April 9, 2011
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While the rest of the country focused on the threat of a government shutdown, a small group attended a forum on collective bargaining laws in Tennessee led by Steve Thompson, former lead negotiator for the Sullivan Education Association. The forum was hosted by the Upper East Tennessee Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.
Clearly, the goal of the forum was to educate folks about collective bargaining practices and not focus on the politics of union busting. Ironically, Tennessee has the weakest collective bargaining laws in the country. Despite that fact, “State lawmakers are … wrestling with a bill that … would eliminate teachers’ ability to negotiate salaries and working conditions with local school boards.”
But politics is what this is all about. Thompson has been working directly with Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ramsey on a bill that would eliminate much of union members collective bargaining rights. He stated that the Lt. Governor’s position on the bill “is more about political payback for the Tennessee Education Association, which in recent years has given more money to the election campaigns of Democrats.”
“He hasn’t even asked us how negotiations work and what we gain from it…” Thompson said of Ramsey. “There are many years we didn’t ask for a raise. … Sullivan County bargains, but Kingsport and Bristol do not. … All the teachers in Kingsport and Bristol are happy we bargain. When our situation improves, their situation improves. … We don’t get paid a fortune, but it’s competitive.”
Kingsport labor attorney Bruce Shine argued that Tennessee has one of the weakest collective bargaining laws in the United States.
“In this (collective bargaining) debate, the only voice for the student is the teacher…” said Shine, who is also a Times-News columnist. “The question is not salary. The question is what type of education will the child receive? … Collective bargaining covers a whole group of issues that otherwise would never come before the school board.”
Labor group holds forum on collective bargaining – Kingsport Times-News Online.
April 2, 2011
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April 2, 2011
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More GOP Teacher-bashing: Tennessee’s bill to make it more difficult for teachers to obtain tenure seems to be putting the cart before the horse basing the bill on an evaluation system that doesn’t exist, as well as correcting a tenure problem that doesn’t exist.
The bill was passed mostly along party lines in both chambers, with Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville and Rep. John Deberry of Memphis being the only Democrats to vote in favor of the changes.
“I don’t think we have a tenure problem in this state, our laws are fairly weak compared to what other states have,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville. “It gave a certain measure of protection to the teacher that’s no longer there.”
The measure will require a teacher to be on the job five years instead of three to secure tenure, and create a way for tenure to be revoked based on consecutive poor evaluations.
Critics say an evaluation system to be used to make tenure decisions isn’t in effect yet and that it has not been determined how best to rate educators whose subjects aren’t covered by the state’s value-added test scoring program.
“The evaluation system, which is now such a high-stakes proposition, is still unfinished,” said Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters. “There’s some serious problems with it.”
Tenn. Senate’s OK sends teacher tenure bill to gov – BusinessWeek.
March 31, 2011
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With Republicans dead set on crushing teachers’ rights and other public employees, teachers with enough years to retire are heading for the door.
NEA Today reported that:
“In Wisconsin, the number of state employees who have applied to retire this year is already 73 percent over last year – and public schools are bracing for a full-on stampede before contracts end in June.” … “Educators simply can’t afford to stay on. With Gov. Scott Walker’s success in gutting collective bargaining and the rights of the working class, they’re afraid that, if they don’t retire now, they’ll lose their pensions and potential health benefits. Plus, with Walker and his right-wing allies poised to slash public school budgets, educators across the state will be struggling to teach enormous numbers of students in each classroom next year.
“I felt like it was almost like a gun to our heads,” said Thomas Bindl to an Education Week reporter. Bindl, a 57-year-old fourth-grade teacher in Sun Prairie’s Royal Oaks Elementary, has been teaching for 34 years.
A Wave of Teacher Retirements on the Horizon : NEA Today.
We should all be concerned. Parents, teachers and more have been fighting for years, especially in our urban centers who will undoubtedly be hit the hardest by the GOP’s shameless actions, to cut class size allowing teachers and students to engage in real learning.
In addition to an obvious spike in class size, we will lose the benefit of the experience and the knowledge that senior teaching staff bring to the table. For certain, a diverse teaching staff is plum; we need new ideas and methods coupled with the wisdom of senior teaching staff.
Sadly, the GOP’s unbridled lust for crushing public employee unions has nothing to do with our children. Its politics. Gov. Scott Walker will definitely find a place in th history books. I’m not so sure the spot he is looking for.