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Teachers are pawns in negotiating games

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POSTED April 25, 2009 2:21 a.m.
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Negotiations for the teaching staff of Manteca Unified School District have not gone well. It would seem that it is more of a grudge match than negotiations.
Way back in the beginning of all of this the Manteca Educators Association’s voting body was not totally opposed to a temporary 5% pay reduction along with acceptance of budget modifications submitted by the various budget committees. However, the response of the board was to bypass the suggested level 3, budget modifications and argue for an 8% pay cut.

Since then, the district moral has waned, and abrasive behaviors on both sides of the bargaining teams have been surfacing.

The most recent considerations by the board of class size reduction, and staffing has brought forward some disconcerting issues. First of all class size reduction does not mean the same thing at the elementary level as it does to the high school level. In the elementary level it might mean increasing the size of classes by a couple of students. In the high school it means any class with less than 30 students should not be offered at all which threatens the existence of industrial technology classes, advanced placement courses and honors courses. High school and elementary needs should be negotiated separately.

One of the other proposals that has come up is staffing each high school with only 1 or 2 counselors. I feel glad that they will have a job, but wonder how much they can truly accomplish in a 1,300 to 1,400 student body population. Who is going to have the time to call parents of seniors in danger of failing required classes, or to meet with the students for scholarships and college information? Who will have time to deal with the emotional issues that come up or schedule and conduct the student/ teacher conferences needed to help students and teachers have a successful year? How will there be time to give the students the time they need to sit and discuss the courses, their goals and their post high school options? Who will monitor the ROP students, visit the working experience sites to ensure the students are not work extended hours for their employers, type the work permits, and do class presentations? All of these duties and more for a high school population of 1300-1400 students for 2 counselors is ludicrous at best. I can’t imagine that the school board would even consider such a proposal. Again staffing issues for the high schools and elementary schools are different because their needs are different and should be considered separately.

The parents in our community need to be aware of what is happening. It is not the certificated staff that are the bad guys here. I have watched my friends become pawns in the negotiation chess games. The quality of our schools is at stake.

The next board meeting is Tuesday, April 28. Cross your fingers that common sense rules.
Del Pedroni
Manteca
April 23, 2009
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