Below is SEE’s statement advocating a “No” vote on the Tentative Agreement. You can also download the flyer here.
VOTE NO on the Tentative Agreement
Educators deserve more – Students deserve more
Teachers are not test scores – Students are not test scores
Let’s stay at the bargaining table, get comparable evaluations to other school districts, and make the district comply with state law
Statement of the Social Equality Educators:
Over the past several weeks, the Seattle Education Association has identified four major sticking points in the contract negotiations– evaluation, the length of the elementary workday, caseload limits for ESAs, and compensation. We in Social Equality Educators strongly believe that the tentative agreement does not adequately address these issues, and that the concessions that have been made on our side are too great.
• Evaluation: Because of changes in state law, the new contract proposes that teachers be evaluated using the new TPEP (Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project). In addition to this, the district proposed an extra evaluation for teachers of tested grade levels or subjects that is based on student growth on standardized tests. As Glenn Bafia explained at last week’s General Assembly of the SEA, Seattle teachers, having jumped through one hoop of the state evaluation system, would be asked to jump through a second hoop of district evaluations, a hoop that no other teachers in the state would be required to jump through! However, this second evaluation has made it into the tentative agreement. Though it is somewhat watered down in terms of the consequences to teachers who receive low student growth numbers, we all know that a low rating on this set of evaluations can and will be used by abusive administrators to bully teachers into raising test scores no matter what. Last year’s MAP boycott showed that we have the support of Seattle families and students on holding the line against the overuse of standardized testing– we need to make this an issue that we are willing to fight for!
• Elementary workday: In public statements, SEA has maintained that we would be open to lengthening the elementary school day if it meant restoring the decades-old cuts in PE, music, and art to comply with state law. The lengthened workday in the tentative agreement, however, does nothing to restore these cuts. If we made increasing access to art, PE and music a central issue of these contract negotiations, we would gain the support of parents and community members and would stand a strong chance of winning compliance with state law.
• Caseload limits for ESAs: In the tentative agreement, the language calls for “working towards workload/caseload limits with actual goals” but does not actually set those limits. We all know that if we leave this issue for discussion after the contract is signed, the district will have very little incentive to do what’s right for staff or for students. This issue is about the basic right of Seattle students to receive access to nursing, psychological, or therapeutic services. It also directly affects the Seattle school district’s ability to meet the needs of special education students. This is an issue that we would have strong backing from the community on, and we must stand firm in demanding caseload limits!
• Compensation: Currently, Seattle teachers rank 4th in compensation when compared to other Puget Sound schools and 8th statewide– and this in a city that is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Given that we have not received a cost-of-living allowance increase in over five years, a 2% raise in the first year and a 2.5% raise in the second feels like nothing but an insult.
In each of the four areas SEA has identified as crucial, we have given up too much in the current tentative agreement. At the General Assembly on August 26th, Seattle teachers and staff voted nearly unanimously to reject the district’s contract proposal.
The current tentative agreement does not represent a substantially better deal than what the district was offering last week—and the SEA membership already voted down. We in Social Equality Educators strongly urge that we vote to reject this tentative agreement.