Quolke's Corner 6/21/12

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QUOLKE’S CORNER # 128
Fact-Finder’s Report Rejected…What’s next?
 
First, let me wish everyone a safe and relaxing summer. Between summer school, summer programs, continuing education, license renewals, scope and sequence, TDES training, etc. we know that most educators are really working throughout the summer months. With that said, I hope everyone finds some time this summer to recharge their batteries after what was, once again, a challenging school year. I also want to thank each and every CTU member for the overwhelming support of solidarity while rejecting a fact-finder’s report that was in no way “good for students and fair to teachers”. The question now on most everyone’s mind is “What’s next?”
 
Both the CTU and CMSD have agreed to get back to the table quickly and attempt to resolve our differences.   We return to negotiations on Monday, June 25th with the District and a federal mediator. Ideally, we would have a contract that members could vote on shortly after we return to school in late August. However, the events surrounding the fact-finders vote has not made for a productive climate to reach a settlement. 
 
If you read the Plain Dealer (Ohio’s thickest newspaper) editorial on June 9th, you saw that the editorial board opined that the CTU mistakenly dug in against the proposed concessions and that we should reconsider our rejection. Further they referenced that other unions have taken cuts and therefore we should happily accept this proposal.   What amazed me was that the PD chose not editorialize about the Fact-Finders comments regarding the district’s financial numbers:
 
“The Fact-Finder found that the District’s data and support for its forecasted deficits failed to paint a firm picture of just what its actual deficit is at any given time.”
 
“The set of assumptions came across as somewhat “shifting”, and the Fact-Finder was left with a better understanding of the CTU’s perception that it was chasing a moving target.”
 
Yet, while advocating that the CTU take $13 million in concessions, they quoted CEO Eric Gordonas saying the remaining $6 million can be made up by eliminating the districts unneeded buildings this summer.   Less than 3 days after we soundly rejected the fact-finders report, the district finds $6 million. Perhaps, that is not news for Ohio’s thickest newspaper. 
 
The editorial does go on to say:
 
'On one point, the union reasonably argues that teachers shouldn't be expected to make concessions if none is being asked of school principals. The teachers are right. Gordon argues the district risks losing its best principals if their pay continues to erode, but for now, the extent of the district's financial challenges make shared sacrifice necessary.”
 
Cleveland could lose the best principals if pay continues to erode??? What about the teachers, paraprofessionals, and healthcare providers? These are the people that actually make learning happen every day. These are the most important and needed people to this education system. We cannot afford to continue to lose the best educators either.
 
This is symptomatic of the general lack of respect that the District’s lead negotiator (Nick Jackson) displays toward educators. Other district unions have settled their contracts, yet when comparing savings he calculates the savings very differently and (quite frankly) disses the CTU when refusing to consider the value we bring to the table. 
 
Finally, the last time I looked only 3 people from the CMSD signed off on the Race to the Top grant that brought $30 million to the CMSD in 2010 and was a major funding source of the CMSD Transformation Plan: the CEO, the Board Chair and the CTU President. Not the principals, not the supervisors, not the barrier breakers, not the action team coaches, not any other union, not Nick Jackson or the district’s negotiating team, not legislators, not the Mayor.   No, at a time when we are taking money out of our pockets, CTU is also bringing dollars to this district that no other group could have brought.  
 
Yes, we go back to the table Monday. Our goal remains to get a contract that is good for kids and fair for our members. Yet, as you can see, we have some major obstacles to overcome.  
 
In Union,
 
David