"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Red Menace" Daniels Signs Bill Maim Collective Bargaining of Indiana Teachers

The whitest and shortest Tea Party governor of the U. S. has signed legislation to silence any voice that teachers have at the bargaining table regarding teaching conditions, curriculum, class size, evaluation procedures, field trips, or any other education issue outside of salary or working hours.  This new big government takeover of local issues is just the latest example of how Koch-inspired ideology has made it necessary for local control Republicans to be replaced by corporate oligarchs who know best what is needed at the local level.

With these new restrictions to union participation in place, we will see very soon now the same corporate education agenda that the U. S. Chamber of Horrors is sending out to every state that will take their dirty money or that will be intimidated by their lies. Story appears below this letter by an Indiana teacher:

You may not have heard yet, but we educators in Indiana are about to lose nearly all of our current collective bargaining rights. A bill is now headed to Governor Daniels signed yesterday] that will cut those rights back to almost nothing.
 
The current law says they MUST bargain on salary, wages & hours only, with a list of subjects such as working conditions, curriculum, etc. that CAN be bargained on.
 
But this was too much for the ruling class to handle and bargaining will now only be on salary & benefits. I now feel like we are on the road to serfdom & I am a simple wage slave under the boot of the oligarchy.
 
And the ISTA never even called for a statewide strike. (I am seriously considering leaving the union next year) And most teachers in the state were ambivalent at best and did nothing serious to fight it.
 
Our evaluation system is also about to be dramatically changed, and not in a good way.
 
This is a catastrophe........
 
Brent Holt
Jeffersonville, IN

From the Tribune-Star:

TERRE HAUTE — Teachers’ unions in Indiana will no longer be able to negotiate such items as school calendars, class size or teacher evaluation procedures under a new law that restricts collective bargaining rights.
“It limits local control on what we can and cannot bargain,” said Shane Grimes, area Uniserv director with the Indiana State Teachers Association.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Senate Bill 575 into law. It prohibits contracts between school districts and teachers unions from including anything other than wages and wage-related benefits. The GOP-led Indiana Senate voted 30-19 Tuesday for the bill, which had previously been approved by the Republican-ruled House.
The teacher collective bargaining law has been in place since 1973, Grimes said.
He doesn’t understand how dismantling that law, and taking away most items that are negotiated, helps local people have more control, he said.
Vigo County Schools Superintendent Dan Tanoos said he does not agree with the changes to the collective bargaining law. “We bargain very cooperatively with our teachers association,” he said. The new law “is a step backwards.”
The Legislature is using a “broad brush” approach that affects all school districts because of problems with collective bargaining agreements in some school systems. “It takes the administration to accept those agreements,” he said, and those superintendents should share in the blame where problems exist.
In some districts, SB 575 may mean “wholesale changes” in teacher working conditions, Tanoos said.
In Vigo County, “We have a great relationship and we want to maintain that working relationship,” Tanoos said. Even though the law has changed, “I still think we would want to have meaningful discussion” on issues affecting teachers.
The Vigo County Teachers Association and administration have begun contract talks early this year, and Tanoos hopes an agreement can be reached in about a month. The new legislation, which takes effect July 1, is a factor in the early negotiations this year, he said.
Dan Vukovits, co-president of the Rockville teachers association, said he wasn’t familiar with all the details, but he believes SB 575 does represent a loss of local control as far as school communities, boards, administrators and teachers “working through issues that happen locally.”
SB 575 “will turn things upside down” in public education, Vukovits said.
 Two provisions of the law take effect immediately:
  • Current teacher contracts may not extend past the budget biennium.
  • Districts may not collectively bargain teacher evaluation procedures or criteria. According to the state Department of Education, teachers will still be involved in evaluation procedures and criteria through “required discussions with school leadership.”
One teacher concerned about the changes affecting public education is Dan Wunderlich, a chemistry teacher at Terre Haute South Vigo High School who has taught for 39 years.
“The entire atmosphere that’s been established in the state and nationally is concerning to a lot of people,” Wunderlich said. Many educators worry that talented people who are considering going into the profession will decide otherwise “because of all the negatives being thrown out.”
He believes SB 575 will take away the team approach that now exists between teachers and school officials. “I’ve always felt that we had moved away from the ‘us and them’ situation and we were really approaching our profession as a team,” Wunderlich said. He believes SB 575 “is going to move us away from the team approach and back to a situation that could evolve to ‘us and them’.”

What’s happening at the Statehouse “is disheartening,” and the changes have occurred very quickly, Wunderlich said. “I can feel the difference when I talk to my colleagues. There is a real feeling of uneasiness.”

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