Quolke's Corner CMSD Board Meeting, Cleveland Plan, SBB

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Quolke’s Corner

CMSD Board Meeting, Cleveland Plan, SBB

I want to thank our CTU members who showed up in force at the March 26 CBOE meeting at Collinwood.  What a tremendous showing, and our message rang loud and clear to all those in attendance.   Whether it was the lack of investment we are seeing from SBB, the broken promises in our evaluation and compensation system, or the amount of over testing occurring in this district, our members, our retirees, and our friends in the community stepped up and were incredible advocates.  WE CANNOT STOP HERE…while the turnout was great, we need to duplicate or increase that for the April 28th meeting.

Once again administrators lined up at the mic to praise SBB, even if they were getting their budgets slashed.  What stood out to me was the East Tech Principal.   He really outdid himself and could be the poster child for “the rhetoric doesn't match the reality.”  In his speech, he droned on about how he lost teachers in 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, that this was nothing new; it’s better now because he has a say in what should stay.  REALLY?! EARTH TO CMSD…we had almost 2,000 layoffs in those years, the district had not passed a new levy in 15 years, class sizes were bursting at the seams, the district laid off social workers, nurses, attendance liaisons and threatened to cut preschool, sports, and transportation.

This community and Cleveland voters passed a levy in November of 2012.  SBB simply continues that slash-and-burn mentality, and doesn’t live up to any of the promises of investment in our schools that everyone expected with the passage of the levy.  As our members said loud and clear…SHAME ON YOU.  I really shouldn’t vent about the Principals on this one.   You see, the scariest part in this story is that the district held a principals’ meeting at Collinwood, right before the board meeting, to line up speakers and prep them on how great SBB is….  And that was the best reasoning they could come up with to speak in support of SBB? As I said before…REALLY, EARTH to CMSD!

Unlike the administrators, our members spoke passionately against SBB, presenting facts and addressing the critical services that SBB forced schools to cut.  Whether it was cutting back on art, music, media, and PE to fund a Dean of Culture, or cutting back on services to students with disabilities, SBB doesn’t make sense.  Especially when increases in the number of central office staff seem to continue non-stop.

But we also used our voices to express anger at the district for not living up to their promises made in the Cleveland Plan.  How the district abandoned its promise to develop a differentiated compensation system that included not only rewards for performance but rewarded professional growth as well.  How the district continues to boast about its new compensation system when it is nothing more than a glorified merit pay system. 

Perhaps the greatest amount of anger was directed at district administrators who use our evaluation system as nothing more than a “gotcha” moment.  Hundreds of CTU members echoed in agreement when asked if they or a colleague they knew had been a victim of abuse and misuse of our TDES system. 

I challenged board members to go out to your buildings and to talk with teachers.  Ask them if they feel like this district views them as leaders and with respect. Ask them if the district is delivering on the promises they made.  Ask our members if this district is more top-down and heavy-handed than it has ever been.  Ask our members if they feel our teacher evaluation system, our compensation system, or our professional development system is an investment in our workforce and is being implemented fairly.

When I spoke, I gave three examples of how our members are being mistreated.  I asked the board members to go out to Ben Franklin and ask teachers if their principal, Rachel Snider, who made a mess of the evaluation system last year at Lincoln-West, is back at it again this year.  Ask her staff if she is treating them as professionals like the CMSD website rhetoric would have us believe.

Go out to John Marshall, where dedicated staff waited years to have their school rebuilt and are now going to be displaced and put through a re-interview process.  Ask them if they feel valued and respected.

Go out to Robert Jamison, an Investment School where staff signed a commitment letter, did extra PD, put in extra time, and lived up to their promise.  Yet Principal Cooper does not submit paperwork and her staff has not been paid for their additional work for over two years.  Ask them if they feel that this district treats them with respect and dignity.

I think you all know we could add a story from almost every school, at least every school in Andrew Koonce’s region, to this list.  The reality is that we head into negotiations early next school year.  The district’s inability or unwillingness to deliver on the promises they made in the Cleveland Plan, and in our Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2013, has set the tone for those negotiations.  In all likelihood it will be brutal.  It doesn't have to be, but as we are reminded when we go to the district web page, a clock is ticking. Time hasn’t run out yet but it is running out quickly.  The next few months will continue to set the tone.  The district can continue to abandon their promises or they can begin to deliver on their promises.   All of Cleveland is watching.

Relax and enjoy the rest of spring break.  We will need all of you at board meetings, rallies and mobilization efforts in the upcoming months.