Saturday, February 26, 2011

Somebody's Awake - A Response to the 11th Hour Contracts

Somebody is awake and alert.  We received this from one of our readers..

Tim Culver, Editorialist for the SPEA newsletter

Instead of the usual senseless drivel and vacation photos, Dr. Culver took the opportunity in his latest installment of underwirED (Dispatches from the District Doorknocker) to tell us how bleak the future is for our children because of laws proposed and yet to be proposed. The double whammy of “extreme changes” and “foreshadowed massive cuts to schools” promises to lead to much gloom, despair, and agony on us. Deep dark depression, excessive misery is also a distinct possibility.

According to Culver (channeling Martin Luther King, Jr., who once faced a similar situation when people beat his friends, burned their churches down and crosses in their yards, and lynched them), “…we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems to close around us.” Though Dr. Culver may be minimizing his abject suffering compared to the trials of Dr. King, he is right about one thing—the administration and the board are in the dark, and trying to find a way to bring the community in too.

Culver tells us that “we need your informed involvement and we need your voice.” What he doesn't tell us is that there was a Friday night closed session to exchange contract proposals with SPEA and Local 60 that, as of Thursday night, had not been drafted yet. There is also an item on the school board agenda for Monday night for "Action Regarding Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill".  This leads inquiring minds to wonder why the Negotiations Committee would find it so urgent to exchange contracts, when the only thing to bargain under the proposed law is wages.  Surely that is not notice for the ratification of two new contracts to slide in under the wire (Hmmm...underwirED) before the legislation gets signed.

If that is the plan, the resulting contract may need to be approved Monday, with less than one business day for review. Over the course of his blog entry, Dr. Underwire preaches (much like Martin Luther King, Jr.) the essential role of informed involvement of the community, but neglects to mention that he and the board are on the verge of committing millions of district dollars on absolutely no notice or time for input by essential stakeholders. If that is the plan, it kinda' sounds like his criticism of the budget repair bill, now doesn't it?

The last time a complicated document that had a drastic impact on our district and was rammed through with no notice or opportunity for input, it was cause for half of the district's teachers to violate their contract and force the district to cancel school for the day. Many of them cut class to walk in circles around the Capital condemning the lack of openness, transparency, and deliberation in the actions of the Governor.

Greasing a contract through under the wire might be a good idea, but there is no way for the community to ever know. For Dr. Culver to go into such great detail about the new law and it's impact on the district without mentioning the impending contract would be dishonest. It would be sleazy. It would contradict everything he says about the need for informed opinions from the community. If the board goes along with this and slides a contract through without community involvement, they will hear about it in October. And two of them may hear about it in April.

Then again, that may not be the plan.  Maybe I am just paranoid due to the many other times that the district has slid major actions under the wire by closed session shenanigans, obfuscation, and lightning-strike action.  I guess I'll have to check the Star's website on Tuesday.