Why I’m Supporting the Tentative Agreement

11110459_10155531716495720_7585585537970679153_nToday’s blog comes from veteran teacher, union representative from Westlake Middle School, and OEA Executive Board Member, Angela Badami-Knight.  Angela shares her thoughtful rationale for why she will be voting to ratify the Tentative Agreement reached by OUSD and OEA.  Read on to learn more about the tenets of the TA and how they benefit Oakland teachers.

Although we know that we need even smaller class sizes and more resources in order to best serve our students, we cannot ignore the forward progress that has been made in this round of bargaining. Below I have outlined the reasons I voted YES from my seat on the Executive Board, and will be voting YES as a union member to ratify the Tentative Agreement.

 Article 21- Counselor Ratios:

Academic Counselor Ratios are 600:1 district wide and now include 6th grade. (The previous ratios were 700:1 and did not include 6th grade.) Each school will get counseling services at least once a month. With this change, more schools will have the opportunity to have experts counseling struggling students and making sure they fulfill all their academic requirements.

 Article 12 – Transfer and Vacancy Policy

OEA Members across the district have let the bargaining team know what they value in a vacancy/transfer policy. They value seniority rights for those displaced by no fault of their own and they value making sure that teachers new to their sites are on board with the vision of their school. This new process upholds these two values by creating a compensated Personnel Committee, and ensuring that teachers in the Talent Pool (teachers displaced of no fault of their own) retain the right to choose a site based on their seniority. Many schools have already been using some form of a hiring committee. These folks were usually hand picked by the principal and unpaid. In the new process, the Personnel Committee is elected by teachers at the site and are a majority of the decision making body. For two phases of the new process, Talent Pool teachers must engage with sites with vacancies, and also retain the right to choose whichever vacancy they see fit based on their seniority.

The new process also addresses the issue of principals hiding vacancies until the summer time, giving them the time to cherry pick internal and external hires. In the new process, external hires and voluntary transfers (for whom vacancies are usually hidden) are only allowed in the process at the very beginning (before consolidation happens) and AFTER  Phases 2 and 3, when Talent Pool teachers have priority.

In order to be competitive with other districts, we must be able to hire during the school year. No one wants to go into the summer not knowing where they are working the next year, it is not good for schools, it is not good for teachers.  With this new system, the bargaining team expects that the majority of positions will be filled before the end of Phase 3.

 Article 24: Increased Compensation

This compensation package includes a guaranteed 8% raise, some of which is retroactive, and historic language ensuring that teacher salaries and raises are calculated into the OUSD budget from the beginning. It also includes “positive contingency” language that gives OEA members more money when the district gets more money. The bargaining team and CTA consultants have been monitoring the CA state budget process and are confident that we will see some extra compensation through these positive contingencies.

The 2.5% increase that comes into effect in January 2016 includes 1.65% compensation for increasing weekly minimum days by 30 minutes for teacher collaboration. This collaboration will not begin until Fall 2016. The Faculty Council at each school will use the Spring 2016 semester to figure plan how this collaboration will look at their site. At the beginning of the bargaining process, OUSD wanted us to have an extended day with zero compensation and with the district dictating how the time was used. The bargaining team heard from sites that they do need more collaboration time with colleagues and have made sure it is compensated and controlled at the school site.  In addition, sites that do not have these minimum days will still get the 2.5% increase in compensation.

Overall, This compensation package is a step towards the median of Alameda County. After approving this contract, we can focus on lobbying Sacramento to make sure even more money is allocated to education budgets in the future.

 Details of the compensation package:

2% raise effective July 2014

1% raise effective Feb 1, 2015

2.5% raise effective June 30, 2015

2.5% effective Jan 1, 2016

     =8% raise by January 2016

 Contingent funds/ raises — The contingency language is based on how much money OUSD gets from CA.  The more money we get, the more money teachers get in the form of one-time money (bonus) and on-going raises.

2014-2015, 33% of any “one-time unrestricted funds” (i.e. LCAP funds) OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward a one time bonus for teachers by Oct 31, 2015

2015-2016, 39% of any money OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward an ongoing teacher salary raise, on top of the aforementioned %’s

2015-2016, 39% of any “one-time unrestricted funds” (i.e. LCAP funds) OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward a one time bonus for teachers by Oct 31, 2015

2016-2017, tiered percentage amounts for all funds above what is projected. This money will be added as an ongoing raise.

BREAKING NEWS: According to the latest assessment by our CTA advisor, the Mayor’s May revision estimate for the ‘14-15 school year  is >2.5% additional (on top of the 2% and 1% half year on going). That means in excess of 5% retro pay, and 5.5% on going effective July 1, 2015. This new compensation formula will most likely be a BIG WIN for OEA!

Article 15- SDC Caseload Limits

SDC Caseload Limits are now embedded in the contract. Although they are not hard caps, it is historic that they are even mentioned. There is no regulation of SDC class size at the federal level, and only 31 states have state guidelines. The CA state guideline is 28:1,  A ratio much higher than the proposed soft caps. Including soft caps and a detailed way of reporting class sizes above those caps, is a strong step in the right direction. I am confident that we are moving closer to being one of the few districts with hard caps for SDC classes. We now have an institutionalized way to gather data on class sizes, a more competitive compensation package to attract teachers, and a contractual starting point. One way we will ensure that we have good data and oversight is the creation of a new Special Education Faculty Council (Art 16) that can help monitor these issues and problem solve anything that comes up.

We also need to consider the role that the parent choice in the enrollment process has in creating inequitable SDC class sizes across the district. Why are parents choosing some schools over others? What can we do to ensure families have good choices in their neighborhoods? Once we have more detailed data about caseloads from the next two years, OEA will be in a better position to bargain hard caps.

 Health Benefits Governing Board

The creation of the Health Benefits Governing Board (HBGB) is comprised of representatives from all of the unions in OUSD. Instead of having the district decide on the future of our health benefits, OUSD’s workers will be able to collaborate with each other to decide on how best to ensure that we maintain a choice of benefit providers while also keeping cost low for both the district and individuals. The district will no longer be able to try to bargain healthcare as a part of a compensation package.

The Bargaining Team, Executive Board, CAT Team and Site Reps have done extensive outreach during this bargaining period. We have found that there are many members who want movement away from the status quo, especially where Article 12 is concerned. This Tentative Agreement reflects a merging of varied OEA member opinions.  The bargaining team had a difficult job. We have 2300 members, all with unique experiences, and it was their job to represent all of us. In addition, bargaining is a process in which you put out your ideal offer, and then each side makes moves that stay true to their values while also taking the other side’s values into consideration. I trust that this is the best possible offer the bargaining team could get at this time.

It would be devastating to have to go back to the bargaining table. The longer we drag out this process, the longer we will have to worry about low pay, conditions that do not help teacher retention issues, and the possibility of having a contract imposed on us. If we approve this Tentative Agreement, we can focus on advocating for an increased education budget at the state level, resources for students dealing with trauma, and strengthening teacher voice in policy making. In two years, we go back to the bargaining table and can build upon the progress we’ve made this round.


**What can you do to ensure that your opinion on the

Tentative Agreement (TA) is heard?**

1.  Email members of the Executive Board and let them know that you support the bargaining team and the TA.  We will be taking a recommendation vote on  the TA and your supportive voice needs to be heard.

 2.  Let your school’s OEA Rep know that you support the TA, speak about specific articles that resonate with you.  Rep Council will soon be taking a recommendation vote on the TA. Reps need to hear from folks with all opinions.  

 3.  Attend the TA membership ratification vote, Wednesday, June 3, 2:00 at Oakland High School.  Carpool with folks from your staff. Encourage everyone you know to take 10 minutes to come out to vote on the TA. Exercise your rights! Have your voice heard!


Stay Teaching… Less Likely in Oakland than Elsewhere in the US?

For years, reporters and pundits have cited the same statistic: 50 percent of American teachers leave the classroom within their first five years of teaching. A recent study conducted by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington, DC, think tank, calls into question this statistic. According to the CAP analysis, just 30 percent of teachers nationwide leave within the first five years. When I read this, I thought: Great news!

My optimism about teacher retention was tempered, however, when I learned this OUSD-specific number: 75 percent of teachers who joined OUSD in 2007 left the district within five years, according to preliminary data from OUSD’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program. It makes me wonder, just what is driving this massive disparity between teacher retention across the country and in Oakland? To be fair, some of the OUSD teachers are probably leaving Oakland for other districts, so this isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing where our teachers go when they leave: the district does not appear to survey exiting teachers. Regardless I think it’s pretty clear that Oakland has a teacher retention problem, relative to other districts.

I think I can guess what most of you are thinking about these numbers: Oakland is a tough place to work. Our kids experience trauma outside the classroom that can lead to challenging behaviors in the classroom. We teachers are paid less than many of our local counterparts. Teachers need opportunities for advancement to stay in their schools.

I agree that these factors likely influence teacher retention in Oakland. I also think there is a major factor that isn’t being talked about as much: new teacher support. As a teacher who is in my first year of teaching in Oakland and my third year of teaching overall, I can tell you that the amount and quality of support I’ve received in my first few years of teaching has played a huge role in keeping me in the classroom. I can also tell you that when support has been lacking, it has significantly increased the likelihood that I will burn out quickly.

I have been lucky to work at a school in Los Angeles and at Think College Now Elementary here in Oakland, both of which are schools that prioritize giving new teachers additional support: through invaluable observations and feedback, through modeling by excellent teachers, and through high-quality professional learning opportunities. But there’s only so much a school with limited resources can do.

When I came to Oakland, I was expected to teach several subjects in ways that were completely new to me: reader’s workshop, writer’s workshop, a different math curriculum, a different phonics curriculum, and a different approach to guided reading. I was lucky that my school sent me to a training on the new math curriculum during the short time period between when teachers come back to work and when school starts. But I had to start teaching all the other curricula with no formal training. That, plus being in new school environment where so many things were different from my previous school, was a recipe for misery. I felt l like a failure for at least two months. And feeling like a failure is not conducive to teacher retention.

I worry that when teachers get off to a rough start like I did—whether it’s their first of teaching overall or their first year in Oakland—they start burning out immediately. And when burnout starts right way, and is combined with the other challenges Oakland teachers face, it contributes to dismal teacher attrition numbers like those seen in OUSD for the 2007 cohort.

So what do you think about these attrition statistics? Do you think better new teacher support is a key lever here, or are other factors more important? Share your comments below.

The Most Informative Blog You’ll Ever Read About Oakland’s Call for Quality Schools

Senior Policy Fellow, Rachel Korschun, did extensive research about the Call for Quality Schools initiative, led by Superintendent Antwan Wilson, currently causing so much confusion and controversy in Oakland. 

Read here for an excellent overview of the situation.  The blog includes links galore, so you can check out the information for yourself from its primary sources.

What is the Call for Quality Schools?

The Call for Quality Schools comes from the OUSD Board’s Quality Schools Development Policy which passed in April of 2013.  See Board Policy 6005 updated August 27th, 2014 for the updated policy. See the policy’s Administrative Regulations V4.4 (rev 2/7/15) and Feb 11th Board Presentation (downloads file).


How were the five Intensive Support Schools identified?

Schools were selected by the Board of Education in April 2014.

Going forward schools will be selected based on administration regulations process.

Schools will be identified by a number of different metrics:

School Quality Review

Strategic Regional Analysis (large file download)

Strategic Regional Analysis (overview)

Balanced Scorecard

+ School Performance Framework (under development)

+ Student Performance Data

+ Site Utilization & Enrollment Projections

See slide 4 and page 21 Goal III Section B.


Which schools were selected?

The following five schools were selected by the Board of Education.  Click on each school for more information about academic and other information about each.

1. Brookfield

2. Castlemont

3. Fremont

4. Frick

5. McClymonds


What must be included in proposals for new school plans for Intensive Support Schools?

School sites, communities, and other providers are invited to submit proposals for new school plans that must include the following five “pillars.”

1. Educator Effectiveness Pipelines

2. Strong School Culture

3. Increased Time on Task

4. Rigorous Academics

5. Linked Learning/Personalized Learning

Each school also has district mandated site-specific criteria.

Click here for more information about the five Pillars.   Click here for the district’s research base.


Are schools provided with any supports to complete the proposals?

School sites are provided with $22,000 to support their creation of proposals. (See slide 11)


What if more than one proposal team forms at a school site?

If more that one team forms, the district will help facilitate a process to help them join.  Otherwise, supports will only be available to one team. (Letter from Allen Smith)


Once proposals are submitted who will evaluate them?

Site Based Committees (pg. 24) will evaluate them based on a rubric with these four categories:

+ School Culture

+ Leadership

+ Educational Program

+ Teaching

Site-based Committee rosters are available here.


How are stakeholders involved?

Here is an overview of the different bodies through which stakeholders are involved. (Spanish version)

Here is a graphic of the different bodies for community stakeholders and their roles in the process.


Who makes the final decision on which proposals are accepted?

The School Board makes the final decision. The Superintendent will make a final recommendation to the Board for approval based on feedback from the (1) School Site Based Committees and the (2) Academic Review Board.

Academic Review board composition for 2014-2016.  Click here for the explanation of academic review boards (pg. 24).


When does implementation begin for these plans?

There are two possible timelines.

Under Timeline I, after plans are selected, design teams enter the Program Development Planning Phase to prepare for school opening in the Fall of 2016.

Timeline II results in a new school opening in Fall 2017.

Four of the five schools are on Timeline I. Brookfield Elementary is on Timeline II.


Can charter schools submit a proposal?

Yes. As a condition of acceptance, charters must agree to participate in OUSD’s special education programs, abide by the same discipline policies as OUSD schools, and participate in OUSD’s options process.

Click here for the district’s explanation of why charter’s are involved in the Call (pg. 3)

Update: No charter school proposals have been submitted for any schools on Timeline I.


Does the Call for Quality Schools mean that charter schools are taking over?

Charter schools may submit proposals for quality school plans for any school.

Charter schools in this process must still be approved by the Board of Education.


Is what’s happening here similar to what Superintendent Wilson implemented in Denver schools?

Superintendent Wilson was an assistant superintendent in Denver where he worked specifically with turnaround schools.  In Denver they followed a similar intensive schools and Call for Quality Schools process for consecutive years.

See the Denver Public Schools’ website for their version of the Call for Quality Schools.


Does the Call for Quality Schools process relate to contract negotiations with the teacher’s union?

Article 12, which deals with teacher tenure and reassignment, & Article 27, which regulates school governance freedoms, both impact the Call for Quality Schools Process.

Click these links for the district’s package proposal in bargaining, the union’s most recent bargaining updates, and current contract language.


Important Websites:


http://qualitycommunityschools.weebly.com/proposal-teams-iss.html (regularly updated)


Educators: How Will Wilson’s 5-Year Plan Affect Teaching Policy in Oakland Schools?

Superintendent Wilson released his updated plan, “A Pathway to Excellence, 2015-2020”, at the last OUSD School Board meeting. The plan focuses on three primary areas: Effective Talent Programs, an Accountable School District, and Quality Community Schools.

Wilson writes, “Someday, somewhere in America, a school district and a city will fulfill its obligation to its children. Why not now? Why not Oakland?”

To watch the video of Wilson unveiling his plan at the school board meeting, click here.

To read Wilson’s gripping reflections on the recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York, and their implications for our work here in Oakland, click here.

What are your reactions to the plan and what implications do you think Wilson’s plan might have on teaching policy and practice in Oakland schools? Is this the plan that will move Oakland from a community with great potential to one that has exceeded it?

We’d love to hear from you!

Are “Teacher Professional Partnerships” a viable career ladder option?

Are there any Oakland teachers interested in starting Teacher Professional Partnerships? This article by DC blogger Angel Cintron Jr suggests that while not a silver bullet, they offer teachers some sorely needed career ladder options as well as the chance to put our expertise out there for some needed change.

Wilson Shares His Story, His Denver Experience, and His Drive for College Readiness

New OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson speaks to KQED Forum’s Michael Krasny about his past accomplishment and his present mission to get Oakland’s students college-ready. He speaks on different approaches to improving performance for young people and answers questions from the community.


Download audio (MP3) to listen to their discussion.

What do you think about Wilson’s interview? Share your thoughts below!