Sunday, May 20, 2012

When is a contract not a contract? Apparently, when one party is teachers and the other is the Department of Education

h/t Transparent Christina

When Cape Henlopen teachers agreed to support Race To The Top via a union vote, they did something sensible:  they included a sunset provision on one of the more questionable provisions.

Acquiring RTTT funding for their district--which included new math specialists at elementary schools--meant that teachers had to swallow eight mandatory team meetings a month, rather than the two they had been holding.

As the Cape Gazette reports:

Teachers are required to meet 90 minutes a week either during school or after to tackle education issues as a team.
[District Superinendent Kevin] Carson said when the union signed the original Race to the Top agreement, it included a sunset date of June 30, 2012, for the required team meetings. The union refused to remove the sunset provision in a recent vote by its members, which now puts the district at risk to lose the $1.5 million balance of Race to the Top funds, he said.
In addition to eliminating teaching positions, future teacher development programs funded with Race to the Top money will be cancelled, Carson said.
Cape Henlopen Education Association President Sarah Ross said the team meeting requirement has been an issue from the beginning. Teachers used to meet twice a month to discuss learning strategies and other ways to improve teaching, but now they must meet twice a week to satisfy the 90-minute a week mandate, she said.
Teachers did not want the meetings to come out of their regular planning time, Ross said.
“We felt that it was a violation of the contract but the district didn’t,” she said.
Now note that Delaware DOE had no problem accepting the original agreement with the Cape teachers that included a sunset agreement--probably because DOE figured the teachers would keep on rolling over.  Since they didn't, DOE and the Cape administration are blaming the teachers for the potential loss of $1.5 million in RTTT funds.

This is another chapter in the hidden costs of accepting massive Federal intrusion into local school districts.  As with Christina School District last year, it really doesn't matter whether or not the State lives up to its part of the agreement, it only matters if the teachers and school board members continue to do exactly what they are told.

So now Cape Henlopen teachers are being blamed for the loss of 4.5 teacher positions and $1.5 million in funding simply because they exercised an option that had existed in the agreement with the State from the start.

We need an end to Federal intrusion in Delaware public education.  Providing (even with RTTT temporary funding) only about 9% of our education budget is not a good enough reason to allow bureaucracies in Dover and Washington DC to run roughshod over our school districts.

What can we do?

In November, vote for Gary Johnson for President.  Yeah, he's the Libertarian.  He's also the two-term former Governor of New Mexico who is the only candidate promising to end Federal intrusion into public education.  Maybe he doesn't win.  But thousand, maybe millions of votes send a message to the Federal government:  we're taking back control of our schools.

This year, vote for principle (and vote to support those Cape Henlopen teachers).

This year, vote for Gary Johnson.


Anonymous said...

Is the solution to every problem going to be to vote for Gary Johnson for president?

Ed Diagnostician said...

Anon, I don't know, but Obama and Romney are indistinguishable and intrusionists. Yes, I made that word up.

I can see voting for Johnson because Education is my issue, and these two are just not the solution.

Steven H. Newton said...

Hey, Anon--

This is a political year.

I'm a Libertarian. Do you go to, say, Delawareliberal, and complain about them advocating daily for Barack Obama?

The article as written, is solid and makes a point about intrusion. Then the ending, which you can take or leave, proposes that you think differently.

Again--take it or leave it.

Pencadermom said...

Steve, I know this is probably a dumb question and one I should know the answer to, but as you might have noticed from some of my other posts on Kilroy, I am still trying to learn and sort through all I am learing.. Rodel, Voices4del, Race To the Top, etc.. my question is, is Race to the Top part of Rodel?
@Anon, your question makes even less sense than mine :)

Steven H. Newton said...


Not a dumb question at all.

Race to the Top is a Federal initiative of the Obama administration effectively replacing the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind.

Vision 2015 is the Delaware home-grown education reform movement that's been around about ten years (in more optimistic times it was Vision 2012; I'm waiting for it to become Vision 2020). It is supported by Rodel, the Chamber of Commerce, and most of the business/corporate community of Delaware.

Which pretty much also means that it is supported by the highest levels of state government.

Voices 4 Delaware Education is a political PAC (501c4) that is the parallel to the Educational (501c3) PAC of the same name that is an arm of Rodel.

Officially, legally, but not exactly ethically, V4DE political PAC is a completely separate entity from Rodel--but since 501c4 PACs don't have to reveal their donors or much of anything about their organization, who knows?

John or pandora--did I get this essentially right?

tom said...

Race to the Top, variously abbreviated as R2T, RTTT or RTT, is Barack Obama's and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's $4.5 Billion Game Show in which states compete to see who is willing to accept the most federal meddling in their government schools in return for grants that end up costing more than they are worth.

It was Obama's attempt to outdo Bush's wildly unpopular No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

Pencadermom said...

Thank you. That is an easy to understand summary. Are all Delaware public schools part of Vision 2015? I hadn't heard it used (except for on Delaware Online and on the blogs) until I went to orientation at Hodgson a couple weeks ago. If NCS and Pencader Charter are part of it, I didn't know about it.

Steven H. Newton said...


The Vision Network contains about 25 schools scattered around DE, including one or two charters.

You can find the whole list here

You can also find a really penetrating article on Vision Network failures at Children and Educators First here