Monday, May 08, 2006

Oakland Contract Vote: A New Degree Of Separation?

This Wednesday, Oakland's teachers will be voting on whether or not to ratify a tentative contract with their now state-run district. Administrators are taking an anything but a hands off approach in the balloting:
The state-run Oakland school district is encouraging teachers to turn out for Wednesday's contract vote in the hope that greater attendance at the polls will help pass the tentative agreement and prevent a strike.
State Administrator Randolph Ward is asking principals to allow Oakland teachers, counselors, nurses and psychologists represented by the 3,200-member union to leave school between

2 and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday so they can have ample time to reach the Scottish Rite Center on Lakeside Drive, where voting begins at 3:30 p.m.

Class time will not be interrupted by the vote, as nearly all Oakland students are released early on Wednesdays.

The district also is sending information about the tentative agreement to schools to ensure teachers know the facts when they enter the polls, district officials said.

"Bringing closure to this process is important for teachers, for the community, for children and for the educational mission of the district," Ward said. "I recognize the dedication and professionalism of the workers for this district, and we aredoing everything we can to honor them with the resources we have."

The tentative agreement was reached April 19, averting a strike the following day, but passage is not guaranteed. The pact failed to win an endorsement from the union's executive board and among union representatives from Oakland schools.

David de Leeuw, chairman of the union's bargaining team, is voting against the pact. Union President Ben Visnick supports the deal. Contract supporters say it is a fair deal, and those opposed say it is not enough to keep teachers in Oakland.
I'm not so sure that the District's interference in what should be a purely internal union matter is such a good idea.

Still... Oakland's public schools have been in
such a mess for such a long time that getting this deal ratified would be a big step forward toward addressing the crisis.

After years of turmoil, Oakland's students have already paid a high-enough price for what is essentially a failure of the adults to work together and achieve a fair and equitable agreement on salaries, benefits, and working conditions.
See our latest education-related entries right here.