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.