Let the negotiations begin!


I just finished writing a really long story about the Oakland teacher’s union’s first contract proposal, so I’ll be concise. Here is what the OEA wants:

  • A 20 percent increase in the salary schedule (a starting teacher’s salary would be closer to $48,000, rather than just below $40,000).
  • More teachers. Only 15 students per teacher in the district’s lowest-scoring schools. Classes of 20 everywhere else.
  • Smaller case loads for nurses, counselors and special education staff.
  • Academic flexibility. Pacing guides would be optional, not mandatory.

Some of you liked the “shoots for the moon” title (and photo), and others thought it made the proposal sound completely unrealistic. Is it? What do you think about the OEA proposal?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Sue

    I think it’s a great starting point for negotiations. I doubt that they’ll get everything they’re asking for, but wouldn’t it be wonderful for OUSD students if they did.

    Honestly, I think teachers should get paid more than I do (applications systems engineer at a major financial services corporation), because I could not do what they do every day. If that means repealing Prop. 13, and doubling my property taxes, I’ll sign the petitions to put it on the ballot and I’ll vote for it.

    (Boy, am I gonna get ripped for that last sentence – let the anti-tax ranting begin!)

  • Ted Allen

    “Shoots for the moon” is a fine title. When our nation applied the requisite resources toward that goal in the 1960’s, we got there.

  • Concerned teacher

    It is a tricky web we weave when we ask for the 20% for teachers in a fiscal year that we are receiving cuts of over 4 billion dollars.
    With Measure G simply maintaining funding we have been receiving for about 10 years, where will the increased revenue we need to fund a (well deserved) raise come from?
    Its a sad state when we are begging for scraps at the district level instead of unifying as unions and demanding more directly from the state.

  • Hbert

    There’s a conception that teachers are underpaid. As a 5th-year teacher, I have seen the majority of my colleagues being nothing more than cogs in a public system, who do not deserve to be paid at the compensation levels that private sector employees who lack union protection and must adhere to accountability and standards and must do everything in their power to get the job done. Good teachers should get paid at a level comparable to private sector managers / professionals but the poor teachers shouldn’t get paid more than a babysitter.

  • John

    I loved Concerned Teacher’s first sentence. Yell it from the mountains! Or at least at an OEA meeting, with a megaphone.

    Unfortunately Hbert’s suggestion of BIG BUCKS for GOOD teachers and little bucks for BAD (“babysitter”)teachers would be hard to implement (even with A LOT more money) because there are too many variables.

    By the way, how does one judge the worth of a principal who “serves at the pleasure” of the superintendent who “serves at the pleasure” of the board of education who “serves at the pleasure” of the electorate, who aren’t criticized or called to task by the board or superintendent or principal for failing to partner with their child’s teacher & school in educating their child.

    But then I suppose it wouldn’t be right for board members to criticize parents because they’re just (unpaid) babysitters who might well not feel too pleasurable about politician board members (& those who “serve at THEIR pleasure”) telling THEM they have an obligation to partner in the education of their child instead of limiting their role to before and after school “babysitter.”

    But then I guess parents are pretty much the same everywhere, RIGHT? They’re all just babysitters and playmates for their children, RIGHT? Given this equality of parental role it must be that hill schools generally have the BEST teachers (accounting for higher school test scores there) AND flat land schools generally have the WORST (“babysitter”) teachers (accounting for lower school test scores there). RIGHT?

    But maybe, just maybe, ALL PARENTS BEING EQUAL, if those “babysitter” teachers in the flat land schools “did everything in their power to get the job done” they would get the same positive results as the good teachers in the hills? RIGHT?

    Well I guess that about covers it.

    Burp! Oops! Please excuse me.

  • GimmieShelter

    Here we go, years of wrangling, posturing and advancing various agendas by the administration and the teachers union.

    Seems to me teachers and other district workers deserve alot more say — over curriculum and evaluation of school principals — and, in general, a little more pay.

    Also, since the economy is so rough for more and more of us, supporting this parcel tax on next month’s ballot is gonna be tough.

    Given the desperate state of the district and the exceeding high pay of state administrator Matthews, lead Service Officer Moran, “Accountability” chief Vital — omg! — , academic head Stam, school principals and other administrative staff — maybe they could take a temporary one year 5-10% pay cut. All of them could be joined in this effort with those heads of school networks and other senior downtown staff each of which make more than the highest paid teachers.

    Perhaps the teachers union, AFSCME, SEIU and other unions could then each match that sum and the money collected could go to kids books, transportation vouchers, pay for science “enrichment” — you tell me — at some of the middle and elementary schools in need.

    OK, never mind.

  • sandra

    Just so you know….yes, the first set you mentioned are paid big bucks!!! Their secretaries have assistants and clerks. School Site Administrators no. They get more or less what the teachers get. Most AP’s and beginning principals get less than the teachers for example. They are supposed to work 7.5 hours (teachers work 6 hours for the same amount), actually they (administrators) work more like 10.5 hours daily including Saturdays. They work as subs, nurses, coaches, supervisors, accountability TSA’s, meeting facilitators, teachers, and everything else that needs to be done. Lately, I can say without question, there is more paperwork than before. It just happens to be on the computer.

  • http://wwwstatic.kern.org/gems/fcmat/CALIFORNIASTATELOANSTOSCHOOL.pdf Pat Hudson

    Let’s see, it is around 2000 or so. The State gives school districts around 10% to make up for under funding during the 90s recession. So Oakland gives its teachers a 20+% raise. By 2002, the Oakland school District is sinking like a rock and needs a $100 million loan from the State to stay open. So who is going bail out Oakland this time when the raises do not match revenues?

  • Victor

    I agree with Pat Hudson, I think it’s a little to early to suggest a teacher raise, or any raise for this matter, when OUSD is in state control. I would understand that the image the OUSD would want to show is that mistakes have been processed, and more feverent accountability would be practice once local oversight is returned;however, to demonstrate an increase in spending when the budget hasn’t been adjusted is bad press and a bad indication to the state.
    I believe in attracting new teachers and accomodating them in Oakland, and increase city and OUSD communication on improving conditions for them to stay in Oakland. Of course there must be a huge sway in managing the fiscal year, cutting certain programs to make up for other expenditures. Perhaps the class ratio could be an issue worth discussing, but I think cutting down on some salaries across the board would be a necessity.
    In short, if the teacher union wants a salary, I would say wait on the demonstrations, lobby the state top return local oversight, and then encourage the district with student input have a complete overhaul on OUSD spending.

  • John

    I believe Sandra makes some good points, especially with regard to teachers who are UP THERE on the salary scale. There’s not that much financially gained for an experienced teacher to transfer to a site administrative position with longer work hours and calendar work year.

    Because site administrators “serve at the pleasure of the superintendent,” they can get the boot, even when they’re doing a good job. For example, the Chinese-American principal I worked under was competent, on task, and achieving positive results (in school discipline and academic achievement) at a very tough school. She often wouldn’t go home until 9:30pm or later. However, the African American community wanted an Afro-American principal and put pressure on the superintendent to have the Chinese-American principal replaced by an Afro-American principal. The superintendent acquiesced and, as it turned out, made a change that was terrible and contributed to the closure of the school.

    It was not pleasurable feel pressure from the Afro-American community causing the superintendent to make a politically expedient decision that offered him, and probably the board member representing that school area, immediate short term benefit.

    It is certainly true that “serving (holding an administrative position) at the pleasure of the superintendent” can have an unpleasureable down side. A teacher enjoys considerably more ‘superintendent displeasure’ protection than a site administrator.

    Unfortunately, many in OEA’s Land of Oz like to vilify site administrators simply because they’re site administrators who are sometimes misrepresented as financial fat cats with cushy jobs. It’s the bread and butter of teacher unions to be divisive – sometimes even when it’s not warranted.

    I would encourage teachers to acquire and read a copy of the United Administrators of Oakland contract. I doubt most teachers would want to trade their job protections for those of a site administrator. Check out and compare the Assistant Principal and Principal Salary scales while you’re at it (& factor in the longer work day & calendar year to their salary compensation). You might also want to compare CA Ed code protections for teachers VS the absence of same for administrators.

    I’ve certainly known more than several site administrators who were grossly ineffective and derelict in their duties. However, because they were liked by, and “serve at the pleasure of the superintendent,” or one of his/her subordinate department heads, their job remained secure. Such relationships can make life hell for competent teachers and contribute to the closure of good schools when bad ‘administrators aren’t left behind’ because they pleasure those in higher places.

    When ones sole (or primary) means of job security is pleasuring a superintendent the consequences can cut both ways.

  • John

    TODAY’S HEADLINES: “EU Economy Chief Blames huge US debt for plunging shares on world exchanges, Bush and Congress discuss stimulus plan; Feds cut key interest rate. Yahoo cuts jobs. World markets plunge.”

    Meanwhile in the ‘OEA Land of Oz’ IT’S TIME FOR: “A 20 percent increase in the salary schedule. More teachers. Only 15 students per teacher in the district’s lowest-scoring schools. Classes of 20 everywhere else. ETC.” All this in a school district still under state receivership, and in a state with other school district’s (not under receivership) facing financial hard times in the face of a mega state funding crisis.

    The over heard OEA herd chant: “THE MONEY’S THERE!”

    Go OEA! Go Raiders!

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