Monday Morning Update

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] [mailto:LUnseth@WashingtonEA.org]
Sent: Monday, July 20, 2015 11:27 AM
Subject: Monday Morning Update

Who’s right?

As you read in Friday’s update we’ve gone through another day of bargaining, with PAE pointing out what we need for students to succeed, and Superintendent Saundra Hill’s administrative team saying no.

PAE is continuing to advocate for adequate curriculum, supplies and materials; workable class size and caseloads; specific concerns for our counselors, specialists, bilingual and special-ed teachers; professional pay and recognition of work we often do after-hours; reduced testing; fair, professional and consistent administrative practices; and affordable, high-quality health insurance. It’s clear that with more than $30 million uselessly idling away in reserves and more than $14 million in new, additional state funding, money is not the issue in Pasco. Yet Hill’s administrative team continues its attempts to obfuscate, avoid and even go backward on helping our members and students.

So … Who’s right?

That question will loom increasingly large for PAE members and our community unless Hill’s negotiating team decides to show satisfactory progress in the coming days to successfully resolve these issues. But are we right? Or is the district?

* We know Pasco teachers need and deserve professional pay. Sixty-five percent of our teachers have advanced degrees. We face increasing challenges, higher expectations and additional hurdles every year we stay in our chosen profession. We work longer and longer hours, but without additional pay. Increasingly, teachers are leaving the district — or leaving the profession entirely — and inadequate compensation is a huge factor. We are passionate about our profession, but teaching remains just that: a profession, not an appointment from God. We need to be paid as professionals, and should be expected to work reasonable hours. When extra duties are demanded of us, we should receive appropriate additional compensation. On professional pay, we are right.

* We know our students need adequate materials and supplies to help them succeed. Curriculum isn’t just a basic cost of running our schools. It isn’t just a basic expectation of teachers, parents and students. It’s the law. Too often, we have to devote our time to make up for mistakes by administrators who are misinformed, or out of touch with best education practices or the real needs of our students. Many of us have to design our own curriculum materials from scratch, or individually translate the limited district materials available into the languages our students need. Through administrative bumbling or a misguided notion that money in the bank is more important than money used to support students, Pasco’s teachers have gone without far too long. On curriculum and materials, we are right.

* We know which tests help us understand where our students are strong, and where they are struggling. Heaping on more tests, more reports and more paperwork, doesn’t help Pasco’s students learn. Testing is not teaching — and teaching must come first. We have too much testing in Pasco. On less testing and more time to teach, we are right.

* We know that once students arrive at school, the most important variable is the teacher in the classroom. It’s not an assistant superintendent of academic progress. Or a deputy superintendent of testing and assessment. Or an under-secretary for learning and knowledge. Or even more administrators who go to seminars and then expect teachers to adopt the flavor of the month. On making more teachers a higher priority than more administrators, we are right.

* We understand that policies and procedures and the administrators who deliver them have a sound role in our students’ education. But they stop being helpful if those policies are unequally applied, or if flexing administrative muscle becomes more important than helping students excel. We are calling for an end to administrative bullying, retaliation and inconsistent administrative practices. On

administrative consistency, we know we are right.

Our being right hasn’t yet meant that Saundra Hill is willing to do what’s right. So far the district has done little more than smile and nod before again saying ‘no’ to the solutions for these problems and issues.

That’s why it’s critical that all PAE members attend our general membership meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at 1328 N. Road 28, in Pasco, at the hall generously offered by our union brothers and sisters in Steamfitters Local 598. We’ll let you know whether a resolution is in sight, and discuss what next steps PAE members want to take, up to and including a possible strike vote, if our contract issues remain unresolved. Mark your calendars for this very important meeting!

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