Friday, July 15, 2005
HELP WANTED: MORE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS LIKE THIS
I received this note from a school board member from a large district in eastern Nebraska. How I wish more school board members who think this way would be more vocal. And how I wish we could elect more school board members who can do both: care enough to think through what’s really needed in education policy, and be willing to explain it to the rest of us so that a groundswell of public opinion can be formed, strong enough to meaningfully change the system.
Here’s the letter:
On the subject of teacher certification, you hit a homerun. In Nebraska, teacher qualification has little to do with state certification.
On the subject of teacher compensation, you hit a standup triple. Until proper economic forces are allowed to adjust compensation, hiring bonuses, qualifications, and work rules, Nebraska schools will not notice an improved quality of teachers.
The current pay approach for Nebraska teachers is broken. From experience on my local school board and in business, I find the schools’ pseudo-union setup counterproductive. It doesn’t serve students or taxpayers. Heck, it doesn’t even serve the long-term interests of the union membership or school administrations.
I say “pseudo union” because it is not a normal union/management arrangement. In a normal union/management arrangement, the union can strike and management may lockout union employees. Those two rarely-used, extreme possibilities generate a willingness – a seriousness – necessary to re-structure compensation, work rules, and hiring policies to ensure the organization adapts to changing times.
Unfortunately, Nebraska teacher unions cannot strike, nor can school boards lockout teachers. The law requires binding arbitration in the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR). And, the CIR court uses an ossified method for settling disputes: 1.) usually all contract provisions remain the same, and 2.) the pay raise is set according to the school districts in your compensation array. Thus, if four like-schools gave their teachers a 5% raise, that what will be imposed. Of course, all the old practices remain locked in place. No progress can be made; even the desire for personnel-practices improvement disappears.
Are Nebraskans ready for real teacher union/management negotiations? I don’t know. But, since the public is apprehensive about any disruption, even momentary, to school operations, I suspect the public would not support changes to the law.
Yet, until the false union/management negotiation rules are changed, no significant improvement in teacher staffing will occur. And, that is the sorry state of affairs for Nebraska students and taxpayers.
GO BIG ED WILL RESUME ON MONDAY, JULY 25 . . . THAT IS, IF I CAN MANAGE TO GO OUT OF TOWN FOR ONCE WITHOUT HURTING MYSELF!!! :>) PUNCTURED LUNG, FRACTURED RIBS ARE MUCH BETTER AND THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT.
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