Sunday, February 8, 2015

Connecting the dots between Antwan Wilson’s push for Privatization & OUSD’s focus on Article 12 at the Bargaining Table | Classroom Struggle

Connecting the dots between Antwan Wilson's push for Privatization & OUSD's focus on Article 12 at the Bargaining Table | Classroom Struggle


Some Background information about Article 12 from the OEA FAQ's:

Article 12 of the OEA-OUSD contract covers the rules for filling vacancies and for assigning teachers.

Under the current Article 12 language in the contract, Members who are involuntarily transferred by administration, returning from leave, or consolidated due to position reductions or school closures, and who are qualified for a vacancy by credential and experience, are to be placed in a vacancy for which they have applied in order of seniority (contrary to media-hype, they CANNOT however bump less senior teachers out of positions they currently hold). These vacancies are not open to voluntary transfers or external applicants until this process is completed. Members at sites being closed or restructured stay with their students, and are reassigned by seniority only to the extent required by enrollment reductions.

OUSD is proposing the following major changes to Article 12:

  • All bargaining unit members reassigned after consolidation, involuntary transfer, or extended leave would compete for positions with applicants from outside of the district.
  • Members at schools being closed or restructured would no longer remain with their students at the new school (even a non-charter, district school), and could be reassigned without regard for seniority or status as a current employee.
  • Seniority would no longer play any role in placement or transfer rights.
  • Any member affected by consolidation, returning from leave, or involuntarily transferred could be reassigned as a substitute, curriculum developer, team teacher, or to group instruction/individual intervention for the following year or years.

Who are the forces pushing the proposed changes to Article 12?

  1. ANTWAN WILSON'S SCHOOL DISTRICT (The same superintendent who in Denver, CO was very involved in a wave of school "turnarounds" where targeted schools, all in poor black & brown communities, were either privatized or had their entire teacher staff replaced by Teach for America fellows, college student "tutoring fellows" and retired teachers (edweek.org). Also the same superintendent who just announced plans to turnaround Fremont, McClymonds, Castlemont, Frick and Brookfield):

"We must empower our schools by giving them the flexibility to design programs that best meet the needs of the students they serve. This includes the way in which we select teachers and staff. I want to ensure that every adult working on behalf of Oakland students shares the vision of the school and its community. Ideally, we will not place staff at schools where their values don't align with those of the school or the students' needs. This approach allows for a collaborative school culture and governance model that encourages parent engagement and staff unity while driving improved student achievement."

  1. GO PUBLIC SCHOOLS (under the same leadership that has consistently supported charter school growth, accepted school closings, supported the accelerated TSA anti-worker rights proposal which wreaked havoc on the 3 high schools now being targeted for "turnaround," and celebrated the selection of Antwan Wilson as our new superintendent last spring):

"Teachers have the largest impact on student learning of any in-school factor. Giving teachers, parents, and principals more power to decide who teaches in their schools is an important first step in ensuring that every student in Oakland has an effective teacher."

Antwan Wilson and GO want the public to believe that teachers' union-protected worker rights are the main barriers to community control of schools. Is community control what this is really about?

No. While Wilson talks "collaborative school governance", he is actively pushing a top-down undemocratic process for school turnarounds of the 5 flatland schools (and GO Public Schools has yet to speak out against it). Most of the schools had no idea their schools were being targeted until one day before the district announced its plans publicly in December. Given the number of interested charter school already coming to the table, we might wonder if the district kept the charters in the dark as long as they did the students, parents and teachers who would be so deeply impacted by this initiative. If community control of schools was really Wilson's number one priority, he would have approached struggling schools with an asset-based, well-resourced and community leadership-oriented model for positive student/parent/teacher-led transformation of our schools. Rather, Wilson is using Article 12 to pit parents and teachers against each other at a time when we should be united against his efforts to privatize our district.

As teachers we value our union-protected worker rights and believe that school communities (including students, parents, teachers and staff) need the power and resources to implement the visions we have for our schools. We know how important it is to staunchly defend our rights both because we believe all workers should have these rights and because we know that teacher stability is perhaps the biggest determinant of the strength of our schools and understand that attacks on our transfer rights work to undermine stability. At the same time, we know that the current transfer process is flawed and doesn't work for teachers or for school communities. As a union we need to develop our own vision for a teacher transfer process that protects our worker rights AND facilitates real community decision-making in staffing and other school site issues.  We should refuse to bargain on Article 12 during this round of contract negotiations (which is totally within our legal rights) and then take the time to develop our own proposal to bring the table during the next round of bargaining.

What is missing from GO Public School's infographic on Article 12?

GO_TeacherTransfers.vs7.jpg

GO released the above infographic the week before the 1/13/15 OEA forum on this issue. GO is a very well resourced organization (they receive substantial funding from Dreyer's Ice Cream's family foundation which also funds the California Charter School Association and many Oakland charter schools, see http://www.rogersfoundation.org/program-areas/oakland-education-grantees), and they use that funding to make very nice graphics like this one. While this is a useful visualization of the district's proposed changes, there are some key details missing:

  • A large number of teachers  forced into the process of having to apply for teaching jobs after years of teaching in OUSD, will also apply to neighboring school districts where salaries and conditions are better and where teacher's rights are not under attack. This will result in Oakland losing many experienced teachers and will only increase teacher instability and inexperience in a district where less than 1 out of 4 teachers have taught in Oakland for more than 5 years.
  • There is no reason to believe that the personnel committees will be any more democratically selected or run than the School Site Councils (SSC) currently are, which are usually made up of teachers, parents and students chosen by the principal and act as rubber stamp committees where principals' proposals are rarely questioned. In fact, given that most hiring takes place over the summer, we can expect that these personnel committees will be even less democratically run than the SSC's which meet during the school day and where teachers, parents and students actually get a vote (as opposed to this model where the principal has final say).
  • If the 5 school turnarounds are allowed to move forward, the vast majority of the teachers facing transfers this year will be teachers from these schools who, just having had their school shut down, will now have to face competing with each other for positions around the district.

 

What's the connection between Article 12 and School Turnarounds?

Wilson needs Article 12 to move forward their plans to "turnaround" Frick, Brookfield, McCylmonds, Fremont & Castlemont. In fact we can assume that Wilson's plans for school turnarounds is why the district pushed to reopen Article 12 for negotiation this fall, after not raising it as a negotiation issue when the district sunshined its initial offer last winter.

In Denver, school turnarounds primarily took two forms: schools were either converted to charter schools OR schools were kept public but all staff were laid-off or reassigned and those hired to replace them were not protected by the same contract rights as regular teachers (ala Accelerated TSA).

If OUSD turns these schools over to charter school management, we can expect layoffs as the number of teaching positions in the district are decreased. The proposed changes to Article 12  will allow the district to control who is reassigned to these vacancies. Without these changes to Article 12, reassignment will be based on seniority rights and the district will be sure to face criticism as schools across the district are destabilized.

If OUSD keeps these schools public but wants to push out the current teachers, the proposed changes to Article 12 will give the district the power to control what schools these teachers are displaced to, or if they are even offered teaching positions in the district at all. Without these changes to Article 12, displaced teachers will have power over where they get reassigned, including the right to follow or stay with their students

If we refuse to bargain on Article 12 (which is absolutely within our bargaining rights), OUSD will be really hard pressed to move forward their undemocratic turnarounds.

Defeat the attack on Article 12 and put a major blockade in Wilson's plans for school turnarounds!

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