Friday, November 17, 2017

Hillsborough teachers say they will “work the contract” for a week to protest wage freeze

RECOMMENDED READING


Teachers in Hillsborough County will "work the contract" for a week after Thanksgiving to illustrate their dissatisfaction with treatment from the school district.

That means no late meetings or phone calls with parents and no grading papers at home.

"It's to make a point that this is what things would be like if teachers really did that all the time," said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.

Union members voted unanimously to take this action at a meeting Thursday evening that drew 300 teachers, an unusually high number, Baxter-Jenkins said.

"It was a historic vote," she said. "It is rare that we vote unanimously on anything."

Teachers, parents and now students have been up in arms since Oct. 23, when the district old the union it would not give its members a year's advancement for pay purposes.

For roughly a third of the district's 14,000 teachers, that means foregoing a $4,000 raise. Under a pay plan enacted in 2013, salaries remain the same for three years, then increase in the fourth if the teacher earns at least a satisfactory rating every year.

The district says with money tight, it can no longer afford to honor these raises. In a written statement released weeks ago, the district made the point that it has been raising employee pay for the last four years, that the teachers are the second highest paid in the Tampa Bay area, and that money is needed for other uses, such as building maintenance.

But the union considers the raises an obligation that could be met with better budgeting and money management. And, teachers point out, the district has relaxed its adherence to state class size limits in recent years, which makes their job harder.

Baxter-Jenkins acknowledged that for some teachers, it will be difficult to leave their work behind at dismissal time, which is why "work to contract" moves are exceedingly rare.

"This is not the first time it's been talked about," she said. "But it's hugely difficult because let's face it. We run schools on the notion that tons of what happens is basically done out of the good of their hearts."

Baxter-Jenkins said the union has not declared an impasse, meaning it is open to negotiations.

In the meantime, she predicts hundreds will attend Tuesday's School Board meeting, the last one before Thanksgiving.

Among other things, the meeting agenda includes the approval of four new charter schools that would serve 4,400 students at build-out. While other school boards in the state have pushed back against independently run charters, Hillsborough's board members rarely vote against the school applications.

Nor has Hillsborough joined in a lawsuit against this year's sweeping state law that encourages and funds more charters.

"I understand the law on charters," Baxter-Jenkins said. "But we elect school board members to be the people who will stand up for public school students. You can't say 'we're losing money' and then roll out the red carpet for people to take the money away."

Comments
Gradebook podcast: On “Hope Scholarships,” with sponsor Florida Rep. Byron Donalds

Gradebook podcast: On “Hope Scholarships,” with sponsor Florida Rep. Byron Donalds

Rep. Byron Donalds calls his "Hope Scholarship" proposal an added opportunity for families to find a way out of a school where their child feels threatened. Critics call it an attempt to create more vouchers for Florida, additionally contending it do...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida education news: Start times, employee raises, vouchers and more

Florida education news: Start times, employee raises, vouchers and more

START TIMES: The Pinellas County school district begins looking into whether it can begin high school classes later in the day. Superintendent Mike Grego says it's a "complicated" set of details that might make a switch impossible. A report is due in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas School Board selects chair, vice chair (and discusses high school start times)

Pinellas School Board selects chair, vice chair (and discusses high school start times)

The Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday held its annual organization meeting to select its chair and vice chair for 2018.Board members didn't vote for a shake-up on the board. Peggy O'Shea and Rene Flowers switched roles as chair and vice chair.B...
Published: 11/16/17
Pasco teachers make counter-offer on raises

Pasco teachers make counter-offer on raises

The United School Employees of Pasco reduced its pay request for teachers by $1.2 million during negotiations late Wednesday.But the union remained $2 million apart from the school district's offer, leaving the sides without a deal as they headed tow...
Published: 11/16/17
Florida education news: Teaching, school construction, hurricane days and more

Florida education news: Teaching, school construction, hurricane days and more

UNION DUES: As universities seek to trim costs, they increasingly turn to adjunct professors — part-time workers with no benefits — to find savings. At the University of South Florida, those faculty members are seeking to unionize in...
Published: 11/16/17
Pinellas Outstanding Educator finalists announced

Pinellas Outstanding Educator finalists announced

It's that time of year again: The Pinellas Education Foundation has named 10 finalists for the Pinellas Outstanding Educator award.The finalists, who were selected by a panel of judges out of 126 nominees, learned of their nominations by surprise cla...
Published: 11/15/17
Florida Virtual School teachers seek to unionize

Florida Virtual School teachers seek to unionize

After teaching middle school science at Florida Virtual School for nine years, Lauren Masino says one thing has become clear: FLVS teachers need to organize."The teachers are petrified to support a union, but we need it so badly," Masino told the Gra...
Published: 11/15/17
Does Florida’s constitutional mandate of one-subject legislation apply to HB 7069?

Does Florida’s constitutional mandate of one-subject legislation apply to HB 7069?

Logrolling.It's defined as the practice of including multiple unrelated items in a single legislative bill, with the goal of attracting wider support for the measure as a whole.Florida's constitution forbids it, stating: "Every law shall embrace but ...
Published: 11/15/17
Florida education news: Budgets, protests, textbooks and more

Florida education news: Budgets, protests, textbooks and more

BUDGETS: Since his first year in office, when he proposed a $1.3 billion cut to education, Gov. Rick Scott has called for more money for public schooling. For his final proposal as governor, he called for "record funding" including a $200 per-st...
Published: 11/15/17
Why is there no money for teacher raises?

Why is there no money for teacher raises?

Facing down hundreds of angry teachers on Tuesday, Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins came as close as any administrator has to acknowledging planning was poor when the district rolled out its Gates-funded teaching reforms.Reading from a prepare...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/15/17