On Wednesday evening, you might have seen teachers standing at various Oakland intersections holding “thank-you” signs (as well as the more commonplace posters calling for a fair contract). The act of public thanksgiving was meant for voters who supported Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.
The measure’s success at the polls spared California school districts billions of dollars in midyear cuts. It’s also opened the door to renewed contract negotiations between two groups that have long been at odds: the Oakland school district and its teachers.
That’s right, a new teacher contract could be in OUSD’s sights for the first time in — could it be? — nearly seven years. (The last mutually agreed contract, made in 2006, expired in 2008. The district unilaterally imposed a contract in 2010.)
Today, the Oakland Education Association’s bargaining team sits down with representatives from the Oakland school district to talk about each side’s contract proposals and ask clarifying questions. (You can find links to both proposals here.)
“With the passing of Prop. 30, and with a $33 million reserve, the district is in a stable enough position to compensate their personnel, teachers and all of their workers,” said OEA President Trish Gorham.
The OEA is asking for a 4 percent boost to the pay scale, much lower than the 20 percent the union called for in January 2008. OUSD’s proposal calls for revamped teacher evaluations (based on “multiple student learning outcomes”), the establishment of a career ladder for outstanding teachers, and to give individual schools more of a say in the composition of their staff.
It seems both sides left plenty of room for negotiation, perhaps after watching the last attempt at reaching agreement reach impasse, and they’ve agreed to study the issues together. As Gorham said, “Both proposals are short on specifics.”
Twice-monthly sessions have been scheduled for the next three months, with Kei Swensen, a Sankofa Academy teacher, chairing the negotiations for the teachers.
Is it reasonable for teachers to hope that those nine scheduled sessions will be enough? “I think we will be very close to an agreement in three months,” Gorham said.