TESD Student now Parent Offers His Perspective

This is an interesting perspective from a TESD parent who was also once a student in the district.  I don’t know that anyone has commented from this particular angle. 

TE Dad speaks directly to the quality of teachers in the district.  He makes a point of how the system will protect those teachers of seniority, and perhaps that may be viewed as the flaw by some.  On one hand, younger teachers with their enthusiasm (but lack of experience) could be the ones that are best able to engage and excite the students whereas the older, more senior teacher may not be able to reach those same students.  On the other hand, a seasoned teacher can offer experience and advice for students (as well as parents) that can be invaluable. 

Maybe we can get confirmation from TEEA members on this one . . . how will teacher seniority affect the process?  Will teacher seniority make any difference if there are program cuts? What about TE Dad’s suggestion of performance reviews for teachers? Comments anyone?

From TE Dad . . .

What a terrible email from Ms. Ciamacca . . . both of them. She isn’t helping ANYONE. It certainly doesn’t help the teacher’s position. Wow, potentially alienating the parents who are the teacher advocates . . . dumb plan. Maybe the 70 – 80% of TESD taxpayers who don’t have kids in the district will fight for higher taxes in order to save TESD teacher jobs? I hope her tone is much different tonight otherwise she will deepen the division she has already aggravated.

In my experience, as a TE student many years ago, and as a TE parent now, there are many, many, excellent teachers in the district. Some of these terrific teachers also lack meaningful seniority. In fact some teachers are truly a bargain with what they deliver to the kids daily and what they are paid relative to their more senior coworkers.

Conversely, there are teachers in the district now, some with significant seniority who are poor performers, some were poor performers from day 1. Not a lot of them, but not an insignificant number either. The other teachers know who these teachers are, most of the parents probably know them too, especially if they taught your children at any time… These are the teachers most protected and are the ones who most benefit from the misrepresentation of the union.

The union, by protecting poor performing teachers from performance review and reduction isn’t representing the interests of the many, many good teachers very well, and certainly isn’t representing the interests of a junior, high performing teacher AT ALL. Frankly, the union is more concerned with protecting the jobs of senior teachers than the quality of the educational program, and that is by design.

Which teachers out there reading this blog and worried about their jobs would not be willing to be subject to performance review if reductions become necessity?? The likely answer: the poor performers with seniority . . . they are hurting us all . . .

Advertisements

14 Responses

  1. Berwyn Reader kindly offers the following information:

    Responding to Pattye’s comments — all layoffs are done by seniority. Here’s the contract language

    1.083 Reduction in Staff
    1. If any professional staff is reduced, any resulting furlough shall occur in inverse order of seniority within the area of certification to which the Employee is currently assigned. When two or more Employees have the same seniority, the Employee being suspended will be the last Employee to sign an individual contract. If two or more Employees sign on the same day and have the same seniority, the Employee to be suspended will be determined by drawing straws.

    2. When furloughs of Employees occur, Employer shall realign Employees to ensure that more senior Employees are provided with the opportunity to fill positions for which they are certified and which are being filled by less senior Employees.

    3. Employer shall not fill vacancies for which new Employees would be hired if a one-move realignment could be accomplished, regardless of when or for what duration the Employee had taught in the other subject in which he/she was certified. This may be accomplished within the staff or by recall of a furloughed Employee.

  2. As a last resort:

    >>
    the Employee to be suspended will be determined by drawing straws.
    >>

    Are you kidding me????

    Question…which is better? A long straw or a short straw?

    • Do you think that ever happened? I cannot believe that an employee would actually ‘go’ or ‘stay’ based on the length of the straw!! If that is in the TEEA contract it’s not wonder the school district is in its current situation!

      • That’s the contractual language that was posted…

        Pretty unbelievable.

        • Lower Merion’s contract offers these “tie breaking” options for seniority determination (lest you think that only TESD seems a bit arbitrary). Kind of like “calling it”….from page 3 of their contract which is online on the lower mr website

          “Seniority” shall be the amount of time an employee has been in continuos employment in the Lower Merion School District. Seniority of employees who were employed for a period of time and interrupted their service by a resignation shall be computed from the date of the latest hire. Tie breakers:
          1. date of Board appointment
          2. date of employee’s acceptance of the position
          3. date of intiial applicaiton for the position
          4. flip of coin

  3. This is posted someplace else, but all layoffs are based on seniority. I am including the contract segment that references it that is also posted elsewhere. Sorry for the redundancy. Pattye’s got us all typing away!!! TE Contract is on the TEEA website and the TESD website.

    Elsewhere someone has posted that Deb Ciamacca should resign. Please don’t go there folks. That’s like the union telling the public that the school board president or some official chosen by taxpayers should resign. It’s just not our turf — and while I think her email was not helpful, the reality is that she sent it to her membership — and did not suggest it be forwarded. I do not think it represents anything that is a threat to students or their parents. She is a union leader — and I can assure you that most of her “marching orders” come from the PSEA. The TEEA wants what is best for their membership — it’s really not about protecting poor performers. Ms. Ciamacca herself is not at “max” on our salary schedule — I’m not sure but I don’t think any of the TEEA leadership are our most senior teachers anymore.

    I believe this point in time represents an opportunity for all of us to focus on what needs to happen to keep our schools excellent AND within budgetary constraints in this difficult time. While our teachers are well compensated, and they chose to work here, the notion of making less than your peers in neighboring districts is always troublesome. It’s not going to be resolved in this budget period, however, so I think we will all serve our needs best by looking at the options and sharing our own perspective with the board so that they can make decisions for not just the greater good, but the greatest good.

    For the record, the TEEA has often been helpful in counselling out poor performers when methods of instructional improvement did not work. Bottom line — it’s a union. So few of us in this area can relate to the collective bargaining mentality that we keep thinking we can change it. Performance reviews? Not in the near future.

    1.08 JOB SECURITY
    …..
    On or before February 15 of each school year, the Employer shall publish and provide for each Administrator and the President of the Bargaining
    Agent, a seniority list of all temporary professional and professional members of the Bargaining Unit, including all areas of certification that have been filed
    with the personnel office. Any discrepancy noted by the individual teacher should be documented and reported to the personnel office within thirty (30)
    days of the date the list is published. It is the responsibility of the individual Employee to have furnished a copy of certification within thirty (30) days of
    hiring and within thirty (30) days of receiving any new or deleted area(s) of certification.
    ……
    1.083 Reduction in Staff
    1. If any professional staff is reduced, any resulting furlough shall occur in inverse order of seniority within the area of certification to which the Employee is currently assigned. When two or more Employees have the same seniority, the Employee being suspended will be the last Employee to sign an
    individual contract. If two or more Employees sign on the same day and have the same seniority, the Employee to be suspended will be determined by drawing straws.

    1a. If any Health Room Nurse staff is reduced, any resulting furlough shall occur in inverse order of seniority. Where two or more Employees have
    the same seniority, the Employee being furloughed will be the last Employee to be hired. If two or more Employees were hired on the same day and have the
    same seniority, the Employee to be furloughed will be determined by drawing straws.

    2. When furloughs of Employees occur, Employer shall realign Employees to ensure that more senior Employees are provided with the opportunity to fill positions for which they are certified and which are being filled by less senior Employees.

    3. Employer shall not fill vacancies for which new Employees would be hired if a one-move realignment could be accomplished, regardless of when
    or for what duration the Employee had taught in the other subject in which he/ she was certified. This may be accomplished within the staff or by recall of a
    furloughed Employee.

    Union language for sure — with a reminder that the contract is about 50 pages of stuff like this. The job is not easy — but it will be better for us all if stakeholders express their views concisely and on point at the meetings (tonight will be scripted — Feb 8th is the Finance meeting where there is more dialogue)

    • >>
      Elsewhere someone has posted that Deb Ciamacca should resign. Please don’t go there folks. That’s like the union telling the public that the school board president or some official chosen by taxpayers should resign. It’s just not our turf
      <<

      That would be me.

      Let's be clear…

      Teachers are paid by taxpayers
      I/We are the taxpayers
      Teachers work us

      Therefore, our turf.

      Perhaps this is something the school board forgot. But in case that is the case, again, let me be clear..

      School Board members are elected by the voters
      I/We are the voters
      School Board members work of us.

      If any ambiguities or questions remain, go to the top of this post and read again. Repeat as needed until it sinks in..

      • Teachers work for the district. We are the boss of the District. We are the boss of the teachers. We are NOT in charge of who runs the union. We are obligated to collectively bargain. The Union cannot tell us who they will talk to — and we cannot (as taxpayers) expect or deserve the right to identify who the Union should ask to lead.

        We can get angry and have a war as you suggest (threaten?) or we can understand (remember) that 6,000 kids go to school every day and the value of our properties is very much tied to the quality of the program and instruction they receive and the results of their testing — which WILL be affected by their relationships with their teachers and their parents.

        It’s time for reason – not rancor. Our taxes are reasonable for the product we get. We are talking about what kind of increases we can afford — not what kind of increases would be required to maintain what we have. Collective bargaining is not free market.

        Grouchy day?

  4. Question for you Andrea — what other unions work in the school district besides TEEA? It is my understanding that the administration is not unionized but what about school bus drivers, kitchen staff, etc. After all the discussion about TEEA, I am very interested in how other unions work in TESD. Thanks!

    • TENIG – Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group — also represented by the PSEA but bargain separately from the teachers. Of course, this group also has a right to strike, but as hourly workers, they would be putting their own paychecks at risk (teachers don’t lose salary if they strike because the law says they earn their salary for a “school year” whatever length it is). The Admins are not unionized but do a “meet and discuss” for their contract — they have the same benefit plans etc. Admins are still protected by tenure for the most part and can return to the classroom in many cases. The TENIG contract is also on the TESD website. It is bargained the same way the teachers bargain, but is obviously quite different because so many different job descriptions fall under the same umbrella. That is specifically the contract where I used the phrase “keep a good job, lose a great one” because at some point, the non-instructional employees are very susceptible to outsourcing. The board can only negotiate with the whole, not with pieces. It’s why we no longer have our own bus drivers — unable to reach an agreement with TENIG on their behalf. I’d include more….but I’m afraid it’s pretty boring stuff unless you are knee deep in it.

    • The other union is TENIG..for all support staff. Aides are not a part of TENIG. Aministrators, Confidential Secretaries and Supervisors are all non-union. Bus drivers are now outsourced, so it’s Secretaries, Cafe employees and Custodial staff. Support Staff is a much smaller slice of the budget pie. They just negotiated a contract for period ’09-’14

  5. As of today, the teachers are already talking to the students about program cuts – reduced electives, etc. As far as I know, nothing has been decided, so this seems rather a scare tactic.

    To the other union question: yes, it’s TENIG (T/E Non-Instructional Group?), and the contract can be found on the TESD web site. I haven’t had a chance to analyze it.

    • >>
      As of today, the teachers are already talking to the students about program cuts
      <<

      I hope this is brought to the attention of the board. Clearly, this is an attempt to put the kids in the middle.

      If these people want war….then war they shall have. I would much rather avoid that prospect. Nonetheless, if that is the way it needs to be to get resolved, then so be it…Clearly, Ciamacca already lobbed the first bomb.

  6. Ray
    It would be helpful if you would look at the LMSD contract information — they do one contract and it expires this year. http://www.lmsd.org/sections/about/

    I am not by any means saying it’s relevant what a teacher can earn in another district — since one law firm pays better than another – some hair dressers charge more than others..free market system — ..and while taxpayers are hostage to their address to some extent , teachers are not hostage to their jobs and are free to change careers.

    Having said that — reviewing the LMSD contract would be worth your time. The teachers are certainly talking to the kids — that’s what I posted to Ms. Ciamacca so that she will understand what it’s like to be the kid. Teachers are not evil and individually they are wonderfully, but collectively they are a force and can be quite disruptive if we do not deal with the facts and reach decisions. I’m not going tonight — will watch it on TV. See you on the 8th.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: