snip)You may also wish to consider the extent to which your questions interfere with MNEA's representational rights. The ice is thin.
And what may be the most interesting number of all:
Under collective bargaining rules, the proposal had to be approved by a majority of members of the Metro Nashville Education Association, the union that represents roughly 60 percent of the district's 5,600 teachers.
That mean 40% of the teachers in Metro aren't union members and didn't even get a chance to vote on this proposal. I think that's a substantial number of our employees without a voice in an important matter and that concerns me. I suspect that a good number of those 3,300 union members are going to be rethinking the value of that membership. Again, I suggest they consider Professional Educators of Tennessee if they even need any sort of bargaining agent at all.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

As the parent of a student at Inglewood Elementary I am, needless to say, extremely disappointed. I feel as if MNEA has snatched an opportunity away from MY child. Perhaps the union objects because they see this as a step toward paying teachers based on performance, and we know how they feel about that. Certainly the reasons that they gave for voting it down were ridiculous. Since when is a bonus not enough money?
This morning, I am extremely upset about these morons having any say in policy that affects my child.
Jeff Smith