Will school board put adults ahead of children?
July 2, 2009
In a bid to tighten its grip on the San Diego Unified School District, the teachers union is quietly seeking a contentious contract provision that would give it a virtual veto over any changes in the classroom. If the school board yields to the union's demand, operational control of the school district would effectively shift to organized labor, and Superintendent Terry Grier's ambitious reform plans would be blunted.
The school board's union-friendly majority — Shelia Jackson, John Lee Evans, Richard Barrera — have never said no to the teachers union on a major issue...
At issue is a controversial concept called “maintenance of standards.”...
The provision essentially means that the school board and the superintendent may introduce no changes in a teacher's work routine without the union's approval. In practice, “maintenance of standards” perpetuates the status quo — the antithesis of reform — which suits the calcified teachers union just fine.
For instance, the San Diego school district currently has plans to introduce Smart Boards in all elementary classrooms. A Smart Board is an interactive audio-visual tool which is widely praised for engaging students in learning. But in order to employ Smart Boards effectively, teachers must undergo several hours of training. Under a rigid “maintenance of standards” contract clause, the school district would not be able to introduce Smart Boards unless the teachers union agreed to the training.
The San Diego teachers union's sweeping proposal stipulates that “all terms and conditions of employment” that were in effect on June 30, 2008, “shall be “maintained.” Even trustee Barrera, himself a former union organizer, says the teachers union's demand is “too broad.”