Congratulations to Seattle’s teachers. After a five-day strike, they won a contract that increases teacher pay by 9.5 percent over three years. Just as significantly, the deal includes benefits for students: guaranteed recess and the creation of panels to address racial disparities in discipline and learning.
It would be nice to think Indiana teachers and school boards might follow that example and bargain for contract provisions that help children. But they can’t. It’s against the law.
Thanks to school reform laws that the state legislature approved in 2011, teacher collective bargaining in Indiana can deal with salary, wages and fringe benefits – and nothing else.
Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels led the fight to limit collective bargaining, ridiculing teacher contracts for focusing on trivia. Unions go too far, he said, “when they dictate the color of the teachers’ lounge, who can monitor recess, or on what days the principal is allowed to hold a staff meeting.”
No doubt some contracts were loaded with red tape. When there’s no money on the table, sometimes you bargain for other things. But the idea that teachers would only bargain for side benefits that are bad for kids – pushed implicitly by Daniels and some legislators – doesn’t add up. As an Indiana State Teachers Association lobbyist told lawmakers in 2011, teachers’ working conditions tend to be students’ learning conditions.
The Seattle contract, which teachers and other school employees approved Sunday, also includes changes in school-day and teacher-evaluation rules and creation of a district-union committee to study ways to reduce the impact of excessive testing. The vote was strongly in favor of the deal despite concerns that teacher pay falls short in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the country.
Some experts say the agreement, with its focus on what’s good for students, is a harbinger of things to come. “Teachers are positioning themselves to be about much more than raising their own pay,” University of Illinois professor Bob Bruno told the Associated Press.
But if student-focused bargaining becomes a trend, Indiana will be left behind.
Does that include sub teachers? They get so little ink from the press or respect from their peers.
Paraprofessionals and staff are represented in Seattle. Not sure if that includes subs.
I can confirm that one of the major items that the Seattle Education Association was bargaining for, and won, were improvements to substitute pay, which included some changes to policies that penalized them for taking sick leave when in a long-term sub position. They also now get the long-term sub pay bump earlier than before. There is a massive shortage of subs in Washington currently and this was, in part, an attempt to lure more people into the district/profession.
I’m an SEA members, and substitutes are definitely represented by our union. Classified subs are represented in the paraprofessional contract, and Certificated subs are represented in the certificated contract. See details of our contract summary here: http://www.seattlewea.org/index.php/sea-strike-2015/ta-summary-sea-contract-misc
Also a request: rather than linking to The Seattle Times (from which parents hosted a day to unsubscribe as a result of their reporting during the start of the strike, so successful that by the end of the strike the coverage became much more old school fair), here’s a post from The Stranger on the end of the strike: http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/09/21/22888398/seattles-teachers-ratify-contract-and-end-strike-but-now-the-fight-goes-to-olympia
Thanks, Ashley. I switched the link.
David, see the post – two responses from Seattle educators to your question about subs.
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