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Plymouth Teachers Rally in Indy

March 8, 2011
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03/09/11 Seventeen Plymouth Schools teachers joined with hundreds of other teachers from around the state on March 5 at a rally held in Indianapolis aimed at showing support for public schools.

Co-President of the PEA (Plymouth Education Association), Laura Kruyer was among those attending the rally.

Kruyer said, “As Co-President of the Plymouth Education Association, I am proud of how our teachers have come together to deal with ever-increasing demands and budget crunches.  Teachers and administrators are working together to improve test scores and accountability.”  

In speaking about the negotiations at the local level, Kruyer said, “We have negotiated in collaboration time to further the development of an effective curriculum.  Negotiations in the last couple of years have even witnessed teachers rescinding a 1% pay raise in an effort to help our corporation deal with state funding cuts.”

Kruyer shared some of her reasons for her personal show of support saying, “One of the main reasons I decided to become a teacher was because of the Plymouth teachers who influenced me so greatly as a student.  At the time, it never crossed my mind that one day I would have to defend public education and those people who have dedicated themselves to this profession. 

She added, “ It scares me to think that many of the programs that PCSC offers may have to be cut or eliminated altogether if the funding for public education continues to erode.  I can’t image a school system where teachers have no true voice in how the schools are operated.  I don’t want to image a school system without art classes, foreign language classes, industrial tech classes, food and consumer sciences, speech, and physical education.”

“Do we really want a system where we only teach the core classes and nothing else?  A great deal of the success at PCSC can be contributed to the fact that our schools offer a wide variety of programs and encourage our students to be well-rounded individuals.” Kruyer said.

Kruyer outlined some of the bills being considered at the state level.

She said, ““While there are many bills in front of the General Assembly that deal with public education, here are a few bills public teachers are watching especially close.”

HB 1003:  Vouchers/Private School Tax Credits

This bill phases in an increase in the existing tax credit for contributions made to “scholarship-granting” organizations.  Current law sets the credit at 50% of the contribution.  HB 1003 increases the tax credit from 50% of the contribution for 2011 to 60% in 2012, to 70% in 2013, and to 80% in 2014.  Vouchers will transfer public dollars to private schools, yet taxpayers will have no say in how the voucher schools are run.  Voucher schools are not required to meet basic accountability standards such as open meetings, the release of test scores, and drop-out rates.  It is estimated that if implemented the program would shift $110 million from public schools to private schools.

HB 1002: Charter Schools

The bill removes all existing caps on establishing charter schools.  It expands the number of entities that can sponsor a charter school.  While at this point it does not look like Marshall County will fit the criteria to establish a charter school, once again funding for public education will be affected greatly as money will be funneled away from traditional public schools to charter schools.  Charter schools do not measure up even with the advantages of not being held to the same standards, admissions, and accountability as traditional public schools. According to the Indiana DOE’s own numbers, charters schools account for 21 out of the bottom 25 schools in regards to ISTEP scores!  Also keep in mind, up to 50% of the instructors at charter schools do not need to have education licenses at all.   

SB1:  Teacher Evaluation

The bill establishes an annual staff evaluation procedure categorizing teachers as highly effective, effective, improvement necessary, or ineffective.  Those in the lower two categories cannot receive an increment or raise.  Teachers agree that an annual evaluation system is beneficial.  However, the system needs to be fair and consistently applied.  Teacher evaluations need to be rigorious and balanced too.  The system should focus on improving teacher practice to improve student learning.  The proposal being made does not put such safeguards in place.  Instead it allows for mentor teachers to evaluate fellow staff members.  Money saved by not providing raises to ineffective or improvement necessary rated teachers would provide funds for raises to mentors and teachers rated effective and highly effective.  The poses a conflict of interest for the mentor teachers.  Most importantly, these bonuses fail to recognize the role collaboration plays within the educational system by singling out individuals for merit pay.

SB 575:  Collective Bargaining

This bill limits collective bargaining to salary, wages, and wage-related benefits.  One big misconception about collective bargaining is that it is all about the money.  Collective bargaining embraces local decision making because one size does not fit all.  This bill takes the educator’s voice out of those items that have a great impact on the quality of teaching in the classroom.  The provision that the school board may discuss certain non-salary items, but prohibits the substance of those discussions from being included in a collective bargaining agreement does not make sense.  Teachers are uniquely qualified to have their voices heard when it comes to working conditions most beneficial to improving student learning.

Kruyer is hoping the public will join in support of public school education. She said, “It is time for the public to stand in solidarity with the teachers to make sure our voices are heard.  Local teachers, administrators, and school employees have already raised concerns and suggested possible solutions through local meetings, rallies, letters-to-the editor, and by writing our legislators.  Sadly, it may not be enough. “

She said, “We need parents, students, and community members to let our legislators know we will fight for our schools.  After all, public education is the very foundation of our society.”

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5 Responses to “ Plymouth Teachers Rally in Indy ”

  1. indianaaggie on March 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    1. Employees who work for the state in a public service position are not permitted to go on strike under Indiana common law. This means that employees such as teachers and police officers must continue to work during labor negotiations even if a new contract cannot be reached.

    References:
    (Master Contract for the Plymouth Community School Corporation:Article 4, Section 2: Non-Interruption of Work, http://plymouth.k12.in.us/corporation/staff/certified/Mastercontract.pdf)
    (Indiana State Court of Appeals, No. 45A03-0503-CV-114)

    2. ANY teacher can be fired, regardless of tenure or years of service through the action of due process.

    Reference:
    Indiana Code-
    IC 20-28-7
    Chapter 7. Cancellation of Teacher Contracts

  2. jhstone on March 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Not from Beck: The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”

    Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized.

    Union contracts make it next to impossible to reward excellent teachers or fire failing ones(unless they deal out drugs, or etc.). Union contracts give government employees gold-plated benefits – at the cost of higher taxes and less spending on other priorities.

    Did you folks notice that Federal employees cannot strike? Why should state and local governmental and municipal union employees be allowed to?

  3. indianaaggie on March 9, 2011 at 9:07 am

    In response to the previous blog, these teachers traveled to Indianapolis on Saturday, March 5, on their OWN time and expense.

    I just wish people would take the time to learn all of the facts before they ‘bash’ others. It seems that the biggest critics of teachers have never spent a day in a classroom.

  4. ryanripley on March 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Last I checked, teacher’s get vacation time just like the rest of us. What they choose to do with their personal time is up to them.

    We should also be proud of our local teachers as they stepped up to the plate during last budget crisis and made a number of voluntary concessions. Their cooperation led to a winning situation for the tax payers, teachers, and students.

    Our Plymouth school teachers should be commended and thanked, not criticized.

    As far as FDR is concerned, you watch too much Glen Beck.

    FDR was against using collective bargaining as means/reason to strike as this would negatively impact the public. This is clear to anyone who reads the August 16th, 1937 letter to Luther Steward from FDR. This is where Beck got his “proof”.

    Roosevelt passed a number of pieces of legislation that involved collective bargaining by public employees. A few examples: The National Industrial Recovery Act Of 1933, The Tennessee Valley Authority Act, The National Labor Relations Act Of 1935.

    In many of his speeches related to these activities, FDR spoke about the ability to conduct positive collective bargaining between public employees and the government.

    Glen Beck is amusing, but he isn’t really a reliable source…

    Best Regards,

    –Ryan Ripley

  5. jhstone on March 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Teachers can take time out to protest at the students expense. Shows their priorities! Us poor folks who pay their wages must stay and work to support them, perhaps our emails will work as well. Hopefully they were without pay while protesting, and should as well pay for their replacement.

    FDR and union leaders stated that collective barganing had no use in the public sector after they approved the unions.

    This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog!