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    Friday
    Dec062013

    Collective Bargaining

    For educators in PUSD, their union contract should be as vital as their student gradebook or lesson planner. It’s a critical document that’s the culmination of the collective bargaining process. Understanding it and how it came about is critical to understanding how UTP impacts its members’ professional life in profound ways.

    At least once every month, sometimes more often, UTP and PUSD sit down to negotiate the terms for working in the District. Educators in UTP bargain a contract defining the issues for all members of the bargaining unit: teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, and speech therapists.

    On Sept. 22, 1975, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed CTA-sponsored Senate Bill 160 by state Sen. Al Rodda, known as the Educational Employment Relations Act or the Rodda Act, to give California public school teachers collective bargaining rights. The legislation established an administrative body that became the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

    Disputes over labor law are settled by filing an “unfair labor practice” charge with PERB. Disputes over sections of a labor contract are settled by filing grievances against the District.

    Once a UTP/PUSD contract settlement is reached, it must be ratified by a majority vote of UTP’s members, and then by the PUSD Board of Education. When the contract expires, the process begins again. If a state mediator cannot help break any bargaining impasse that occurs, and a non-binding report from a neutral fact-finder fails to resolve the crisis, only then can teachers strike.

    Not everything is negotiable. Critical job issues that are within the legal scope of bargaining include compensation, hours of work, safety matters, class size, evaluation and disciplinary procedures, health care, access to personnel files, preparation time, seniority, transfer rights, a grievance procedure with binding arbitration to settle major disputes, discrimination, job assignments, and early retirement.

    Issues not within the scope of bargaining include the District’s staffing needs, the District budget process, matters affecting employees outside the bargaining unit, the timing of layoffs, an advisory committee formed by the District, and access to information unrelated to UTP representation.

    Bargaining law levels the playing field. Teachers sit down as equals with administrators and both sides start the process with initial proposals. Even without today’s harsh economic climate, where many California school districts hit with cuts are trying to reduce health care benefits and salaries and impose furloughs or worse, the bargaining process has shown that teachers are willing to push back to protect their profession and their compensation.

    Before the historic Rodda Act of 1975 gave teachers real bargaining rights, they suffered under the toothless Winton Act, passed by the California Legislature in 1965 to pacify restless educators across the state.

    It allowed teachers to “meet and confer” with administrators on key issues, but little was accomplished as “meet and confer” degenerated into “meet and defer” as districts stonewalled. Districts were under no obligation to act on teachers’ proposals, and school boards had the final say anyway to do as they wished.

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    Friday
    Dec062013

    Special Education

    UTP believes that students with exceptional needs must be educated in the most appropriate placement and that many of these children can benefit by instruction in regular education classes. Class size/caseload limits are vital to supporting educators’ efforts to educate these students, and full funding is crucial to the program’s success.

    Appropriate Placement

    UTP believes Individuals with Exceptional Needs should be educated in the most appropriate placement, based on their Individual Educational Program (IEP). A continuum of placements should be available to meet the needs of these individuals for special education and/or related services, including regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. The impact of this continuum of placements must be bargained, especially when the issues involve class size, coordinated planning time, and appropriate inclusion programs. Greater emphasis must be placed on collaboration between regular education teachers and special education staff to improve and expand services to children.

    Special Education Programs: Foundation for Excellence

    UTP believes some children with disabilities can benefit from instruction provided by regular education. The District must comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including provisions protecting parent and student rights and establishing eligibility standards.

    Adequate funding is crucial to the success of these programs. Proposed reforms must be fully funded and appropriations must not be diverted to other programs. Reforms should be piloted before full implementation, and all staff should receive professional development – designed and provided by participating school personnel – prior to implementation.

    Special Education Plan Local Committee

    A committee within the District should create the local plan for special education. Composed of 25% administrators, 50% special education teachers, and 25% regular classroom teachers, the committee and the administrative entity of each agency should cooperatively develop and implement the local plan for special education. UTP should provide for the appropriate representation of regular and special educators.

    Caseload Waivers

    Mandated Special Education class size limits/specialist case load for programmatic and funding purposes are vital to ensuring these youngsters high quality instruction and support. All students provided direct service or consultation must be counted within the limits, including students who do not have Individual Educational Programs. These limits should be adjusted to reflect the number of schools a staff person covers, travel time, workload, severity of disabilities, IEP preparation, paperwork and assessments, and related issues. UTP believes waivers to these limits should be issued only in extraordinary circumstances.

     

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    Friday
    Dec062013

    Parents & Community

    A major factor in student success is an involved support system outside of school. When parents are involved in their children’s education, kids do better in school. A concerned community adds even more to the equation.

    Invest in PUSD Kids - go to http://iipk.org/

    Buy In. PUSD. - go to http://www.buyinpusd.com/

    Awareness Holidays

    In addition to the many activities CTA has designed to enhance family and community involvement in schools – and the efforts of our Institute for TeachingTeachers for Healthy Kids, Community Outreach, and Read Across America programs – CTA offers a variety of other activities and resources to promote awareness.

     

    COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

    Community Engagement efforts are an integral part of the organization's Strategic Plan. Community Engagement provides services to UTP in support of community engagement projects. The goal is to build strong, collaborative relationships between communities and UTP. These efforts focus on developing projects and partnerships in support of public schools and their surrounding communities.

    Friday
    Dec062013

    Testing and Standards

    Friday
    Dec062013

    School Safety

    CTA Opposes Efforts to Arm Educators

    School safety is a top priority and school districts should be working on their own safety systems while working with local law enforcement. Armed security should be left to the experts. But educators need and want continued training to help them spot potential mental health needs, bullying or high-risk behaviors.

    The idea of arming teachers is a preposterous, cynical and unworkable solution. Teachers are in our schools to educate our students and prepare them for the future.

    California’s educators overwhelmingly support stronger laws to ensure school safety and prevent gun violence. We strongly believe there must be a comprehensive approach based on input from communities and educators that includes access to counselors, mental health services, investing in infrastructure and critical programs in schools and campuses and commonsense gun safety measures like universal background checks for gun purchases and a ban on military style assault weapons.

     Read legislative bill AB 202 – School Marshall Plan

     Read CTA’s press release

    We Believe