My letter to the BTU President

Good evening Ms. English,

The main reason I write to you today is to encourage you to postpone this Thursday’s contract vote. With such short notice (only 6 days from contract announcement until vote), there has not been enough time for teachers to read, meet, discuss the contract.

In your email from earlier this evening you point out that we are working without a contract – if so, why were we not given the tentative agreement several months before the old one expired, so there was adequate time to digest it, make an informed vote, and even go back to the negotiations table if a no vote occurred, without having to threaten that we would lose our jobs or benefits that we have fought for?

One additional concern I have is with what you cite as a positive, that the new contract is very similar to the current contract. Many teachers raised concerns then that so much of the contract was still to be written, in that committees would be formed to establish AU criteria, the evaluation system was pending action by the state legislature, etc. We gave you our trust when we voted to approve that contract in November 2010, trusting that those committees would act in good faith to the promises that had been made about AUs even though the language was not nailed down in the contract, trusting that the evaluation system and its implementation would be as fair as possible within the constraints set by the state. This has not been true. Two categories of AUs are still “in development”, one was released 2/3 of the way into the contract and has been made almost impossible to apply for. While the fact that 50% of our evaluation is based on student growth is state-mandated, your statement “The evaluation tool is a result of state and federal mandates” conflates that with the details of how Baltimore City has chosen to connect that evaluation to pay, and how exactly student growth is measured (e.g. school performance index). These details of how Baltimore City can apply the student growth measure are very much in the purview of this contract, and I don’t feel comfortable voting for another contract where so much about AUs and evaluations are not adequately addressed in the contract in writing.

Sincerely,
Nicholas Yates
Math and Engineering Teacher
Patterson High School #405

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5 Comments

Filed under teaching

5 responses to “My letter to the BTU President

  1. nyates314

    Great analysis of Ms. English’s letter to the teachers’ union membership (the immediate antecedent to my letter posted above) over at Epiphany in Baltimore’s blog: http://epiphanyinbmore.blogspot.com/2014/02/scare-tactics-from-btu-are-they-real.html

  2. The urgency to vote gives me a bad taste in my mouth. My dues pay for them to negotiate for me (us). If the vote is no, it’s their job to re-negotiate on our behalf and (supposedly) in our best interest. (Side-eye.)

  3. Reblogged this on Sweet Pink Words and commented:
    Well-said.

  4. Pingback: Resources for Tomorrow’s Contract Vote | Maryland Math Madness

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