This is a period of time following the announcement of our unique Public School Choice 2.5 mandate [that was created to apply to HPHS only] for scrambling to gain support, fussing over terminology and allocating times for writing; but we should never really lose sight of what’s happening behind the scenes. The nameless person who works undercover and exists within the safety of the passive voice has already picked, yea, even helped to create the five school plan being written and headed by out-of-classroom employees. The situation is not an innocuous, fair competition among teachers for the best design, but a clandestine scheme to undermine the present contract and break up the union. We simply have to acknowledge this before we go on. We know which writing group is preferred – gee, there’s that passive voice again.
The course of action begun by our UTLA Steering committee is to write what will obviously be the best proposal plan of the two. As genuine teachers in our community, we are keenly aware of the real problems that we face in a classroom and are the only ones best equipped to address these problems. A superior attitude will only get an out-of-classroom coordinator early crow’s feet around the eyes.
Success in our classrooms requires down to earth perspectives and the fortitude to make demands of students who are painfully accustomed to social promotion and easy escape routes provided by the district. Yet we all know that our board supports plans that seek to punish and alter the perceived behavior of teachers. Let that support become obvious in April. When it becomes obvious, the rhetoric about doing what is good for kids will shrivel like a popped balloon in a terrain of dispersed resources and confusing and chaotic implementations.
The presentations of letter of intent at the faculty meeting went well on Tuesday December 7th. Ms. Laurie Woerfel did marvelous job of presenting the comprehensive school plan with semi-autonomous academies and a freshman house. [Please see the video below for her presentation to parents on Thursday.] The coordinators’ plan was not nearly as well prepared, but give them time. These people have the time to work on it. Remember, they’re out of the classroom. Already, I have been informed that particular people have been asked to sign on to their “small schools” in secret. Some have done so, in secret of course.
These “small schools” are not pilot schools, but there is still no definition attached to them which is a very real potential hazard as Ms. Indgrid Villeda from UTLA has pointed out in an email which she has given permission to disseminate:
“Most small schools do become pilot schools in governance with separate school funding codes. I don’t know why HP teachers don’t think this will happen to them. Also small schools operate under what is called a right to work agreement…might have name a little off [Elect to work?]. This work agreement replaces article 9 from our contract. Article nine is the article that outlines jobs, duties, and responsibilities for teachers. These agreements can change your day schedule, your hours, your adjunct duties, etc…more than that teachers are voted on by the group. What we see happen is a removal of teachers with seniority because they cost more money, and a push to get rid of those teachers that begin to speak about job conditions.
The displacement process happens when a site or small school can only absorb so many teachers and then initially you might follow a seniority process…unless…the right to work agreement includes certain qualifications, or mandates. In that case…you might have teachers that have the seniority to stay but not the resume that particular school is seeking…and so these teachers become displaced.
The last thing to consider is that with a pilot school, the group as a whole votes on who stays and goes at the end of each year so teachers feel like they have to comply with everything or they can be asked to leave the site.
Now at some sites it works because you have a group of union oriented people running the small schools (Miguel Contreras is the best example) but at others it’s a disaster…Torres now, or Lincoln High are examples of disasters.
I can try to get you more info, but really your faculty is putting their faith in the hands of the coordinators writing the plans when they sign on to their small schools. As teachers it is in your best interest to have the union look over your right to work agreements…and also for you guys to actually participate in the writing as it develops…and not just by getting presentations.”
I hope I helped you some.
The dance continues with both groups being offered substitute coverage during the month of January to write their proposals which are due at the end of February. On Wednesday December 15th each group will be permitted time to present their outlined letters of intent to students during lunch. The principal would like each group to present again to parents on the following day. Our principal has a tight rope to walk in this process. He has been given the green light to be as fair and upfront with both major groups writing their proposals as is possible (well, hey, that always looks good doesn’t it?), but he must be careful what he says and does. Anyone in administration or partial administration must not publically offend or disagree with that mysterious entity concealed behind the use of the passive voice. [see my post below]
– Phil Keller (Acting Chair for UTLA at HPHS)