Ever since a parcel tax for Oakland teachers fell flat without the support of the local teachers union, a committee has been meeting to try again, this time with a broader support base. There’s been talk of placing a tax measure on the June 2010 ballot.
And once again, talks about ways to boost teacher salaries in the midst of ongoing state budget cuts — and tense contract negotiations — have run right into a teachers union sticking point: whether any of the money raised by local property taxes should go to the city’s 30-some independently run, non-unionionized, public charter schools.
No way, the union says, even if most of the money would go to its own members.
In fact, the Oakland Education Association’s leadership recently passed a resolution, which they presented to the committee: It stated that “we would not participate in any parcel tax coalition that advocated giving money to charter schools,” said union president Betty Olson-Jones, who has served on the committee.
Olson-Jones said she polled her membership before voting on the anti-charter resolution, and that 70 percent of those who responded backed it. She wouldn’t say how many teachers participated in the poll, which was distributed in an e-mail blast, but she said it was “a good sampling.” She said she had personal e-mail addresses for about two-thirds of her members.
“I know this is a possibility of getting a raise for teachers, but at what cost?” Olson-Jones said.
It remains to be seen how OEA’s stance will shape the language of the measure — or whether a tax would pass without union backing. Do you think the measure should include charter schools? If it does, do you think the union should set aside its principles on charters to support an effort that could result in better pay for its members (and, maybe, help to avert a strike)?