Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Follow up On Time vs Pay

Nancy Hudak wanted to post a response to the "Time vs Pay" post, but she encountered some problems and asked me to post her response. The following is her post:

As the union representative (MEA UniServ Director) for Aroostook County area local Associations, I appreciated Ed's comments and responded to him off-list because I only have dial-up service at home and posting a comment is problematic, at best. Today, I am at a hotel for a conference and have high-speed access (yay!) and so thought I'd try again.

What I told Ed was that under Maine law, local Associations are not permitted to negotiate planning time as part of the student day. Oddly enough, the Maine Supreme Court determined - many years ago - that planning time (as shorthand for any sort of collegial, collaborative professional interactions during a teacher's work day) is "educational policy", not "working conditions". As such, most language (if it exists) in local contracts regarding planning time is not legally enforceable. There are some exceptions and if anyone wants a short course in Maine labor/education law, let me know!

However, the problem as I see it is that if teachers are going to have regular professional conversations as part of their work, either the law (26 MRSA 965) itself has to change, the interpretation of the law has to change, or some other new law has to be put into place. Otherwise, teachers must count on local school boards/committees to see the need for professional time and put it into place. After that, teachers can only hope that no new board/committee members get elected who think planning time is unnecessary or that the new superintendent believes that s/he needs to "get tough" with teachers!

If you have a chance, you can check a new law which was enacted this past legislative session (LD 1859, which has not been incorporated into the online statutes as of yet) which does mandate some preparation time at the high school level only "to work collaboratively to design high-quality curricula, instruction and assessments [in specific areas]. It may be a start, but I haven't heard much about how it's being addressed around the state.

Thanks for the opportunity to make my pitch!


1 comment:

Diane Whitmore said...

Hmmm, once again no one responds to a blog posting about teacher time because, well, no one had time. So the fact that I'm making time to respond between innings of the Sox-Yankees game serves as evidence that I take this issue pretty seriously! Especially since the Sox are winning!

Nancy's post only addressed collaborative time, but I also consider the lack of personal preparation time an issue. It astounds me that we are assigned more and more work each year but are given less and less time to do it. I have tried and tried to advocate for more personal time for lesson planning, grading, and our new 07-08 tasks, maintaining a personal website and an electronic gradebook open via a parent portal. Other teachers complain, and non-teacher acquaintances are sympathetic and say, "I don't know how you do it." But no one but me and people like Nancy Hudak seems willing to move beyond complaining or sympathizing to advocacy. Why? What am I missing here? We're willing to advocate for our students; why are we not willing to advocate for our own professional needs if the students will benefit?