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Teachers give union leaders the go-ahead

The vote is in: Union leadership is now authorized to call an indefinite strike as long as a council of representatives from each school approve it first. (As long as it’s less than 10 days long, it’s considered a “short strike” and it won’t need the council’s approval.) The proposal won 75 percent approval last night.

The turnout was roughly the same as it was in January – 755 votes out of a membership of 2,800, including substitutes,according to OEA’s website. That’s about 25 percent.

755 total votes
565 – yes
184 – no
6 – abstained

Katy Murphy

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

  • Longtime Oakland

    So, 565 votes out of 2,800 (25%) constitutes a mandate to strike? C’mon OEA, there are better ways to really find out what your membership wants, without making them sit through a 3 hour meeting. Or did you really only want to hear from the hard-cores?

    Good luck people, this is one teacher who isn’t striking. Been there, done that and it sucked.

  • MeritBased

    I don’t see a mandate to strike or take any other action as a result of this vote. Back to the bargaining table.

  • Jesse James

    This is the worst news ever. It is not a mandate. I agree with Longtime Oakland. These votes should be done like the elections: over a number of days, and at the school site so every member’s voice can be heard. Plenty of people didn’t vote; that must mean that plenty of people didn’t have access to the process. YUCK!

  • harold

    the meeting started late at 4:15 and was over at 6:30.

    …there was dissent and no one was unprofessional toward anyone for expressing their views.

    … you could vote at 5:15. i saw people get there at 5pm, vote 15 minutes later, then leave.

    no excuses, please …

  • J.R.

    I agree it will be awfully hard to convince taxpayers and parents with that turnout. It’s a dud that could blow-up right in their own collective faces if they choose to strike.

  • Oakland Educator

    Oh Oakland of blog posturing. It’s an authorization to call a strike if the district isn’t bargaining in good faith, and then only if the rep council approves it. No one is calling a huge work stoppage at this point.

    The bylaws say strike authorizations are in person, not by paper ballots at school sites. Every member was invited, and all invites specified the purpose of the meeting. People who chose not to go opted out; they weren’t excluded. They could have come straight from school, gotten their ballots, and left them with someone to turn in at 5:15; they could have come at 5:15, voted, and left; they could have come and stayed to hear all of the discussion. But if they didn’t come at all, they can’t complain about the result.

  • Curious Teach

    Unless the strike is authorized sometime within the next week while we are in CST/STAR testing, isn’t a strike kind of pointless? The district makes money every day teachers strike, they can use last years attendance and the standardized tests are done– just pay a few subs for all of June to put on movies… From what I can tell about the districts concern and care for its students and teachers with the proposed contract it doesn’t sound too far fetched…?

  • TheTruthHurts

    While I think a strike will be ineffective, I agree with Harold. Democracy is messy and apathy hurts. Sure, it would have been nice or “effective” to hold the vote over days at sites, but we all know unions want control which is why I believe many people didn’t show up because they didn’t want to deal with the “atmosphere.”

    Every election, millions don’t vote. We can’t even get the census turned in. Too bad, so sad. If it meant enough to be heard, people would show up. Instead, you’ve abdicated the authority you had and gave it to . . .

    Now we have a game of chicken with the kids being the losers.

  • Ms. J.

    From the email I received in response to a question posed to Betty Olson-Jones, I understood that the voting would only commence at 5:15; she did not make it clear to me that I could have come at 4, voted, and left (as cleverly suggested by #6).

    I really struggled over this yesterday, as I have young children whom I had to retrieve from child care and yet I did want to vote. Of course I could have gone all the way to Berkeley, picked them up, and then schlepped them all the way back, in heavy traffic, to try to find parking and carry/chivvy them into the auditorium, etc. But after I considered this, I thought–maybe my vote won’t make a difference anyway.

    And I did feel bad about this–I mean guilty–but I would have felt guilty putting my children through such tedium when it was pretty apparent what the result would be anyway.

    I don’t say I should be excused for not having voted, but I resent the way the vote occurred, and I do not feel represented by the union.

    And by the way, I have NEVER missed a political election, and filled out the census form on the day we received it, with excitement.

    But in both those cases, it is clear that my vote/presence is sought, as a part of our democracy; not to be cynical, but I feel the OEA does not really want to hear from all of its members.

    I am sure I am not the only one to feel this way.

  • Oakland Educator

    An open-ended strike, if called, would most likely be planned for early fall when average daily attendance starts counting again. Hopefully, however, the district will bargain in good faith, commit in writing to allocating 60% of future eligible funds to class size/compensation, etc. No one wants to strike, but no one wants to watch another talented cohort of teachers turn over either. It’s hard on the kids, community, and teachers who stay. It’s bad for everyone involved. We need a sustainable solution.

  • Jenna

    We stayed out last Thursday. We will miss no more days this school year no matter who gets in our face or takes pictures of our license plates.

  • Longtime Oakland

    Hey, I was at the meeting and I voted “No” to a strike authorization.

    In this economy, with double-digit unemployment in Oakland, the goodwill that we felt from the community last Thursday will evaporate quickly with a prolonged strike. Strikes hurt kids, families, teachers and schools. For the first time ever, I will cross a picket line if a strike is called.

  • oakey

    The union’s chickens will come home to roost. Fewer and fewer parents will put up with the way they’re being played in this game. You have to be delusional to believe the goal of the union is to do what’s best for the kids. If they were, they’d be ready to put an end to the ‘dance of the lemons,’ would support an efficient process for firing incompetent teachers, would have no objection to giving parents the choice of an alternative (charter schools) if they so choose, and would support merit based compensation to reward competent and effective teachers (like Obama is pushing). Any sentient observer can see that.

  • Cranky Teacher

    If it had been mandatory voting, the results would likely have been the same.

    When we do leadership votes at the sites, many don’t participate then, either.

    Many teachers block all of this out. Not everybody wants to participate, that is their right.

    As for teachers like Ms. J, who are complaining — how many people do you think work at the union? How many people are trying to negotiate on the one hand, and organize this far-flung district of a gazillion personalities and agendas? Answer the phones and emails? Talk to the media? Field grievances? Three? Four? Five?

    People act like the union is the friggin’ Death Star or something. Jeez.

    There is a lot more to be true little-d democrat than just voting or filling out the census.

  • Cheuy_Leuy

    @ #13 – “How many people do you think work at the union?”

    Answer: Not very many. If a strike is so well supported, why doesn’t CTA hire more manpower to get on the bandwagon like in ’96? Why did they move their offices out of the OEA center a year or less ago? The question is not about how many either, it’s aboout how many are competent in what they do – and, whether or not they are behind all of this or not…bottom line is put up or shut up….

  • Nextset

    Urban Public School Teachers are relatively unimportant in the scheme of things when it comes to strikes. When truck drivers strike we will see how many days of food New York City has (not many). When power and water workers, police & fire workers, or other really important workers who think they need a raise or less pay cuts go out, it will be more important. So let the Teachers strike all they want.

    Widespread striking is what you get when the economy is off kilter. Sit up and take notice when the striking starts to threaten infrastructure. Teachers are not infrastructure.

    Watch the news from Greece. Remember Spain already has 20%+ unemployment. When their welfare schemes (open ended unemployment “insurance”) collapse, you’ll see dangerous rioting there also. This is what socialism gives you. You can’t print money fast enough to keep paying everyone off. The productive people withdraw from industry and then flee the nation. Like Canadian Doctors and UK professional class workers. The UK didn’t drink the Euro Kool-Aid because of Margaret Thatcher. If Euroland falls the UK will look stronger in comparison. But the UK is already weakened by socialism and the beginnings of totalitarianism.

    My point is that the open borders, free trade, endless welfare, business-regulating society the two political parties wanted for CA and the USA cannot go on and is heading for the eventual collapse. You will see wage and price controls attempted by the government when the strikes get too annoying. And when that fails you will see a totalitarian state. You cannot have an open-borders welfare state and any kind of freedom for long. Our one advantage is that the other Western Nations are further along in the decline and their money and productive class want to flee to here.

    Now the choices – short term – are, print the money to pay people what they want or curtail the welfare state and take the rioting. We will print the money. Then the galloping inflation will start. Inflation transfers wealth from wage earners to capital owners. More sorting of the population into haves and have-nots.

    The urban teachers are still not going to have Ken and Barbie attending their schools. And as long as they school only low status students the urban teachers will get little in the way of improvements in working conditions, pay or equipment. They must have some other reason for being.

    Maybe it is possible that the Obama experiment will bring in a Reagan/Thatcher type resurgence in 2012. Palin for President? Someone new? Another movie/TV star perhaps?

    Brave New World.

  • lamaestra

    i am totally unclear on what the teachers want. I mean, I know they want lower class sizes and higher pay – and I agree with both – but where is the money coming from? The state is broke and OUSD can’t just manufacture money.

  • Katy Murphy

    In today’s East Bay Express, Bob Gammon writes that Oakland Unified should close 25 to 30 schools if it wants to pay its teachers better. I wonder what teachers at new, small schools think of this idea.

    You can find the story here: http://bit.ly/9TlL9Q

    Note: The average pay for Pleasanton teachers that Gammon referenced — while way higher than the average pay of an Oakland teacher, any way you cut it — includes the health benefits package as well. Some districts, such as Pleasanton and New Haven, give teachers as much as $10,000 to $15,000 to purchase health insurance through the district, and that amount is rolled into the base pay, making it look higher. Oakland Unified doesn’t do it that way; its pay scale doesn’t reflect district contributions to employee benefits.

  • J.R.

    “Pleasanton and New Haven, give teachers $10,000 to $15,000 to purchase health insurance through the district, and that amount is rolled into the base pay, making it look higher. Oakland Unified doesn’t do it that way; its pay scale doesn’t reflect district contributions to employee benefits”.

    All that wailing and gnashing of teeth, and for what? We all know that being employed is better than not being employed.

  • J.R.

    Another nail in the coffin for Oakland public employees:

    Oakland faces pension costs, higher taxes

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/04/BARQ1D7JUI.DTL

  • Katy Murphy

    Just to clarify: I don’t know exactly how much each district contributes to teacher health benefits; I know New Haven Unified gives teachers $15,000 to purchase health insurance, which is included in the base pay, but the contributions in other districts (rolled into the pay scale or not) are less. I just wanted to note the apples-to-oranges comparison.

  • harlemmoon

    Betty and her cadre of activists are clearly out of touch.
    By inching ever so closely to a strike is to ignore the grim state of financial affairs in Oakland, the Bay Area, the state and the nation.
    A strike won’t change the economic picture, but it will help to turn off parents, harden the administration and drive a major wedge between the front-line teachers who chose to walk and those who don’t.
    Betty talks about sending “a message.” Agreed: OEA is clearly telling the community that they are not only ignorant, they’re arrogant, too.

  • J.R.

    The entitlement mindset will end, because there is “no money” and therefore “no choice”.

  • Gordon Danning

    Re: health insurance as compensation, let’s not forget that salary is taxed, while health benefits are not. And not all money used to buy health insurance is deductible; only that part over 7.5% of adjusted gross income is deductible.

  • Nextset

    Tactically the union leadership needs the strike vote to negotiate whatever settlement with the schools they can get. So I believe the strike vote itself is likely in the best interests of the teachers.

    From history I believe we are probably going to see some kind of settlement rather than a protracted strike.

    “Workers of the world, unite”, etc. etc…

    All this is just a bump in the road on the path to real trouble – strikes affecting public safety, food & fuel distribution and infrastructure. Those are the only strikes everybody will really care about.

    Look for the schools reacting to labor problems with a new interest in automation, outsourcing & labor-savings. If they are smart..

    Lessons of History.

  • TheTruthHurts

    The entitlement mindset is not limited to teachers. It’s the American way for the last 40+ years. Greece is a warning shot that we will not hear. Only when the creditors come for us as a debtor nation will we wake up. We refuse to learn from the mistakes of others. OUSD has a $100 million loan and $85 million deficit and folks want more spending. Sounds like Greece to me. But, at least they’re striking over actual cuts.

    A strike should be reserved for abuses of power. I gather that OEA feels that is what is happening. If true, that says something profound about the Trib, the East Bay Express, the Superintendent, his staff, the Board and all of the Oaklanders that elected them as stewards of the Oakland public schools.

    Disagreeing is one thing. Striking and making kids suffer is quite another. If they want to protest funding cuts, I hope they find a better way. If they think priorities should shift, I think it hard to believe the Board and Superintendent are taking a deaf ear – and if so, unelect them.

    However, to make kids suffer, families suffer, generations of staff relationships suffer, Oakland as a city to suffer all because OUSD is not cutting salaries, not cutting benefits, not taking furloughs, not doing wholesale layoffs, not raising class sizes beyond comparable districts, and returning to negotiate – just proves what an alternative universe many Oakland teachers live in.

  • J.R.

    Truth,
    I agree, as a matter of fact capitalism at it extreme is “the” entitlement attitude. Many people do not realize that many of these “for profit” “private sector companies” biggest customers are in fact the government(state or federal) and by extension the taxpayers. I am not just “coming down” on teachers, everybody needs to ease back on the throttle a bit for the collective good of everyone.

  • One tired teacher

    I think many people have been swayed by the media, talking only about pay increases (while it is true that we are the lowest paid in the area), while there are so many other reasons why this contract is inexcusable!

    Increasing class sizes (particularly those of special education and elementary school) and cutting adult ed will only drain the tax payers more in the long run. Many studies have shown that putting emphasis on early education increases student motivation later on in life and cuts down future costs (such as court fees and jail costs). as well as eliminating adult ed leads to much harsher transitions for those students who require the aid into adulthood.

    This possible strike isn’t about wanting more money, it’s about getting what WE and OUR STUDENTS deserve.

  • advokid

    In this day and age it amazes me that OEA chose to use ‘paper ballots’! If they really wanted the true sentiments of all their members they could have easily developed an electronic ballot. That way those providing intervention for students afterschool and/or those with childcare issues could have voted as well. It seems they weren’t really that interested in hearing everyone’s opinion.

  • J.R.

    This possible strike isn’t about wanting more money, it’s about getting what WE and OUR STUDENTS deserve.

    I was going over API data reports for the last decade, and it looks like the OUSD students(excluding the hills) deserve more help than they are getting(they are low relative to other districts). When you make a statement about what teachers deserve you might not want to use such a broad sweeping statement. Remember this, parents and their children are leaving OUSD, parents have decided that their children’s needs are not being met. So when you say “deserve” in regards to teachers, the public is not so sure what you mean.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @one tired teacher. Do you believe there is a disagreement about what students or teachers deserve or about where the money is going to come from to pay for it?

    I’ve seen strikes in other places and it’s been much more acrimonious with claims of lying, corruption, hidden money and the like. Here, it seems that both sides are saying teachers deserve more, students deserve more. The disagreement seems to be about what monies are available. Am I wrong?

  • L.K.

    Oakey- I believe I’m a sentient being and can’t agree with you. I don’t understand the emphasis on firing teachers as teacher incompetence is such a miniscule problem. (Teachers need some protection and due process, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Charter schools are unregulated and permitted to pick and choose which students they’ll teach. Merit pay will end up corrupting the system (just reference the most recent experiment in merit pay where several OUSD principals and teachers cheated in order to earn the reward) and won’t change outcomes. Applying the capitalist business model to the public school system is just plain whacky. Teachers for the most part are not motivated to teach “better” because there is a chunk of money in it. We always try to do our best.

  • Nextset

    TruthHurts: The OUSD Teachers are workers negotiating for themselves. They are not negotiating for the benefit of “the students” – at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise or even wishes otherwise is deluded.

    The teachers of OUSD are not responsible for “the students” and should not give up a crumb from their tables for “the students”. This is not a matter of what the teachers “deserve”. This is a labor negotiation and the settlement if there is to be one is a matter of what the teachers can get for themselves.

    Workers are selling their labor, they are not running a charitable society for “the students”.

    In negotiating a contract they (the workers) are to only think of themselves, their futures and their own families, not anyone elses. That is the way labor negotiations work.

    Having said that there is no reason to believe this labor negotiation won’t result in some contract. THEY USUALLY DO. And when it’s done we will all forget about this strike and move on. That is the way US Labor and management work.

    I think it would be nice if labor didn’t do to the schools what the United Auto Workers did to the US Auto Manufacturers. But it is all strictly their business. The families with students can vote with their ballots and with their feet. So everybody is well represented.

    The students are leaving public education en masse, just as the auto consumers walked from Chrysler, GM and Ford. When the sellers have something good to sell maybe they can get customers. Or they can go the way of Packard.

    There is no margin here for feeling sorry for anybody. Everybody here does have somewhere else to go.

    Brave New World!

  • Teacher

    JR — So when you looked over the API data, you must have noticed that OUSD schools improved more than any other urban district in the state for five years. Looking at high-performing schools that always have been high-performing does not say much about the quality of the teaching there, but a lot about the privilege most of those students enjoy at home with highly educated parents, stimulating reading materials and conversation at the dinner table and nice places to do homework. I guess you think those who urban teachers who move their students forward steadily despite high poverty, low-education levels of parents and widespread violence don’t deserve a raise, while those who maintain the status quo in comfortable suburban or affluent communities should be?

    Interesting.

  • J.R.

    Teacher,
    Everyone knows the differences between affluence and poverty quite well, for instance on the issues of teacher transfer and bumping rights statistically 6th grade is the “least” preferable while 2nd,3rd and 4th are the most desirable for teachers(but still they choose the path of least resistance). Why am I going off tangent a little? I am trying to show you that the way that the education system is being run is idiotic and geared toward mediocrity(seniority,bumping are factors in that). The teachers themselves are part of the problem(they play the game of have and have not as good as anyone), and they refuse to acknowledge it. I don’t feel like writing a position paper on it. As far as API goes, at some point mathematically there is nowhere to go but up.

  • L.K.

    Nextset: I believe consumers moved away from American autos because of inferior quality, poor design, etc. These are management responsibilities and have nothing to do with the union. Read up on how those companies were managed vs. Japanese car makers. Also, teachers care very deeply about students and the direction of public education. Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. Yes, the contract is a labor document but it also is a line drawn in the sand. For example, class size has a huge impact on student learning. Teacher prep periods are good for the teacher and are enrichment for the students (art, music, PE, science). In states where schools are better funded, students get enrichment every day. A competitive salary attracts new teachers who will hopefully choose to stay in OUSD. These are contract issues that affect the students directly and that put teachers on the side of students. Of all the issues in the current contract dispute, I would say that class size is the one teachers feel strongest about. Reporting in the media doesn’t seem to convey that and instead emphasize the salary issue.

  • One tired teacher

    @the truth hurts

    the OEA has spoken about the mismanagement of funds, 13 million to outside consultants etc. etc.

    Many teachers that I work with spend their own money to supply for the needs of their students. We’ve purchased them nice clothes for job interviews/graduations/promotion ceremonies, I buy healthy snacks to give out in my classroom regularly because I see that school lunches and the food they have at home (read: buy from the liquor store down the corner) are not providing my students with much more than type two early onset diabetes. I even spend many weekends with my students taking them to kid-friendly festivals to give them a break from their neighborhoods.

    But I know that this is not sustainable. As I am obtaining my Masters in Special Education now, my finances are drained. I cannot continue to provide for myself and my students. I find myself contemplating taking out student; not just for my education, but to supplement my classroom with curriculum and supplies.

    Many teachers leave Oakland because they cannot support their families and their students. So why is Oakland paying 13 million to consults and training teachers who are leaving to higher paying districts? Lets retain our dedicated teachers, make Oakland a place where people WANT to teach. Not a place they have to leave to support their families.

  • Brad

    @One Tired Teacher: I think though that I read in a blog post on this website that when OEA looked at the consultant fees, they only proposed getting rid of a small amount. I think it was because a lot of those “consultant” fees go to paying for mandatory services for disabled students. I’m not 100% sure about this. But if I’m remembering these things correctly, then OEA’s bruhahahing about consultant fees is just posturing. Not that I think teachers shouldn’t be paid more, I do. The should be paid a lot more. On the other hand, teachers unions need to stop protecting incompetent or even harmful teachers.

  • Nextset

    LK: The UAW (with co-operation from management) raised the labor costs in US Auto Manufacture to unsustainable levels. That is, unsustainable in an open borders/free trade sense. Once superior cars could be manufactured abroad for less and imported without tariffs, the US Big 3 Auto Factories collapsed and the workers were dumped. The factories were sent to Canada and now the same thing is going to happen there.

    So the US Autoworker society migrated into working (among other places) as prison guards and police officers. And those unions have similarly pushed the labor costs for those jobs (in real dollars) into the stratosphere.

    Is this a great country or what?

    As to the teachers and their issues – well, it’s a job, people. The unions may pretend they are worried about the chillun not being able to learn if there are one too many students in a classroom – but that is only a con. The urban public schools stopped teaching anything a generation ago or more. The workers are in their jobs to support their own families and any other concern is window dressing. We all know that these “schools” are just holding pens for the proletariat. For all the (average) scores we are getting from OUSD the students could have taught themselves from Dick and Jane readers. The “good” students would have had their scores no matter who taught them.

    This insignificant OUSD contract dispute will settle as they all do historically. The real problem before us all is the death spiral of CA urban schools. If something isn’t done the Charters will eventually be the only primary/secondary schools society cares about. Charters will have all the innovation. Charters will be the responsive schools who give the families what they want. And Charters will be the places good people want to work in. And the Charters will serve to sort people from Childhood into Castes. The Charters are not designed to promote social mobility the way our Public Schools once were.

    Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The Public Schools had their chance and the blew it.

    There will be a new contract. And There will be teacher layoffs, lots of them. The PUrban ublic Schools will shrink – dramatically. They’ve lost their white students and the immigrant Asians and high functioning minority students will follow (ie Los Angeles Unified). To the extent the Public Schools become a version of Martin Luther King Hospital in Compton – no one will care who they kill. And students who might have had something made of them will just become roadkill.

    Brave New World.

  • One tired teacher

    @ Brad

    I have 4 consultants who do nothing more than tell me “good job” and “wow, you’re job is so difficult.”

    When I’ve given feedback about my mandated curriculum they repeat lines such as “oh that’s a good idea” or “I wish we had thought of that when we were making the curriculum” …

    I’m not sure how much the district is paying them, but I’m not seeing any results on this end worthy of their salary.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Thankfully, the parents of Oakland have shown to be much more supportive of teachers than the 3-4 folks who comment on this blog everyday.

    Saw this email on a teacher’s listserv and thought it has more “truthiness” and actual truth than 9/10ths of what is written above.

    “Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 22:40:18 -0700
    From: Jack Gerson
    Subject: Re: [oaklandteachers] Dragging it out?

    Well, we’ll probably know a little bit more about the district’s approach in the near future. Here are my main concerns right now:

    (1) The school board and Tony Smith lost a good deal of credibility when they imposed and walked away from the bargaining table. They came off as arbitrary, dictatorial and unreasonable. They surely realize that — so even before our strike, they said they wanted to discuss returning to the bargaining table. We need to make it clear to all our members, and to
    parents and the community, that just returning to the table isn’t enough — they’re only being reasonable if they return with a reasonable offer.

    (2) In this time when most public entities have severe budget shortfalls, many find it hard to believe that OUSD really does have enough money to handle its deficits AND meet our contract demands. But the fact is, OUSD brings in proportionately more money than most California school districts — $3,000 more per student, which translates to well over $100 million more.

    And they pay proportionately less on teacher salaries than the average school district. What are they doing with this money? We know where a lot of it goes: OUSD spends nearly double on outsourced contracts that the average school districts — that comes to an additional $40 million per year spent on contracts, compared to the average school district; and OUSD has too many administrators and spends too much of their budget on them — that’s an additional $10 to $20 million per year. That’s not all, but it’s a good
    start at unraveling the mystery of what OUSD does with all the money it takes in. We need to educate our members and the community about this.

    (3) The state trustee, Vincent Matthews, has veto power over all financial decisions. So with whom are we bargaining, the school board and school administration, or the state in the person of Vincent Matthews and Jack O’Connell. I think the answer is pretty clear: we’re really bargaining with
    the state. When the school board imposed, they said that they had no choice because if they didn’t, the state would again take over OUSD. The board,
    then, provides a facade of “democratic” cover to the state’s power over every decision involving money — includiing and especially our contract. We
    need to get the state’s heel off our neck, and that’s a political fight.
    It is truly outrageous that the state TRIPLED the school district’s debt under the state administration (2003 – 2009) while cutting programs, schools, libraries, etc. It is even more outrageous that Oakland taxpayers must pay the state $6 million per year as debt service on the debt that
    they, the state, ran up. The whole Oakland community and ALL of Oakland’s political leadership needs to tell the state to let go: cancel the debt, end
    the trusteeship, return REAL control of Oakland Public Schools to the people of Oakland.

    Jack Gerson”

  • Starshaped

    First, teachers were notified about the vote. I went door to door at my school, sent out email reminders, and another teacher made a loud speaker announcement about the meeting and invited people to come, only 4-including myself, showed up to vote. Sorry, you don’t vote-you have choosen to have no voice. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about it later.

    As pointed out previously, according to bylaws, you must show up and vote. As for electronic voting, we saw how well they worked during Dunderhead Bush’s coronation. There were complaints of the electronic systems not accurately counting the votes. Something, I’m sure would have come up for electronic for union matters. Most likely brought up by the chicken littles among us.

    Reagannomics? No thanks. He is the reason there are so many mental patients on the streets. He was no saint but honestly, he wouldn’t be elected today because he would have believed in stem cell research or something not inline with the Republican party hard line. Palin? Again, no thanks. She isn’t smart enough to know what’s happening in her own house. What do you think might happen if we let her control the US? Obama bashing is really boring. I am not an Obama phile by any stretch of the imagination but Dubbya took a huge surplus that the Clinton Administration left us, and pissed it away. He allowed the big business to run rampant, throwing us into deep, economic decline. So if it takes a little more that a year for Obama and his staff to fix the huge f up that Dubbya left, so be it.

  • J.R.

    Cranky,
    You think it’s just a few people angry about this, once you get your head out of the union-protected box of sand it’s in, you will find out different. Oakland unemployment is extremely high, and it’s tax base is weak(even in relation to other cities), you don’t notice because you are a teacher, and your checks just keep rolling in. Why don’t you ask one of the young teachers who are getting RIF’ed what it feels like to be scared about being without a job? I do agree that admin needs to be cut to the bone, but they call the shots on that particular human resource move and they aren’t going to lay themselves off.It’s the same way that the older teachers throw the younger teachers under the bus, and don’t even flinch. If everyone at OUSD was doing their job, they never would have been taken over by the state.

  • Sue

    @Brad
    You posted: “I think it was because a lot of those “consultant” fees go to paying for mandatory services for disabled students. I’m not 100% sure about this.”

    I’m pretty sure. My high school senior has been in a full-inclusion (mainstream classrooms) program for autism spectrum students since 5th grade. He’s always had a one-to-one aide since 2nd grade (special day classes). The majority of aides in the program (and prior to it as well) were OUSD employees, not consultants. When the program first started, most of the aides were “consultants” – contracted from a company called BCRC based in Marin. But the district’s Department of Programs for Exceptional Children (i.e. Spec. Ed and GATE) moved quickly and steadily replacing BCRC aides with *qualified* district employees. This year, there is one and only one aide in my son’s program who isn’t a district employee, and next year there will be none, because that one aide from BCRC is required to fulfill the terms of my son’s IEP.

    I have a very, very negative opinion of the Director of Special Programs (I don’t think I could be in the same room with her without becoming physically ill, or attempting to harm her – so I don’t go anywhere near her offices anymore), but I have to say that she’s worked hard to cut the disabled students’ “consultants” from her department’s expenses, and replace them with less costly district employees.

  • Ms. J.

    Starshaped,
    Yes, to some extent I ‘chose’ not to vote; but the choice was between creating a hardship for my family and voting, or abstaining for the vote (and thus not being counted) but sparing my kids. Of course I acknowledge that I had a choice, at some level, but I think it’s similar to the ‘choice’ of being a union member (and paying dues) or not being a union member (and paying dues).

    I want to be a member of the union, and I appreciate what the labor movement has done for workers in this country, but I do not think the OEA really wants to hear from all of its members. People have repeated that it’s in the bylaws that a vote must be held only at a meeting. Well, who wrote the bylaws?

    I also acknowledge that the people who are simultaneously teaching and representing, at whatever level, in and with the union, are doing more than I am. I am grateful to them. But I still think I should be able to have a say in an issue which concerns me and my profession without having to go so far out of my way.

  • L.K.

    Nextset – It pains me that there are people out there who are so set in their assumptions that they will believe that teachers don’t care, that it’s “just a job.” Cashiering is just a job. Waiting tables, bar tending, etc. is just a job. All honorable work, to be sure, but jobs you can walk away from at any time. Teachers are not in it for the money, believe me. Yes, we want a decent wage, but most of us teach because it is a calling. There are too many people on this blog who are not interested in dialog and merely spout their prejudices. Walk in a teacher’s shoes for a week or even a day. If you have a degree all it takes to become a certified sub is to pass a basic competency test. Do that, then come back and tell me that teachers don’t care and it’s just a job.

  • J.R.

    L.K.
    So what you are stating as fact are that:

    1. All teachers care(every single one) about their students because it’s a calling(and by extension there are no bad teachers).

    2. None are in it for the money.

    3. No one except a teacher can absolutely positively have any idea what a teacher goes through(not a parent, or PTA member, or even a spouse of a teacher).

    4. We don’t(can’t) know about lesson planning, differentiation, modeling, classroom management or IEP’s.

    are you sure about the facts on which you stand?

  • J.R.

    Just so you know, I am very well aware of the fact that teaching is difficult(for the good ones anyway)and even moreso at this time. One thing teaching is not, it is not rocket science. The good ones are underpaid, just as the bad ones are overpaid. That is the price we pay for collective bargaining, so don’t protect the ones who shouldn’t be teaching. Pointing the finger at bad doctors and lawyers is no excuse and is not unlike what kids do on the playground, which I am sure you are aware of. You say kids aren’t widgets and shouldn’t be treated the same(which is correct) well, what about teacher, there are excellent, average and awful. Should they all be paid the same? Or worse yet, should the primary criteria for raises be service time, and not ability?

  • Cheuy_Leuy
  • TheTruthHurts

    @cranky, I thought I recognized the name jack gerson, so I Googled. Hmmm is all I’ll say. Since I like the ed-data site, I checked on what Mr. Gerson is saying. Oakland indeed gets more money. Did Mr. Gerson mention that is also true of several districts in Alameda county? Did he mention that some of them spend less of their money on compensation than OUSD? Did he mention where those funds come from and whether there are strings attached to how they could be spent? Did he look at how they have higher class sizes than OUSD?

    I doubt it.

    Ask Mr. Gerson to do that “homework” and he’ll discover there is a bigger picture. Or, perhaps he knew that and chose not to share.