5 Key Issues with the Tentative Agreement

“Five Reasons to Reject this TA and Fight for Better” authored by Mark Airgood,

Adapted from
Tania Kappner, Adarene Hoag

 1.     The guaranteed salary increase is only 5.5%.  All other raises are tied to

extra work time (2.5% in January of 2016 tied to an extra half hour weekly starting

in 2016/17) or contingent on an elaborate formula tied to state funding.  Starting

in 2016/17, increases in the average cost of Health Care Plans for members will be

rolled into the total compensation formula.  If the cost of Health Care plans go up

(which they do) we will have the cost deducted before we see anything in our

paycheck. In addition, with the statewide rise in STRS Pension contributions by

3.15% over the next 3 years, take-home pay will rise even less.  Lastly, everyone

knows that while California now has a surplus, in future years it is likely to have

another deficit.

 2.      There are no Hard Caps for Special Education class-size and caseload. The

Soft-Caps that were instituted a couple years ago have not been honored. The size

of Special Education class-sizes and caseloads have continued to rise. There is no

reason to think that soft-caps will work now, because of the addition of another

committee to monitor them. We need enforceable language that protects the civil

rights of students with disabilities.

3.     The rewrite of Article 12 in this TA is unacceptable.  It is not appropriate for

some of our members to collaborate with Administration over the hiring and

replacement of other staff members. We must reject having teachers “trained by

Human Resources” for this process (Section of the TA). In addition, at the

time of this writing the TA language for Article 27 on the Waiver process is not yet

available to members. This bears close watching, as it is another area of potential

attack in establishing some schools in which members and students have second-

tier contractual protections.

 4.     Health care is still left out on its own on a separate bargaining table with

the other District unions.  They already gave up Health Net years ago, so there is

no reason to think that this is anything but an attempt by Administration to use

the other unions against the OEA.  We need to keep control of our own heath care

plan and bargain it as part of our package. The loss of Health Net and/or increase

in premiums has a tremendous impact on families and those who fall seriously ill.

After wages, healthcare is the biggest monetary piece of our contract.

5.     Important parts of the contract are opened up for reopeners – Early

Childhood Education in 2015/16 and Evaluation and PAR in 2016/17.  We cannot

let these important parts of our contract be determined in isolation from the rest

of our contract and at a time when we have no effective means to strike. Our

strength is in our unity and ability to take mass action – with our members and

Oakland as a whole. Reopeners are advantageous to the District Administration

not the OEA.

We can do much better! VOTE NO on this Tentative Agreement and fight to win

what we know we need. There is no better time to fight than now.


OUSD seeking approval for $100 million construction of new Administrative Complex

Parents United for Public Schools

Oakland Post article raises questions about the new Dewey Academy project

Unanswered Questions as OUSD Moves Forward on Headquarters Development

Rendering of new OUSD headquarters,

Rendering of new OUSD headquarters, “Design Concept One.”

The Oakland Unified School District is moving ahead with its plan to tear down the district’s old administration building on Second Avenue and East 10th Street and replace it with a new educational complex.


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Are charter schools the solution?

Op-Ed piece by Dan Siegel:

OP-ED: Charter Schools are not the Answer to Oakland’s Public School Crisis

The debate over charter schools is waged on misleading and superficial grounds. According to the dominant narrative, the charter school discussion pits incompetent teachers championed by corrupt unions against sincere, committed parents fighting for a decent education for their children in safe, clean schools.

Reality is much more complicated. Public education is in crisis. Many children, especially low-income children of color, are poorly served by public schools. But charter schools are no better. A recent study concludes that about 30 percent of charter schools out-perform public schools with comparable student bodies, while another 30 percent perform less well than the public schools. We can also identify many examples of successful schools, both public and charter.

But to understand the situation, and the likely result of the move to the large-scale creation of charter schools, people need to pay attention to what is occurring nationally in the charter school movement:

The charter school trend is increasingly dominated by the for profit sector and is receiving massive investments from hedge funds and other investors whose focus is profit, not improving public education.

The primary features of the for-profit model are:

1. Poorly paid, lightly trained teachers whose role is simply to present a simplistic, canned curriculum geared to performance on standardized tests. Few of these teachers will make a career of education, and many charters turn over half of their teachers every year.

2. Limited curriculum that neglects the development of higher order, critical thinking skills in favor of rote learning geared to standardized tests. Some charters actually limit instruction to English language and mathematics, with an increasing percentage of the curriculum presented by computers.

3. Elimination of very poor students, second language learners, and children with learning disabilities, behavior problems, and other characteristics that make them “too expensive” to educate.

The ultimate impact of this model is the re-creation of separate and unequal education systems. Affluent families will send their children to high performing suburban, private, and parochial schools with small classes and experienced teachers who will teach them to think critically, write well, and engage with challenging curricula in the arts, mathematics, science, and foreign languages. Graduates of these schools will be prepared for success in the nation’s best colleges and universities. The charter school graduates will be prepared, at best, to enter the military, community colleges, and the fast food industry.

Our focus in Oakland should be on improving our public schools. Fortunately, we have excellent models based on recent Oakland experience. Oakland Tech, now viewed by many as Oakland’s best high school, was recently a violent, dangerous place with little academic success. Frick Middle School, now a candidate for reorganization, was until recently regarded as a safe, successful school in a severely challenged neighborhood.

Here are some of the elements of a successful school:

1. A strong principal focused on instruction, a teacher of teachers rather than a disciplinarian or fund-raiser. Oakland has many excellent principals and many who should be replaced. When Dennis Chaconas was appointed superintendent in 2000, his first priority was the replacement of 60% of the District’s principals. And then he replaced some of the replacements.

2. Well-paid, well-trained teachers. We need to demand that teachers be paid as much as nurses or police officers, so they can support their families and make instruction a career. The relationship between principals and teachers is clear – good principals attract and retain good teachers, while poor teachers readily leave schools where the culture and peer pressure demands their best efforts.

3, Site-based decision making in the context of accountability for school results. Public schools, just like charters, should be encouraged to develop their own identities and specialties. Public schools could be organized around specialities such as environmental science, African culture, or language arts to provide choices for students and parents.

4. Programs that address students’ life circumstances, including physical and mental health, violence prevention, and nutrition.

5. Active, engaged parent involvement that participates in decision-making as well as support activities.

Over the last 20 years Oakland has enjoyed a substantial number of successful schools at all levels and in all neighborhoods. Concentrating on replicating these schools provides our best opportunities for success.

To fight for successful public schools we need a broad parent-teacher-community coalition with a vision for successful schools and a strategy to make this happen.

Dan Siegel is a civil rights attorney in Oakland.


March to School Board Meeting this Wednesday!

Edna Brewer teachers, parents, and students are planning to march on February 25th to the school board meeting. OEA Reps spoke at our PTSA meeting tonight and got a lot of support. We are planning to leave Brewer at 3:30 and march down to the lake, meeting up with others at the Colonnade at 4pm and march down the side of the lake to the Board Meeting. We are hoping that other schools will join!

In addition to addressing the contract demands, there will be items on the board agenda on giving an unprecedented 3 year contract to TFA, and on reorganization of the job classification of SEIU members working as Teachers’ Aides . Great time to show union solidarity.  We will be inviting all the SEIU members at our site to join the march.