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!

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A Leap of Faith: Redesigning Teacher Compensation

This report on teacher compensation from the School Finance Redesign Project at Center on Reinventing Public Education, published in June 2008 by Michael DeArmond and Dan Goldhaber, analyzes three teacher compensation studies that strive to answer the question “Are there good ideas about better ways to spend money to attract and reward quality educators?”. The study considers combat pay, pay reform, and private sector v. teacher salary markets.

“To explore how high incentives have to be to attract people with technical degrees and strong academic backgrounds to teaching and to attract teachers to work in high-needs schools, we compared the structure of compensation in the teacher labor market to the structure of compensation in other labor markets…We also found that regardless of college major or college selectivity, the longer a person teaches, the more his or her wages fall behind.” (6)