Non-union teachers could be used online
By Susan Troller
The prospect of a virtual school program in Madison is causing a confrontation in the real world between the Madison school district and John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers’ union.
At issue is whether the Madison district will be violating its collective bargaining contract with local teachers if it develops a virtual school learning program that includes courses taught online by instructors who are not members of MTI.
A virtual learning proposal, under development by the district for over a year, will be presented to the school board for consideration within the next month or so.
“Our position is that only MTI teachers can instruct kids,” Matthews said in an interview. “If someone providing the online instruction is not a licensed teacher in our district, I can’t tell you what the quality of the education will be.”
Matthews wrote a letter this week chastising Board President Johnny Winston Jr. for his advocacy of the online school proposal.
Winston had written in a letter dated Dec. 14 that “the main purpose of the MMSD Virtual School Program is to meet the educational needs of students who are not having their needs met by the District…an online course is just another tool.”
Matthews maintains that online instruction is a form of subcontracting prohibited by the MTI contract.
But Superintendent Art Rainwater said in an interview Friday that the district had been meeting with MTI in its efforts to develop the online program, and that he felt that when all was said and done, it would meet the needs of students, staff and would comply with MTI requirements.
“It’s my belief that what we haven’t worked out yet we will be able to resolve,” Rainwater said. He added that students taking online courses would be supervised and graded by MTI teachers.