Strategy and Analysis to Defend and Transform Public Education
Article 12 of the OEA-OUSD contract covers the rules for filling vacancies and for assigning teachers.
Under the current Article 12 language in the contract, Members who are involuntarily transferred by administration, returning from leave, or consolidated due to position reductions or school closures, and who are qualified for a vacancy by credential and experience, are to be placed in a vacancy for which they have applied in order of seniority (contrary to media-hype, they CANNOT however bump less senior teachers out of positions they currently hold). These vacancies are not open to voluntary transfers or external applicants until this process is completed. Members at sites being closed or restructured stay with their students, and are reassigned by seniority only to the extent required by enrollment reductions.
OUSD is proposing the following major changes to Article 12:
“We must empower our schools by giving them the flexibility to design programs that best meet the needs of the students they serve. This includes the way in which we select teachers and staff. I want to ensure that every adult working on behalf of Oakland students shares the vision of the school and its community. Ideally, we will not place staff at schools where their values don’t align with those of the school or the students’ needs. This approach allows for a collaborative school culture and governance model that encourages parent engagement and staff unity while driving improved student achievement.”
“Teachers have the largest impact on student learning of any in-school factor. Giving teachers, parents, and principals more power to decide who teaches in their schools is an important first step in ensuring that every student in Oakland has an effective teacher.”
No. While Wilson talks “collaborative school governance”, he is actively pushing a top-down undemocratic process for school turnarounds of the 5 flatland schools (and GO Public Schools has yet to speak out against it). Most of the schools had no idea their schools were being targeted until one day before the district announced its plans publicly in December. Given the number of interested charter school already coming to the table, we might wonder if the district kept the charters in the dark as long as they did the students, parents and teachers who would be so deeply impacted by this initiative. If community control of schools was really Wilson’s number one priority, he would have approached struggling schools with an asset-based, well-resourced and community leadership-oriented model for positive student/parent/teacher-led transformation of our schools. Rather, Wilson is using Article 12 to pit parents and teachers against each other at a time when we should be united against his efforts to privatize our district.
As teachers we value our union-protected worker rights and believe that school communities (including students, parents, teachers and staff) need the power and resources to implement the visions we have for our schools. We know how important it is to staunchly defend our rights both because we believe all workers should have these rights and because we know that teacher stability is perhaps the biggest determinant of the strength of our schools and understand that attacks on our transfer rights work to undermine stability. At the same time, we know that the current transfer process is flawed and doesn’t work for teachers or for school communities. As a union we need to develop our own vision for a teacher transfer process that protects our worker rights AND facilitates real community decision-making in staffing and other school site issues. We should refuse to bargain on Article 12 during this round of contract negotiations (which is totally within our legal rights) and then take the time to develop our own proposal to bring the table during the next round of bargaining.
GO released the above infographic the week before the 1/13/15 OEA forum on this issue. GO is a very well resourced organization (they receive substantial funding from Dreyer’s Ice Cream’s family foundation which also funds the California Charter School Association and many Oakland charter schools, see http://www.rogersfoundation.org/program-areas/oakland-education-grantees), and they use that funding to make very nice graphics like this one. While this is a useful visualization of the district’s proposed changes, there are some key details missing:
Wilson needs Article 12 to move forward their plans to “turnaround” Frick, Brookfield, McCylmonds, Fremont & Castlemont. In fact we can assume that Wilson’s plans for school turnarounds is why the district pushed to reopen Article 12 for negotiation this fall, after not raising it as a negotiation issue when the district sunshined its initial offer last winter.
In Denver, school turnarounds primarily took two forms: schools were either converted to charter schools OR schools were kept public but all staff were laid-off or reassigned and those hired to replace them were not protected by the same contract rights as regular teachers (ala Accelerated TSA).
If OUSD turns these schools over to charter school management, we can expect layoffs as the number of teaching positions in the district are decreased. The proposed changes to Article 12 will allow the district to control who is reassigned to these vacancies. Without these changes to Article 12, reassignment will be based on seniority rights and the district will be sure to face criticism as schools across the district are destabilized.
If OUSD keeps these schools public but wants to push out the current teachers, the proposed changes to Article 12 will give the district the power to control what schools these teachers are displaced to, or if they are even offered teaching positions in the district at all. Without these changes to Article 12, displaced teachers will have power over where they get reassigned, including the right to follow or stay with their students
If we refuse to bargain on Article 12 (which is absolutely within our bargaining rights), OUSD will be really hard pressed to move forward their undemocratic turnarounds.