From Baltimore City teacher Corey Gaber, published here with permission in the interest of amplifying the message and opening a space for debate beyond Facebook:
BALTIMORE CITY EDUCATORS: I would like to make an argument for why you should vote NO on the upcoming teachers contract. If you find it persuasive, please forward this (or just parts of it, or change the language for your audience) to everyone the new contract impacts.
1. Article 2.4 says:
“Individuals and organizations other than the Union shall not be permitted to use the school system’s interdepartmental mail and email facilities, or the right of distribution of materials to teachers’ mailboxes.” (http://www.baltimoreteachers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/TENTATIVE-AGREEMENT.corrected.1.14.14.pdf)
So if Baltimore Teacher Network (BTN) or Educators for Democratic Schools decide to put on another teacher forum like we did last Thursday, for discussion topics like, “investigating the new teacher contract” (note that we have to investigate it on our own because we’re not actually co-creators of the product and we’re not informed of its contents until right before it’s shoved down our throats), then WE CAN’T EVEN PUT FLYERS IN FELLOW TEACHERS MAILBOXES to educate them about the opportunity thanks to this new clause.
This is a clear violation of first amendment rights and is written so broadly that it could be used to rule out almost anyone BUT the union from sending an email to a teacher.
Note that this is also a fearful and vindictive move by union leadership who threatened to sue BTN last year for sending emails to teachers on BCPSS accounts. Marietta English believes that if teachers get organized to even discuss issues that effect them, they may one day be a threat to overthrow current leadership. Voting yes is voting for a self-imposed gag order.
2. This is a fundamentally undemocratic process. If you value what your members think about something, then you give them an opportunity to consider the new contract, provide feedback, make changes if necessary, and THEN vote on it.
This timeline excludes such possibilities, meaning our concerns are not only not being represented by our representatives. there’s not even a genuine attempt to listen to them at a crucial point.
Approving this contract sends a message that you’re OK with the content AND the process, thus ensuring that future negotiations will follow a similar course.
3. Voting down this contract would open up a space to bring new (and old) ideas into the public forum for debate. For example:
-Including a Total Student Load into the contract that limits class sizes. We are in a privileged position at SBCS, but many others around the city aren’t so lucky. My girlfriend has classes of 37 and 34 third graders. Special educators across the city have case loads that are literally impossible to provide all the services necessary to. Total Student Load limits can also trickle down to social workers, school psychologists, and others
-We still have NO right to grieve the content of an observation or evaluation. Again this is not a big deal in places with fair and caring leadership, but for those of us with experience in other city schools, unstable/idiotic/vindictive principals can ruin good teachers careers with little to no due process. This is something the Chicago teachers won, among other things, as a result of their united and powerful strike.
-For those of you who do not believe in teachers being evaluated in part based on standardized test scores, this contract further cements the policy.
Thanks to those of you who took the time to read this. Any one of these 3 points I believe are enough to vote no on their own. Together, I think they make the choice obvious. If you’ve found what I say persuasive, please talk to your friends and colleagues at other schools and feel free to forward this email to them if you’d like.
Connect with Corey on Twitter @DaKittenz.