Madison Teachers, Inc. Budget Reductions

Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): On March 7, MTI Executive Director Doug Keillor and MTI Office Manager Yvonne Knoche presented the recommended 2016-17 MTI Budget to MTI’s Finance Committee. The Committee unanimously approved the recommendation. In acknowledgment of the financial uncertainties ahead, the Budget recommends a 20% reduction in MTI expenditures […]

Madison Teachers’ Executive Director to Retire

Madison Teachers, Inc. PDF Newsletter On his pending retirement, Matthews said, “I never thought this day would arrive, but I provide this notice knowing we have accomplished so much for MTI members, that while I leave with a heavy heart it is one filled with great satisfaction.” He added that he would remain available to […]

Madison Teachers Re-Certify their Union

Newsletter (PDF) via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email: “Love their Union” came through loud and clear as MTI-represented District employees in all five (5) MTI bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to recertify MTI as their Union. The teacher unit voted 2,624 to recertify (88% of the eligible voters), while the educational assistant unit (EA-MTI) voted 549 […]

Madison Teachers Recertification Results

Madison Teachers, Inc.: Shortly after 2:00 pm today, the WERC posted the recertification results on their webpage. All MTI bargaining units have successfully recertified in BIG NUMBERS! Over 85% of all eligible voters cast ballots in the recertification election. Of those who voted, over 98% voted to recertify. In order to recertify, each union needed […]

Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Plans

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via Jeannie Kamholtz (PDF): So far, one-hundred and fifteen (115) MTI members, teachers, educational assistants, clerical-technical employees and substitute teachers have stepped up to serve as MTI Member Organizers for MTI’s forthcoming recertification election. The Organizers will help to ensure that everyone in their school building/work site understands the importance […]

Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Campaign

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): As previously reported, Governor Walker’s Act 10 requires public sector unions, except police & fire, to participate in an annual recertification election to enable Union members to retain representation by their Union. The election by all MTI-represented District employees will be conducted between […]

Advocating Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification

Madison Teachers, Inc. via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): Governor Walker’s Act 10 requires MTI to engage in a recertification election to retain its status as the representative of those covered by MTI’s collective bargaining units. This year’s election will be conducted between noon November 5 and noon November 25. Voting will be via […]

Election Grist: Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for too long

David Blaska: Teachers are some of our most dedicated public servants. Many inspiring educators have changed lives for the better in Madison’s public schools. But their union is a horror. Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for decades. Selfish, arrogant, and bullying, it has fostered an angry, us-versus-them hostility toward parents, taxpayers, […]

Madison Teachers, Inc. Greets New Hires

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): Members of MTI’s Board of Directors, Bargaining Committee and Union staff greeted the District’s 200+ newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation last Monday. Sixty- five have already joined the union. MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during Monday’s […]

Most Madison teachers will get a good raise

Wisconsin State Journal The president of the Madison teachers union just lamented an “embarrassingly low” wage increase for his members of 0.25 percent. But that doesn’t include automatic pay raises most teachers will receive for their years of experience. A large majority of Madison school teachers (in past years it has ranged from two-thirds to […]

Madison Teachers, Inc. Contract Ratification Meeting – Tuesday, June 3!

MTI Website: This meeting is scheduled to consider ratification of Contract terms for 2015-16 for all five MTI bargaining units. This is a membership meeting. 2013-14 membership cards are required for admission. Those who need assistance with membership issues, and those who are not members at this time and wish to join to enable participation […]

Madison Teachers, Inc: Teacher Contracts to be Issued in May

Madison Teachers, Inc., Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): Pursuant to changes in MTI’s Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement, teacher contracts for the 2014-15 school year will now be issued in MAY instead of March. Signed contracts of all teachers returning for the 2014-15 school year must be received in the MMSD Human Resources […]

Madison Teachers Union “Fair Share” Members

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity eNewsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email:

MTI represents nearly 3,000 teachers in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Of that number, over 96% are members of their Union. That number has been rising since Governor Walker, as he described it, “dropped the bomb” on public employees and collective bargaining almost three years ago.
However, there are currently several hundred MMSD employees in the teacher bargaining unit who are not members of MTI. They choose to be “fair share” contributors – that is, they pay a maintenance fee to the Union for all of the rights and benefits MTI has negotiated for them and provides to them, even though they are not members of their Union. These individuals have no voice in what issues MTI pursues; how MTI is governed; and can’t vote on MTI contracts, or in the election of MTI officers.
Faculty Representatives in each school and work location receive, on a monthly basis, updated lists of members and fair share contributors. What can you do? Share this article with fair share teachers at your work location, and have a discussion about the many rights and benefits MTI has negotiated on their behalf over the last 45 years, e.g., a never-ending salary schedule, health, dental and life insurance, due process, retirement, TERP, leaves of absence, paid sick leave, paid holidays and FMLA integration, to name a few.

American Association of Educators Contacts Madison Teachers

Madison Teachers, Inc., via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

Teachers in Madison recently received an email inviting them to join AAE, and for a very inexpensive fee. For only $15 per month, they say, one can be eligible to apply for a scholarship, receive a publication, and information on professional development. Plus, they claim none of their income will be spent on political action, and a member receives protection via liability insurance. The facts are, that none of what AAE offers is needed.

  • MTI negotiates a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and enforces the Collective Bargaining Agreement via grievance and arbitration.
  • MTI represents teachers who are challenged by the District.
  • The District is responsible by Statute to provide liability insurance and MTI members receive additional liability coverage provided through membership as a result of MTI’s
    affiliation with WEAC & NEA.
  • AAE is anti-union. They even tried to stop the Kenosha
    School Board from ratifying the new recently agreed-upon Contracts.
According to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, “The American Association of Educators, is a group backed by some of the deepest pockets in the anti-public education movement (think Koch brothers). The AAE is partnering with the National Right to Work Committee to encourage educators to give up their (Union) membership and join an organization that has affiliates covering just six states. Right-wing foundations provide nearly all of the money to (operate) the AAE Foundation.”
AAE was able to write to each Madison teacher because they obtained teachers’ email addresses via an open records request from the District.

Madison teachers union ratify contract for 2014-15

Jeff Glaze:

Madison School District teachers and staff will be covered under a collective bargaining agreement through the 2014-15, pending approval by the Madison School Board.
Madison Teachers Inc. members gathered Wednesday evening at Madison Marriott West in Middleton to ratify a one-year contract extension with the district. MTI’s five bargaining units, which include teachers, education assistants, clerical and security staff, and other district employees, all ratified the deal.
The Madison School Board will vote on the agreement Monday.
John Matthews, executive director of the union, said that pending school board approval, MTI would be the only teachers’ union in Wisconsin with a contract through the 2014-15 school year.

Related: Proposed City of Madison budget raises property taxes by 1.5%, while the Madison School District’s 2013-2014 budget increases taxes by 4.5%, after a 9% increase two years ago (and a substantial jump in redistributed state tax dollars last year).

Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining

Solidarity PDF Newsletter:

Given MTI’s victory in Circuit Court, wherein Judge Juan Colas found Act 10 unconstitutional, MTI and the District have agreed to commence Contract negotiations (PDF).
Details of this were announced in a joint letter to all District employees last Friday from Superintendent Jen Cheatham and MTI Executive Director John Matthews. Their letter stated that, “… to be successful this year and in the years to come, District employees must have a work environment that is both challenging and rewarding, and one which includes economic and employment security”. Matthews complimented the Superintendent and Board members for their progressive philosophy in recognizing the essentials in positive employment relations.
Contracts existed in all 423 school districts at the time Act 10 was passed in 2011. Currently, workers in only four school districts enjoy the wages, benefits and rights which a Collective Bargaining Agreement provides. The current Contracts for MTI’s five bargaining units expire June 30, 2014.
The State has appealed Judge Colas’ decision. The matter will be heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November or December. In his ruling, Judge Colas stated that Act 10 was passed in a very controversial manner, skipping several steps mandated by legislative rules and Wisconsin law, and that it violated public workers’ Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as well as the Constitutional guaranteed Equal Protection Clause.

I wonder what the sentiment across the teacher population might be? Perhaps there have been surveys?

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email (PDF):

WELCOME BACK!
To each and every one of the nearly 5,000 District employees who are represented by MTI, welcome, as the 2013-14 school year begins! MTI is the collective bargaining agent for all teachers and non-supervisory professional staff, educational assistants (EA-MTI), clerical/technical personnel (SEE-MTI), substitute teachers (USO-MTI), and school security assistants (SSA-MTI) who are employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District. It is the Union’s mission to negotiate the best possible Collective Bargaining Agreements, and to provide the best representation and service possible, when assisting members with any Contract or work-related matter. Contact your Union staff at MTI Headquarters (257-0491 or www.madisonteachers.org) should you have a question or need assistance with any Contract or work-related matter.
This school year will be one of challenge as MTI moves to preserve members’ wages, benefits and rights. MTI is one of the few public employee unions with contracts in place, given the devastating impact of Walker’s Act 10.
MTI Greets New Hires
Members of MTI’s Board of Directors, Bargaining Committee and Union staff greeted the District’s newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation last Monday. On Tuesday MTI hosted a luncheon for the 250 new members of MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
MTI President Peg Coyne and MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during Tuesday’s luncheon. In doing so, Matthews provided a brief history of the Union, its reputation of negotiating outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreements which provide both employment security and economic security, and in explaining the threat to both, given Act 10, said all MTI members would need to pull together to preserve the Madison Metropolitan School District as a quality place to teach.
President Coyne gave a warm MTI welcome to those present, discussed MTI’s structure and stressed the need for member participation in political action, if public employees are to regain the right to collectively bargain and if schools are to be adequately funded.
District retiree Jan Silvers lighted up the room when discussing how her life and career was much more enjoyable and rewarding having MTI as her advocate, especially when it came to the ability to experience religious freedom and work during pregnancy. She was awarded 16 years of back pay plus interest as a result of MTI’s litigation. Teachers, through the early 1970’s, had to advise their principal “immediately upon becoming pregnant” and were obligated to resign when the pregnancy “began showing”. As a result of MTI’s accomplishments, such antiquated and degrading policies are history.

Commentary on Wisconsin Act 10, Madison Teachers “Base Wages” and “Step Increases”

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Base wages, in all MTI/MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreements, have not increased since the passage of Act 10 in 2011. Act 10 also removed the benefit for the members of all MTI bargaining units of the District paying the employee’s share of the mandated deposit in the Wisconsin Retirement System. This in itself caused a 6.2% reduction take-home wages. MTI had negotiated in the early 1970’s that the District pay the WRS deposit. This part of Act 10 caused a loss in earnings of $11.7 million last school year and another $12.9 million this school year for District employees.
All employees do not automatically move up on the salary schedule each year. Members of the clerical/technical bargaining unit, for example, receive a wage additive based on months of service. These “longevity” payments begin at the 49th month of service, with the next one beginning at the 80th month of service.
There are similar increments between the increases in longevity payments. Last year, 199 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 70 who received no increase in wage.
Members of the educational assistant and school security assistant bargaining units, for example, receive a longevity increase after three years of service, but not anotheroneuntilafter12yearsofservice. Lastyear,282 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year there were 321 who received no increase in wage.
The teachers’ salary schedule requires that a teacher earn six credits each four years and receive his/her principal’s recommendation to be able to cross the salary barrier. This is at each four-year improvement level. For incentive levels, beginning at level 16, one progresses only every two years, and then only if he/she earns three credits and receives his/her principal’s recommendation. Last year, 941 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 701 who received no increase in wage.

Related:

Madison Schools’ Budget Updates: Board Questions, Spending Through 3.31.2013, Staffing Plan Changes.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):

What’s the first ingredient necessary to address workplace concerns? The opportunity to talk with colleagues to identify areas of common concerns and brainstorm about possible solutions. That’ s the conclusion reached by the clerical and technical employees who attended the March 20 SEE-MTI General Membership meeting. In response, SEE-MTI President Kris Schiltz and MTI staff rep Doug Keillor agreed to schedule monthly membership organizing workshops to provide: 1) an opportunity to get together to talk and 2) to further develop an organizing approach to problem-solving. The first workshop was held on April 24, and the next workshop will be held soon with notice in MTI Solidarity!.
The organizing workshops are structured to provide a brief update on what is happening across the district relative to SEE unit concerns (e.g. surplus declarations, budget proposals, etc.) and then those present breakout (e.g. elementary, middle, high, administration) to discuss their concerns, facilitated by their unit rep. Following the small group discussions the participants reconvene to report on topics of discussion and organizing relative to the identified issues.
While MTI has used similar organizing models on a smaller scale for years, the monthly SEE-MTI member organizing workshops are an attempt to further institutionalize this approach, engaging more Union members in the process and leading to better potential outcomes.
All SEE-MTI members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Join your fellow Union members in working for positive change in the District!

Madison Teachers, Inc. “Patch Through” Voucher Phone Bank May 9

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):

Thanks to the volunteers who helped make phone calls at MTI on April 23. With few volunteers, 51 callers were “patched through” to leave a message for Senator Sheila Harsdorf that voucher expansion is bad for Wisconsin and that public schools must be fully funded. The Governor’s proposed budget will take $96 million from public schools to fund private and parochial “voucher” schools and private charter schools.
This program was a great success in other Senate Districts as well, generating well over 200 contacts last week. Any member interested in giving this a try, another night of calling is being considered for Thursday, May 9, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., at MTI. The constituents we are calling are targeted based on their likelihood to respond positively and include WEAC members and voters favorable to public schools. This fight is critical because if we lose, voucher schools will be coming to Madison, whether we want them or not, with slick marketing campaigns designed to lure tax dollars into their pockets by denigrating our public schools. Don’t let this happen! We need seven confirmed volunteers to make this set-up worthwhile.
If you can join us next Thursday, please contact Jeff Knight (knightj@madisonteachers.org / 257-0491).

Madison Teachers Files Notice to Bargain with the School District

Madison Teachers Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):

MTI has filed notice with the Board of Education and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) to open bargaining for 2014-15 Collective Bargaining Agreements for all five (5) MTI bargaining units. Bargaining is enabled by Judge Colas’ decision that Act 10, which sought to bar public sector bargaining, is unconstitutional. The City of Madison and the County of Dane have contracts with all City and County unions through 2015.
Last week MTI filed an additional petition with Judge Colas because of the failure of the Governor and the WERC Commissioners to implement those parts of Act 10 which Colas found to violate the Wisconsin Constitution. The WERC Commissioners contend that, because Judge Colas did not issue an injunction, they may ignore his declaratory judgment when considering cases filed at the WERC. The WERC Commissioners and the Governor apparently believe that without a specific injunction directing them to abide by the Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality, they are free to apply the law as they, not the Court, interprets it.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews said, “The above-described actions of the WERC Commissioners and the Governor, who are parties to the case, are unprecedented. They argued that the law was constitutional and they lost. They asked for a stay from the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals and they lost. By implementing and enforcing a law determined to be unconstitutional, they are saying ‘We are above the law.’ That is intolerable. Consequently, MTI has returned to court to seek an injunction to force the WERC Commissioners, and the Governor who controls them, to respect the Courts and follow the law.”
MTI expects to exchange bargaining proposals with the District within the next few weeks. MTI represents approximately 5,000 District employees in five different bargaining units. They are teachers (MTI), educational assistants (EA-MTI), clerical/technical employees (SEE-MTI), substitute teachers (USO-MTI) and school security assistants (SSA-MTI).
In addition to the usual topics, MTI bargaining will include District proposals to amend Contract terms about parent-teacher conferences and possible extension, in some schools, of the school day and school year.

Fascinating. It appears likely that Madison’s “status quo” governance model will continue.
Commentary on Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes’ Teacher Salary Increase Colloquy.
Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

The Madison Teachers, Inc. Budget Process

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF):

Each year about this time MTI begins the process of developing its budgets for the ensuing fiscal year, in this case July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. MTI has two (2) budgets, one for MTI (the Union) and one for the MTI Building Corporation, the owner of MTI’s headquarters building.
MTI’s budget is the operating budget under which the Union provides services to the members of its five (5) bargaining units; i.e. the Teacher/professional unit (MTI); the Educational Assistants bargaining unit (EA-MTI); the Clerical/Technical bargaining unit (SEE-MTI); the Substitute Teacher bargaining unit (USO-MTI); and the Security Assistants bargaining unit (SSA-MTI).
This year’s proposed budgets are based on last year’s dues levels; i.e. no dues increase. This is the second straight year the Union has not proposed a dues increase.

“High Quality Madison Teachers” vs. “New Programs Every Few Years”, “Plenty of Resource$”; Madison’s latest Superintendent Arrives

Matthew DeFour:

“I have no doubt that the way we’re going to improve student achievement is by focusing on what happens in the classroom,” Cheatham said.
Clash with unions

Madison Teachers Inc.
executive director John Matthews and others say poverty drives the achievement gap more so than classroom factors.
“We do have a high-quality teaching force in Madison — it’s been that way for years,” Matthews said. He added that one challenge he’d like to see Cheatham address is the administration’s tendency to adopt new programs every few years.
Cheatham’s salary will be $235,000, 17 percent more than predecessor Dan Nerad. Unlike Nerad, a former Green Bay social worker and superintendent, Cheatham has never led an organization. She also hasn’t stayed in the same job for more than two years since she was a teacher in Newark, Calif., from 1997 to 2003.
Mitchell, who beat out Cheatham for the top job at Partners in School Innovation where she worked for a year before moving to Chicago, said Cheatham has the talent to become schools chief in a major city like Chicago or New York in seven to 10 years. That’s a benefit for Madison because Cheatham is on the upswing of her career and must succeed in order to advance, Mitchell said.
“The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does.”

Related: A history of Madison Superintendent experiences.
I asked the three (! – just one in 2013) 2008 Madison school board candidates (Gallon, Nerad or McIntyre), if they supported “hiring the best teachers and getting out of the way”, or a “top down” approach where the District administration’s department of “curriculum done our way” working in unison with Schools of Education, grant makers and other third parties attempt to impose teaching models on staff.
Union intransigence is one of the reasons (in my view) we experience administrative attempts to impose curricula via math or reading “police”. I would prefer to see a “hire the best and let them teach – to high global standards” approach. Simplify and focus on the basics: reading, writing, math and science.

Madison Teachers Newsletter: Teacher Retirement and TERP Deadline February 15

Madison Teaches, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter via a kind Linda Doeseckle email:

In order for one to be eligible for the MTI-negotiated Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP) [Clusty Search], he/she must be a full-time teacher, at least 55 years old, with a combined age (as of August 30 in one’s retirement year) and years of service in the District totaling at least 75. (For example, a teacher who is 57 and has eighteen (18) years of service to the MMSD would be eligible: 57 + 18 = 75.) Teachers who are younger than age 55 are eligible if they have worked for the MMSD at least 30 years. Up to ten (10) part-time teachers may participate in TERP each year provided they have worked full-time within the last ten (10) years and meet the eligibility criteria described above.
Retirement notifications, including completed TERP agreements, are due in the District’s Department of Human Resources no later than February 15. Appointments can be made to complete the TERP agreement and discuss insurance options at retirement by calling the District’s Benefits Manager, Sharon Hennessy at 663-1795.
MTI was successful in negotiations for the 2009-13 and 2013-14 Contracts in negotiating a guaranteed continuance of TERP. Thus, MTI members can be assured that TERP runs through 2014 and not feel pressured into retirement before they are ready.
MTI Assistant Director Doug Keillor is available to provide guidance and/or to provide estimated benefits for TERP , insurance continuation, application of one’ s Retirement Insurance Account, WRS and Social Security. Call MTI Headquarters (257-0491) to schedule an appointment.

What Does Your MTI (Madison Teachers, Inc.) Contract Do for You? The Right to File a Grievance

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity enewsletter via a kind Linda Doeseckle email (PDF):

When a union member files a grievance it means that the member and his or her union believe the employer has failed to live up to its end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They are called “agreements” for a reason: the union and the employer have agreed that what has been agreed upon in negotiations is what both parties will live by, that it is best for the employee and the employer. A Collective Bargaining Agreement is a legally binding Contract.
Filing a grievance sets in motion a process for resolving the employee’s complaint. Once a grievance is filed, the union and the employer meet in a process set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to discuss the reasons it was filed. When the issue cannot be resolved through discussions, the union may take the complaint to a neutral third party (an arbitrator) who will decide whether the Contract has been violated. Wisconsin law assures that union- represented employees cannot be retaliated against because of filing a grievance.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement is the Constitution of the workplace, and only unionized employees, like members of MTI, are protected by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Attorney Representing Madison Teachers, Inc and WEAC Profiled in the Capital Times

Steven Elbow:

To complete the hat trick, late last month Pines, representing Madison Teachers Inc. and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, stuck it to Republicans again when Dane County Judge Amy Smith struck down part of a law that consolidated rule-making authority in the governor’s office. That law gave Gov. Scott Walker control over rules that govern agencies like the Attorney General’s Office, the Government Accountability Board, the Employment Relations Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Instruction, all of which were previously independent. Pines argued, and Smith agreed, that State Superintendent Tony Evers had constitutional powers beyond the governor’s reach.
“They extended (the law) to the Department of Public Instruction despite the fact that they were told in the brief legislative hearings they held on that bill that it was likely unconstitutional,” says Pines. “But they didn’t care. They just did it.”
While Pines’ recent wins are likely to be appealed, one thing is clear: He’s on a roll. How did he get to be such a pain in the collective GOP butt?

Madison teachers union to demand contract talks

Janesville Gazette:

The Madison teachers union will be demanding that the district begin new collective bargaining contract negotiations in light of a court ruling overturning parts of a state law that previously forbid it.
John Matthews, head of the Madison teachers union, said Monday that the request is likely to be sent to the district on Tuesday. District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson had no immediate comment.
Madison school employees are currently covered under a union contract that ends on June 30, 2012. Typically, talks for the next two-year contract wouldn’t begin until February.

More, here.

Madison Teachers’ Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers’, Inc. 65K PDF, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Members of MTI’s Board of Directors and Union staff greeted the District’s newly hired teachers at New Teacher Orientation on Monday. There are 250 new members of MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews addressed the District’s new teachers during their Tuesday session. In doing so, Matthews provided a brief history of the Union, its reputation of negotiating outstanding Collective Bargaining Agreements which provide both employment security and economic security, and in explaining the threat to both, given Act 10, said all MTI members would need to pull together to preserve the Madison Metropolitan School District as a quality place to teach.
Matthews told the new hires that these benefits and rights, along with MTI’s action to assure due process and workplace justice, has earned MTI the reputation of being one of the best Unions in the country. To illustrate the magnitude of MTI’s accomplishments over the years, Matthews told about school board policy mandating female teachers, through the early 1970’s, having to advise their principal “immediately upon becoming pregnant”, and being obligated to resign when the pregnancy “began showing.” As a result of MTI’s accomplishments, such antiquated, degrading policies are history, he said.
Matthews also cited MTI’s precedent setting accomplishments in advancing employee rights regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, and negotiating such things as the school calendar and health insurance. Until the early 1970’s, the school calendar only accommodated Christian holidays. MTI’s litigation expanded the benefit to cover all religions.
Continue the Awareness, Continue the Protest, Wear Red for Education
Since February, 2011, MTI members have been tirelessly protesting and working to end the disastrous impact on public sector workers of Governor Scott Walker’s union busting destructive budget. The most important reasons for resistance vary from one union member to another and include: the Legislation jeopardizes children’s future and the viability of public education and other public services; its provisions are dishonest and immoral; they constitute an attack on Wisconsin’s working-class and middle-class values; they ask for no shared sacrifice from the wealthy or profitable corporations.
Payroll checks for all public employees have been substantially lessened because of Act 10, causing financial hardship for many families. Walker’s Law forces all public employees to pay 50% of retirement contributions, even though MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District have agreed as part of one’s total compensation package dating to the early 1970’s, that the District would pay 100% of the contribution and many have increased contributions for health insurance.
MTI leaders are working with other public sector union leaders across Wisconsin to reverse this disastrous legislation.
Ready, Set, Goal Conferences
As previously reported in MTI Solidarity!, the Ready, Set Goal (RSG) memorandum has been amended, as a result of grievance mediation.
The Memorandum of Understanding between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District, which governs RSG Conferences has been amended to include the following parameters which apply, when determining the amount of compensation due a teacher for holding RSG Conferences during times other than scheduled school day(s)/ hours:

  • Teachers receive up to 15 minutes per student for conference preparation.
  • Teachers receive up to 30 minutes for each conference held.
  • Teachers are compensated for up to two parent “no shows” per student, at 30 minutes per scheduled conference. Teachers are not obligated to schedule a RSG conference after there have been two parent “no shows”. However, a teacher will be compensated pursuant to Section 2b (second bullet above), if the teacher thereafter holds a RSG conference for the student.
  • Compensation will continue to include traveling to/from homes of parents, or other mutually agreed upon meeting place(s), or traveling to/from school if the conferences are not at a time adjacent to the Contract day. Mileage shall be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and reasonable expenses for refreshments shall be reimbursed.

The full RSG agreement is located on MTI’s website (www.madisonteachers.org). Questions can be directed to Assistant Director Eve Degen at MTI (257-4091 or degene@madisonteachers.org).

Madison Teachers Newsletter; Teacher & Labor Course

Solidarity 65K PDF:

Register now for Teaching Labor History Course August 6 and 7
Many MTI members have asked that MTI once again sponsor a staff development course conducted by the UW Extension’s School for Workers on “Teaching Labor History Through Film and Media: Struggles from Our Past & Present, Part 2”. Using films, music and other sources (which were not shown during last year’s course) this class will look at some of the epic struggles of workers in recent and contemporary history and will discuss ideas about teaching labor history and collective bargaining in the classroom. The course will also examine the impact of economic, social and political conditions on workers and their unions, as well as the role played by business and government. The course will also examine the significance of immigration, and ethnic, racial and gender differences to the evolution of the American working class.
The ten (10 ) hour, two-day course will meet from 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on August 6 and 7, 2012. The course is offered at no cost to MTI members, a light lunch will be provided. Space is limited to the first 40 registrants. Under the terms of MTI’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Madison teachers may be eligible for 1.0 PAC credits, subject to approval by the MTI/MMSD Professional Advancement Credit Committee.
Contact MTI to register (257-0491 or mti@madisonteachers.org)

Madison Teachers Meetings Scheduled 5/16 and 5/22

60K PDF Newsletter via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Members of all MTI bargaining units (MTI, EA-MTI, SEE-MTI, SSA-MTI and USO-MTI) are invited to attend an MTI meeting to discuss the impact of Governor Walker’s Act 10 on MTI members, on MTI’s various Collective Bargaining Agreements, on the Union itself, and where we can go from here. A question and answer session will follow. Do you have questions?

  • Wednesday, May 16, 4:30-6:00 p.m., LaFollette High School, Room C-17
  • Tuesday, May 22, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park Street

MTI staff and elected leaders are also available to attend meetings at your school or work site. Speak to your MTI Faculty Representative today about scheduling a meeting.

This Morning @ Madison’s Thoreau Elementary School While Voting; Latest Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter



The 2012 Wisconsin recall election primary is today. Teacher appreciation week is underway as well.
teacher-appreciation.info

Teachers – the people who educate us and give us the vital knowledge which we need to live our lives. They encourage, support, discipline and prepare us for the road ahead and now it’s time for us to show them our appreciation. Teacher Appreciation Week begins on the 7th until the 11th of May 2012, which will be the perfect opportunity for us to show teachers how thankful we are for their support. So boys and girls, it’s time for us to demonstrate how much our teachers mean to us, let’s all say a big thank you to the people who work really hard so that we can have a better future.
The 8th of May 2012 will mark Teacher Appreciation Day and students all across America will show their appreciation by rewarding their teachers with lovely gifts. These gifts can come in a variety of shapes and sizes – remember, it’s the thought that counts! Your school will also have a special schedule lined up which will provide many outlets for you to show how much you’re teacher means to you. Maybe you could write your teacher a poem or even a story about your favorite memory. You may also choose to make you’re teacher a “best teacher in the world” award, and present it to him or her during the week.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF):

If you are not among those who voted early, be sure you vote tomorrow. The terrible legislation, Act 10, which has put your economic security and your employment security at risk would not be on
the books if voter turnout in 2010 had been as great as in 2008. 812,086 fewer people voted in Wisconsin in 2010 than in 2008. Governor Walker won by only 124,638. Every MTI member doing their part will help reverse Act 10 and restore your rights and security. No matter who wins the primary, we need ALL HANDS ON DECK to rid our state of Governor Walker’s divisive approach to balancing the budget on the backs of working families, cuts to public education, women’s health and the dismantling of the safety net, in favor of continued tax breaks to out-of-state corporate interests funding his campaign and his legal defense fund. The far-right is trying to make Wisconsin the model for how to break unions. Join those standing up against Act 10 by ensuring that everyone votes on June 5!
MTI Faculty Representatives will schedule a meeting at each work site to discuss the effective ways to increase voter turnout. Make contact with friends and family, encourage them to vote, make a phone call or send a note or email the importance of this election. Personal contact makes a big difference.
MTI members will be making calls to union households from the Labor Temple and participating in door-to-door contacts. These efforts are aimed at reaching the infrequent voters, particularly those who voted in 2008 and did not vote in 2010. We need them to assure success. This election will directly impact the future of your profession, your pay and your benefits, your security and the future of public education.
Action is needed to assure success. See www.madisonteachers.org for ways to get involved.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Executive Director John Matthews on the achievement gap, Act 10 and Scott Walker

Pat Schneider:

CT: What about the training and capabilities of Madison school teachers and how they deliver in the classroom day to day — is there room for improvement there?
JM: Well, there’s always room for improvement — there’s room for improvement in what I do. I can only say that the Madison School District has invested all kinds of things in professional development. One thing teachers tell us if they have time to work together, they can make strides. I found early in my career if I’m having a teacher identified as having a performance problem, ask the principal who is the best at doing what they want this teacher to do. Then you go to that teacher and say: “You have a colleague who needs help, will you take them under your wing?” I don’t have access to any of what they talk about, management doesn’t have access to that — it’s been a remarkably successful venture.
CT: In discussion of the achievement gap in Madison I’ve heard from African-American parents up and down the economic spectrum who say that their children are met at school with low expectations that really hamper their performance.
JM: I’ve heard that too. The Madison School District has an agreed-upon mandatory cultural course that people have to take. But there are people in society who don’t like to be around other races. I don’t see that when teachers are together. And we have a variety of people who are leaders in MTI — either Asian or Indian or black — but there are people who have different expectations from people who are different from them.
CT: Does the union have a role in dealing with teachers whose lowered expectations of students of color might contribute to the achievement gap?
JM: The only time MTI would get involved is if somebody was being criticized for that, we’d likely be involved with that; if someone were being disciplined for that, we would be involved. We’ve not seen that.

Madison Teachers Inc. finds ‘one more reason to recall’ Walker

Todd Finkelmeyer:

The leadership of Madison Teachers Inc. is letting its membership know it has unearthed yet another reason to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
In its weekly “Solidarity!” newsletter that was mailed out Friday, the union warns how administrative rules recently released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission related to the implementation of Act 10 could result in teachers’ pay being cut.
“This is causing a lot of angst,” says John Matthews, executive director of MTI.
“This could be very bad for teachers,” adds state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, who sits on the Assembly’s Committee on Education. “These rules allow for teachers’ base pay to be redefined, and I think that’s absurd.”
The roots of this story reach back to last summer, when Act 10 eliminated most public employees’ ability to collectively bargain over virtually anything except “base wages.” Even then, workers are limited to bargaining over raises that can’t exceed the consumer price index (CPI), unless voters approve a hike via a referendum.
After receiving requests to explain what “base wages” could be bargained over, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) — a state agency designed to settle labor disputes — worked on rules to clarify the matter.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers Inc 92K PDF Newsletter:

EMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT. That is one message that should be evident with all that has happened in the last year. A functioning democracy requires an informed and engaged citizenry. Such is as true with union democracy as it is in a political democracy. MTI is a union of 4,700 members in five bargaining units, each with Bylaws enabling democratic governance to ensure the union reflects the will of its members. Each MTI unit elects its leadership – every member has a vote, and is free to seek office. Also, Collective Bargaining Agreements are subject to member ratification, with every member having a vote. Similarly, the MTI Budget is enacted only after approval by the MTI Finance Committee and by approval by the MTI Joint Fiscal Group, which is comprised of representatives proportionate to the membership of each of the five bargaining units. But,just like the right of suffrage cannot ensure voter participation, neither can union Bylaws ensure member participation in the union. Only you can. YOU ARE THE UNION.
In the coming months, your union will be engaging in a number of initiatives to further engage individuals in discussion about your union, what we have achieved together, what is at risk, and where we can go from the terrible situation created by Governor Walker’s Act 10. Beginning with a Member Engagement Survey which is being sent to the personal e-mail addresses of all MTI members who have shared their email address with the Union from all five bargaining units. Members are encouraged to take ten minutes to complete the on-line survey and share their thoughts. If you have not already provided your personal e-mail address to MTI, please do so now by contacting kantzlerr@madisonteachers.org. Those for whom MTI does not have a personal email address may access the survey on MTI’s webpage www.madisonteachers.org or by calling MTI Headquarters (257-0491).

Madison Teachers, Inc 4.1.2012 Newsletter

PDF Solidarity Newsletter:

Among the excellent benefits available to MTI members is the additional worker’s compensation benefit provided by MTI’s various Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Wisconsin Statutes provide a worker’s compensation benefit for absence caused by a work-related injury or illness, but such commences on the 4th day of absence and has a maximum weekly financial benefit.
MTI’s Contracts provide one’s full wage, beginning on day one of an absence caused by a work-related injury or illness, with no financial maximum. Also, under MTI’s Contract provision, one’s earned sick leave is not consumed by such an absence.
Although MTI is working to preserve this benefit, it is at risk due to Governor Walker’s Act 10.

Madison Teachers’ Solidarity: What Does Your MTI Contract Do For You? School Calendar

MTI Solidarity, via a kind Jeanie Bettner email:

Does it matter to you when school begins in the fall? How about when and how long winter or spring break is? When school ends for the year? Or, does it matter to you how many days you work for your annual salary, or how many hours make up the school day? In members’ responses to MTI’s Bargaining Survey, all of these factors are “very important” to those in MTI’s teacher bargaining unit.
It was MTI’s case in 1966 which gave teacher unions an equal voice on all of the above topics. Ruling for MTI, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the school calendar is a mandatory subject of bargaining, meaning that a school district in Wisconsin must negotiate with the Union to determine each of the factors described above. Governor Walker’s Act 10 in effect overturned the Supreme Court’s ruling because Act 10 removed workers’ rights to collectively bargain.
Impact? Act 10 enables a school board without a good conscience, to engage in mischief or abuse of all MTI represented staff especially teachers because they are paid an annual salary not on an hourly basis.
MTI is fighting to overturn Act 10 and to restore the Union’s right to negotiate over the school calendar.

Madison Teachers’, Inc President Coyne and MTI Activist Kathryn Burns take Political Experience to Japan

Madison Teachers, Inc. via a kind Jeanie Bettner email:

The Osaka Social Forum (OSF) is “a coalition of citizens’ groups, trade unions and other issue-oriented groups” in the Osaka and Kansai region, which includes Kyoto and Kobe, in Japan. A four day Pre Forum planning session was held February 24-27 and, at the request of OSF, MTI President Peg Coyne (Black Hawk) and MTI activist Kathryn Burns (Shorewood) were guest speakers and participants in the forum, sharing the stories of the “Wisconsin Uprising”. The Japanese organizers wanted to benefit from MTI’s leadership in fighting Governor Walker’s anti-public worker legislation. As Mr. Yoshihide Kitahata, a forum organizer, OSF host and translator, explained, “It is very difficult to bring the many groups together in Japan, and we want to hear about the struggles against harsh attacks on public education and trade union rights in Wisconsin.”
A series of meetings held in Osaka and Kyoto featured a video produced by Labor Beat and Osamu Kimura, a former Japanese high school teacher and current documentarian; and speeches with question and answer sessions by Coyne and Burns. Many observed that current mayor and former governor of the Osaka Prefecture, Toru Hashimoto, seems to be “taking pages out of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s play book.” Mayor Hashimoto and his backers are proposing 40% pay cuts for city bus drivers, threatening to throw the office of the city workers’ union out of city hall and has introduced an ordinance requiring teachers to stand and sing the national anthem at all school functions. The Mayor’s proposed ordinance “proposes to choose principals by open recruitment and incorporates a clause to dismiss teachers who refuse to stand while singing the Kimigayo national anthem at school functions.”
Coyne and Burns heard stories of teachers fired over the national anthem issue. Ms. Msako Iwashita, a retired high school social studies teacher, said that 200 of her students followed her lead and refused to stand as the flag was raised and the anthem played at a high school graduation. Ms. Iwashita, whose business card displays the words, “Hope, Peace and Article 9” explains that many citizens and older teachers, in particular, are distressed that the government did not replace the rising sun flag and Kimigayo after World War II. It is felt that these two symbols of Japan’s aggression against neighboring Asian countries and the United States are an embarrassment and too militaristic for a modern country that espouses peace. (Article 9 is a Constitutional Agreement that declares Japan’s commitment to peace and refusal to engage in weapons build up.)

Latest Madison Teachers’ Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers’, Inc. Solidarity via a kind Jeanne Bettner email:

MTI and the District have been in dispute regarding the interpretation of Section III-R of the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding Class Covering Pay since 2007 when MTI filed a grievance on behalf of the staff at Sennett Middle School. The grievance was over class covering pay when a substitute teacher is unavailable and students were assigned to other staff.
Resolution was achieved through a grievance mediation process which MTI and the District entered into last school year in an attempt to deal with a backlog of grievances. The process, which was recommended by Mediator/Arbitrator Howard Bellman during negotiations three years ago, is part of a project begun by Northwestern University Law School.
The mediated agreement resulted in clarity to the language that ensures teachers and other teacher bargaining unit members are compensated for covering another teacher’s class while leaving some flexibility for unforeseen emergencies and rare occurrences.
Section III-R states that when the District is unable to assign a substitute teacher to cover for an absent teacher, the building principal must first solicit volunteers from those teachers available to cover the class in question. If no teacher volunteers, the principal may assign a teacher to cover another teacher’s class.
The District had maintained that to be compensated for this work the covering teacher had to lose prep or planning time. MTI disputed that interpretation. In addition, the District contended that classes could be split up and assigned to multiple classrooms without receiving class covering pay.
The following constitutes the resolution of this matter as to when class covering pay is owed to teachers:

Madison Schools Governance & Madison Teachers



Tweet, in reply to this, via a kind reader.
Related: Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:

Given Act 10’s negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?

Much more on More on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Achievement Gap Presentation: $105,600,000 over 5 Years.

Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira
Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:

Given Act 10’s negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?

Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
I suspect that at least 60% of Wisconsn school districts will adopt their current teacher contracts as “handbooks”. The remainder will try different approaches. Some will likely offer a very different environment for teachers.

Madison Teachers Candidate Endorsement(s)



To all of you with #recallwithdrawal: Time to focus on Arlene and Micheal for #MMSDBOE!! #99percent
MTI is officially endorsing Arlene Silviera for Madison School Board. Come meet her tonight! 100 WI Ave #700 5-7pm


1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
via a kind reader’s email

Madison Teachers, Inc. on The Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School

John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., via email:

The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League’s proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers, because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Madison Metropolitan School District and MTI.
The Urban League proposes to use District funds to hire non-District teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting between representatives of Madison Prep, the School District and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the District enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts, who are employed by the District. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD Contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970’s that the District would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the Contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Nerad and John Matthews. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to Superintendent Nerad.
It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to NOT ADDITIONALLY pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.
Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the District could modify the MMSD/MTI Contract without triggering Act 10, Governor Walker’s draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The Contract would be destroyed if MTI and the District agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker’s Law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker’s Act 65 would enable the Contract to be amended without the horrible impact cause by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.
The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the Charter Plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the District, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.

Some Madison Teachers & Some Community Members (*) on the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School



200K PDF File, via a kind reader.
Madison Teacher’s Inc. Twitter feed can be found here.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
* Please see TJ Mertz’s comment below. A link to the document was forwarded to me via a kind reader from Madison Teachers, Inc. Twitter Feed (a “retweet” of Karen Vieth’s “tweet”). Note that I enjoyed visiting with Karen during several Madison School District strategic planning meetings.
A screenshot of the link:

The outcome of the Madison Prep “question” will surely reverberate for some time.
Finally, I suspect we’ll see more teacher unions thinking different, as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has done: Minneapolis teacher’s union approved to authorize charter schools.

Proposed Madison Prep IB Charter School and Madison Teachers, Inc will work together on new charter school; to be staffed largely with Union Teachers

Susan Troller:

Several major impediments facing the proposed Madison Prep charter school appear closer to resolution after a series of meetings and communications Friday between Urban League CEO Kaleem Caire, district Superintendent Daniel Nerad and John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
The changes are just in time for a public hearing on the Urban League-backed school on Monday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton St.
In a major shift, the proposed charter school will now be what’s called an “instrumentality” of the Madison Metropolitan School District. That means a significant portion of the school’s staff will be covered by the contract the district has with the local teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc. The contract runs through the end of June 2013

Matthew DeFour and Gayle Worland:

On the eve of a public hearing for Madison Preparatory Academy — a proposed charter school with single-sex classrooms focused on raising the academic performance of minority students — backers of the school agreed to employ union staff, eliminating a potential hurdle to approval of the school.
A budget plan for Madison Prep, proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison, also was released late Friday. It estimates the Madison School District would spend $19.8 million over five years on the school, or about $2,000 less per student than it spends on other secondary-school students.
In lengthy meetings Friday, Urban League officials hammered out an agreement with Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents Madison school teachers. MTI executive director John Matthews said the union, which previously opposed creation of Madison Prep, will remain neutral on whether the school should be approved.

Fascinating. It will be interesting to see the substance of the arrangement, particularly its implications for the current MMSD schools and Madison Prep’s curriculum and operating plans. 
A friend notes that the change is “stunning” and that it will likely “cost more” and perhaps “gut” some of Madison Prep’s essential components.

Madison Teachers union receives national recognition for organizing protests

Samuel Schmitt:

A Madison teachers union will receive a national award for its organizational work during last spring’s protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill throughout Wisconsin.
The Institute for Policy Studies, located in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday Madison Teachers Incorporated would be honored with the Letelier-Motiff Human Rights Award on Oct. 12, said ISP spokesperson Lacy MacAuleyet.
IPS annually presents two awards to honor those who the group believes to be “unsung heroes of the progressive movement.” One award is presented domestically and one internationally, she said.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews said the union has never received an award of this caliber.
“This is a first,” Matthews said. “[The national distinction represents] significant recognition for MTI’s leadership. MTI hasn’t slowed its effort in the movement.”

Madison teachers union files lawsuit challenging constitutionality of collective bargaining law

Ed Treleven:

Unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee sanitation workers sued Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday, alleging that the controversial law severely restricting the collective bargaining rights of most public workers in Wisconsin is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and AFL-CIO Local 61 in Milwaukee alleges that the state legislature passed what was originally called the budget repair bill in violation of the state constitution’s provision that governs special legislative sessions.
The lawsuit also alleges that the law places severe and unfair restrictions on what unions and their members can discuss with municipalities and school districts, and imposes severe wage increase limits that don’t apply to nonunion workers.

Letters to the WiSJ on Madison Teachers’ John Matthews

Merle Lebakken:

Following the exploits of Madison Teachers Inc. leader John Matthews in the State Journal makes it obvious that he is a negotiator extraordinaire.
He’s managed to have his people on one side of the “negotiating table” and at least some he helped elect on the other side, so it is not a “bargaining table” but a “collaboration table.”
Maybe, however, he has gone too far in not enthusiastically promoting measuring teacher performance, as encouraged by President Barack Obama. Now it seems Wisconsin’s taxpayers need to take back some of the functions, like measuring employee performance, usually ascribed to management but, through negotiation, given to the employee.

Thomas Kavanagh:

I appreciated the respect for John Matthews’ achievements conveyed by Madison labor mediator Howard Bellman’s comment in Sunday’s article, and his concern about the possible effect of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to destroy the Madison teachers union and public employee unions throughout Wisconsin:
“It would be like somebody watching all their paintings burn up… What he’s accomplished over the years would have been just a memory.”
However, that analogy fails to give consideration to the value of his work beyond creating a robust and effective union. For the artist, the joy of the creation might be lasting, but the product of his efforts would be gone. That would not be the case for what Matthew’s efforts have produced.

Bob Hartwig

fter encouraging Madison teachers in February to stage an illegal sick-out, which robbed children of educational opportunities and caused disruption for many parents, he now says teachers are “ready to do whatever it takes” to continue the protest of state budget reductions. He was also quoted as saying; “It’s going to get down and dirty.”
Wow! This kind of rhetoric coming from a 71-year-old man who receives about $310,000 in annual income and benefits from union fees. Makes you ask the question: What is his priority?

Madison Teachers, Inc. head: Time to get ‘down and dirty’

Matthew DeFour:

“They’re ready,” Matthews said afterward, “to do whatever it takes.”
After 43 years as executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., Matthews is in the spotlight again after encouraging a four-day sick-out that closed school in February. The action allowed teachers to attend protests at the Capitol over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curb collective bargaining by public employees. The matter remains in the courts, but it prompted a hasty contract negotiation between the district and union.
Teachers aren’t happy about some of the changes, and Matthews is preparing for a street fight.
“It’s going to get down and dirty,” Matthews said, alluding to the possibility of more job actions, such as “working the contract” – meaning teachers wouldn’t work outside required hours – if the School Board doesn’t back off changes in the contract. “You can’t continually put people down and do things to control them and hurt them and not have them react.”
Moreover, the latest battle over collective bargaining has taken on more personal significance for Matthews, whose life’s work has been negotiating contracts.

Much more on John Matthews, here. Madison Teachers, Inc. website and Twitter feed.

Madison Teachers lobby School Board to keep planning time

Matthew DeFour:

Hundreds of teachers packed the Madison School Board meeting Monday night to protest changes in their contract next year related to planning time for elementary school teachers.
Some speakers reminded the board that elementary school planning time was a key issue in the 1976 teachers strike that closed school for two weeks. Tension among teachers is already heightened because of state initiatives to curtail collective bargaining and reduce education funding.
“Compensation has been reduced, morale is low, stress is high,” Lowell Elementary teacher Bob Arnold said. “Respect and support us by preserving our already inadequate planning time.”

School board member Ed Hughes wants to give some docked pay back to Madison teachers (Proposal Withdrawn Later in the Day)

Matthew DeFour:

Hughes is making the proposal [56K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment] as an amendment to the district’s budget.
Funding would come from the $1.3 million windfall the district will get from docking the pay of 1,769 teachers who were absent without an excuse on one or more days between Feb. 16-18 and 21.
The district closed school during those four days because of the high number of staff members who called in sick to attend protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed changes to public sector collective bargaining.
“Under the circumstances it seemed to me the school district shouldn’t necessarily profit from that, because the teachers agreed to make up the time in a way that took away planning time for them,” said Hughes, who is considering a run for school board president when new officers are elected Monday.
Hughes is also proposing increasing the district’s proposed property tax levy for next year by about $2 million to pay for maintenance and technology projects and any costs associated with the district’s implementation of a state-imposed talented-and-gifted education plan.
“It seems goofy that we give away $1 million and then raise property taxes [50K PDF Ed Hughes Amendment],” board member Lucy Mathiak said.

Jay Sorgi:

If a school board member in Madison gets his way, the district would used money it saved when teachers forced schools to shut down during the budget debate to award end of the year bonuses to teachers.
WTMJ partner station WIBA Radio in Madison says that teachers in Madison would receive $200 gift cards as year-end bonuses.
“Whenever we can, we need to show some kind of tangible appreciation for the extremely hard work our teachers and staff do,” said Ed Hughes, a member of the Madison school board.
“They’ve had a particularly tough year as you know, given that they kind of became political footballs in the legislature. We’re ending up slashing their take home pay by a substantial amount, pretty much because we have to.”

Additional links:

Related: 5/26/2005 MTI & The Madison School Board by Ed Hughes.

What’s Bugging Madison Teachers, Inc. Executive Director John Matthews?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

In an article about teacher retirements in the State Journal a couple of weeks ago, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews had some harsh comments about the Madison school district and school board. Referring to the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program, or TERP, Matthews said, “The evidence of the ill will of the board of education and superintendent speaks for itself as to why we have grave concern over the benefit continuing. . . . They tore things from the MTI contract, which they and their predecessors had agreed for years were in the best interest of the district and its employees.”
In an article in Isthmus last week, Lynn Welch followed up with Matthews. Matthews comes out swinging against the school district in this article as well, asserting, “The bargaining didn’t have to [involve] so much animosity. . . . If they wanted to make revisions, all they had to do is talk with us and we could have worked through something that would be acceptable to both sides. But they didn’t bother to talk about it. You don’t buy good will this way.” While the contract includes very significant economic concessions on the part of the teachers, Matthews expressed unhappiness with the non-economic changes as well, labeling them “inhumane.”
In the Isthmus article, Matthews asserts that the changes in the collective bargaining agreement “show how Walker’s proposed legislation (still tied up in court) has already produced an imbalance of power forcing unions to make concessions they don’t want to achieve a contract deal.”
………
The collective bargaining process is useful because it provides an established framework for hammering out issues of mutual concern between the school district and its employees and for conflict resolution. However, if the collective bargaining agreement were to disappear, the school district wouldn’t immediately resort to a management equivalent of pillaging the countryside. Instead, the district would seek out alternative ways of achieving the ends currently served by the collective bargaining process, because the district, like nearly all employers, values its employees and understands the benefits of being perceived as a good place to work.
But when employers aren’t interested in running sweat-shops, organizations set up to prevent sweat-shop conditions aren’t all that necessary. It may be that John Matthews’ ramped-up rhetoric is best understood not as a protest against school district over-reaching in bargaining, since that did not happen, but as a cry against the possibility of his own impending irrelevance.

Two-thirds of Madison teachers joined protests, district says

Matthew DeFour:

Two-thirds of Madison teachers participated in at least one day of a coordinated four-day absence in February to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curb collective bargaining, according to information released by the school district Friday.
According to the district, 1,769 out of 2,655 teachers took time off during the four days without a legitimate excuse. The records also show 84 teachers submitted fraudulent sick notes; 38 received suspensions for failing to rescind the notes by April 15, a deadline set by the district.
The exact number of teachers who caused school to shut down on Feb. 16-18 and 21 was unknown until now. The numbers “validate our decision to close our schools,” Superintendent Dan Nerad said in a statement.
“We realize the challenges that our students’ families experienced as a result of these school closings,” Nerad said. “So we appreciate that we have been able to return since then to normal school schedules and that students have returned to advancing their learning through the work of our excellent staff members.”
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews acknowledged Feb. 15 that the union was encouraging members to call in sick to attend protests at the Capitol. It was the union’s first coordinated work stoppage since 1,900 out of 2,300 teachers called in sick to protest contract negotiations in September 1997.
On Friday, Matthews emphasized that teachers accepted the consequences of their actions by agreeing to docked pay for the days missed. He called the suspension letters “a badge of honor for standing up for workplace justice.”

Madison Teachers’ Union Gets Death Threat

Matthew Rothschild:

Republican legislators in Wisconsin aren’t the only ones getting violent threats. On Thursday, Katherine Windels pleaded not guilty to making death threats to Republican state lawmakers. Her crazed threats have gotten a lot of media attention.
But what hasn’t gotten attention is the ugliness directed against labor.
“We’ve gotten a lot of threats,” says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc (MTI).
MTI received a death threat on April 15.
“You’re all going to die. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you,” said a man’s voice calling from the (252) area code, which MTI saw on caller ID. That area code is in North Carolina.

The New Madison Teachers, Inc. Pact will be Devastating for Support Staff

Fran Zell:

Early on in the protests at the Capitol, I ran into a friend who predicted that the unions would agree to all of Walker’s benefit cuts if he agreed to allow collective bargaining.
“They would do that?” I asked innocently. “They wouldn’t tell the governor to rescind tax cuts on businesses before he attempts to balance the budget on the backs of workers?”
“Just wait,” she said.
Little did either of us imagine that the unions would soon concede to all of the benefit cuts BEFORE Walker agreed to talk. When you give up key issues before the other side is at the table, there isn’t much left to negotiate. It is certainly not the way we educators teach children to deal with a bully.
However things turn out with Walker’s damaging repair bill, Wisconsin unions have helped dig themselves into a hole. Some unions may fare better than others. I am distraught about Madison Teachers Inc., which I belong to as a substitute teacher. In its rush to negotiate with the district immediately after Walker signed the bill, MTI plunged headlong into the very waters it was trying to avoid. The union allowed the lowest paid to, in effect, sail away in a leaky lifeboat.

Blaska Blogs the smoking gun of the Madison teachers union’s illegal sick-out

David Blaska:

Only a fool would think that the sick out that closed down Madison schools for five days in February was anything but an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike.
But there are a lot of fools in Madison, aren’t there?
Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action — a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union’s own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):
It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.
The problem, of course, is finding an impartial prosecutor — but that would require a level of professionalism sorely lacking in the Doyle-appointed incumbent.

MISSED ADJUSTMENTS and OPPORTUNITIES RATIFICATION OF Madison School District/Madison Teachers Collective Bargaining Agreement 2011-2013

The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education and the Madison Teachers, Inc. ratified an expedited Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2011-2013. Several significant considerations were ignored for the negative impact and consequences on students, staff and taxpayers.
First and foremost, there was NO ‘urgent’ need (nor ANY need at all) to ‘negotiate’ a new contract. The current contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2011. Given the proposals regarding school finance and collective bargaining processes in the Budget Repair Bill before the legislature there were significant opportunities and expectations for educational, management and labor reforms. With such changes imminent, there was little value in ‘locking in’ the restrictive old provisions for conducting operations and relationships and shutting the door on different opportunities for increasing educational improvements and performances in the teaching and learning culture and costs of educating the students of the district.
A partial listing of the missed adjustments and opportunities with the ratification of the teacher collective bargaining agreement should be instructive.

  • Keeping the ‘step and advancement’ salary schedule locks in automatic salary increases; thereby establishing a new basis annually for salary adjustments. The schedule awards increases solely on tenure and educational attainment. This also significantly inhibits movement for development and implementation of ‘pay for performance’ and merit.
  • Continues the MOU agreement requiring 50% of teachers in 4-K programs (public and private sites combined) to be state certified and union members
  • Continues required union membership. There are 2700 total or 2400 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers, numbers rounded. Full-time teachers pay $1100.00 (pro-rated for part-time) per year in automatic union dues deducted from paychecks and processed by the District. With 2400 FTE multiplied by $1100 equals $2,640,000 per year multiplied by two years of the collective bargaining unit equals $5,280,000 to be paid by teachers to their union (Madison Teachers Inc., for its union activities). These figures do not include staff members in the clerical and teacher assistant bargaining units who also pay union dues, but at a lower rate.
  • Continues to limit and delay processes for eliminating non-performing teachers Inhibits abilities of the District to determine the length and configuration of the school day, length and configuration of the school year calendar including professional development, breaks and summer school
  • Inhibits movement and placement of teachers where needed and best suited
  • Restricts adjustments to class sizes and teacher-pupil ratios
  • Continues very costly grievance options and procedures and litigation
  • Inhibits the District from developing attendance area level teacher/administrator councils for collaboration in problem-solving, built on trust and relationships in a non-confrontational environment
  • Continues costly extra-duties and extra-curricular agreements and processes
  • Restricts flexibility for teacher input and participation in professional development, curriculum selection and development and performance evaluation at the building level
  • Continues Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP), costing upwards to $3M per year
  • Does not require teacher sharing in costs of health insurance premiums
  • Did not immediately eliminate extremely expensive Preferred Provider (WPS) health insurance plan
  • Did not significantly address health insurance reforms
  • Does not allow for reviews and possible reforms of Sick Leave and Disability Leave policies
  • Continues to be the basis for establishing “me too” contract agreements with administrators for salaries and benefits. This has impacts on CBAs with other employee units, i.e., support staff, custodians, food service employees, etc.
  • Continues inflexibilities for moving staff and resources based on changes and interpretations of state and federal program supported mandates
  • Inhibits educational reforms related to reading and math and other core courses, as well as reforms in the high schools and alternative programs

Each and every one of the above items has a financial cost associated with it. These are the so-called ‘hidden costs’ of the collective bargaining process that contribute to the over-all costs of the District and to restrictions for undertaking reforms in the educational system and the District. These costs could have been eliminated, reduced, minimized and/ or re-allocated in order to support reforms and higher priorities with more direct impact on academic achievement and staff performance.
For further information and discussion contact:
Don Severson President
Active Citizens for Education
donleader@aol.com
608 577-0851
100k PDF version

Madison teachers given until April 15 to rescind fake doctors’ notes

Matthew DeFour:

Madison teachers who missed school last month to attend protests and turned in fraudulent doctor’s notes have been given until April 15 to rescind those notes, officials said Thursday.
The district received more than 1,000 notes from teachers, human resources director Bob Nadler said. A couple hundred of those were ruled fraudulent because they appeared to be written by doctors at the Capitol protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to limit collective bargaining.
Teachers who don’t rescind fraudulent notes could receive a disciplinary letter of suspension, the most serious form of discipline aside from termination, Nadler said. The suspension would be considered already served — the time missed during the protests.
“We didn’t want to give anybody more time off,” Nadler said. “They can’t afford it. We can’t afford to have them gone any more. I don’t think kids need their teacher gone another two days.”

Madison Teachers, Inc. 2011 Candidate Questionnaire

1MB PDF, via a kind reader’s email:. Mayoral Candidate Paul Soglin participated and I found this question and response interesting:


What strategies will you introduce to reduce the 6000+ families who move in and out of Madison Public School classrooms each year?
In the last three years more children opted out of the district than all previous years in the history of the district. That contributed to the increase of children from households below the poverty line rising to over 48% of the kids enrolled.
To stabilize our enrollment we need stable families and stable neighborhoods. This will require a collaborate effort between governments, like the city, the county and the school district, as well as the private sector and the non-profits. It means opening Madison’s economy to all families, providing stable housing, and building on the assets of our neighborhoods.
One decades old problem is the significant poverty in the Town of Madison. I would work with town officials, and city of Fitchburg officials to see if we could accelerate the annexation of the town so we could provide better services to area residents.

Ed Hughes and Marj Passman, both running unopposed responded to MTI’s questions via this pdf document.

MTIVOTERS 2011 School Board Election Questionnaire
Please respond to each ofthe following questions. If you wish to add/clarifY your response, please attach a separate sheet and designate your responses with the same number which appears in the questionnaire. Please deliver your responses to MTI Headquarters (821 Williamson Street) by, February 17, 2011.
General:
If the School Board finds it necessary to change school boundaries due to enrollment, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
Ifthe School Board finds it necessary to close a school/schools due to economic reasons, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
If the School Board finds it necessary, due to the State-imposed revenue controls, to make further budget cuts to the 2011-12 budget, what criteria would you, as a Board member, use to make such a judgement?
IdentifY specific MMSD programs and/or policies which you believe should to be modified, re-prioritized, or eliminated, and explain why.
What should the District do to reduce violence/assure that proper discipline and safety (of the learning and working environment) is maintained in our schools?
Do you agree that the health insurance provided to District employees should be mutually selected through collective bargaining?
_ _ YES _ _ NO Explain your concerns/proposed solutions relative to the District’s efforts to reduce the “achievement gap”.
Should planning time for teachers be increased? If yes, how could this be accomplished?
Given that the Wisconsin Association of School Boards rarely supports the interests of the Madison Metropolitan School District, do you support the District withdrawing from the W ASB? Please explain your rationale.
From what sources do you believe that public schools should be funded?
a. Do you support further increasing student fees? _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you support the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools’ (WAES) initiative to raise sales tax by 1% to help fund schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support class sizes of 15 or less for all primary grades? _ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support:
a. The use of public funds (vouchers) to enable parents to pay tuition with tax payers’ money for religious and private schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
b. The expansion of Charter schools within the Madison Metropolitan School District? _ _ YES _ _ NO
c. The Urban League’s proposed “Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men” as a charter school which would not be an instrumentality of the District?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you agree that the usual and customary work ofteachers, i.e. work ofthose in MTI’s teacher bargaining unit, should not be performed by others (sub-contracted)?
_ _ YES _ _ NO List MMSD staff and Board member(s) from whom you do or would seek advice.
Is your candidacy being promoted by any organization? _ _ YES _ _ NO
If yes, please name such organization(s). Have you ever been employed as a teacher? If yes, please describe why you left the teaching profession.
Do you support the inclusion model for including Title 1, EEN and ESL students in the regular education classroom? Why/why not?
What grouping practices do you advocate for talented and gifted (TAG) students?
Aside from limitations from lack ofadequate financial resources, what problems to you feel exist in meeting TAG students’ needs at present, and how would you propose to solve these problems?
The Board ofEducation has moved from the development ofpolicy to becoming involved in implementation of policy; i.e. matters usually reserved to administration. Some examples are when it:
a. Decided to hear parents’ complaints about a teacher’s tests and grading. b. Decided to modifY the administration’s decision about how a State Statute should be implemented.
Do you believe that the Board should delegate to administrators the implementation of policy which the Board has created?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you believe that the Board should delegate to administrators the implementation of State Statutes? _ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support the Board exploring further means to make their meetings more efficient? _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Do you support a merit pay scheme being added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement _ _ YES _ _ _ NO
If yes, based on which performance indicators?
Do/did/will your children attend private or parochial schools during their K-12 years? Ifno, and ifyou have children, what schools have/will they attend(ed)?
_ _ YES _ _ NO If you responded “yes”, please explain why your child/children attended private parochial schools.
Legislation
Will you introduce and vote for a motion which would direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation to eliminate the revenue controls on public schools and return full budgeting authority to the School Board?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation to prohibit the privatization ofpublic schools via the use oftuition tax credits (vouchers) to pay tuition with taxpayers’ money to private or religious schools?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will maintain or expand the benefit level of the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act?
_ _ YES _ _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage oflegislation which will increase the retirement formula multiplier from 1.6% to 2% for teachers and general employees, i.e. equal that of protective employees?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will forbid restrictions to free and open collective bargaining for the selection ofinsurance for public employees (under Wis. Stat. 111.70), including the naming ofthe insurance carrier?
_ _ YES
_ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation which will guarantee free and open collective bargaining regarding the establishment of the school calendar/school year, including when the school year begins?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsiu Association of School Boards to request the introduction and promote the passage of legislation to forbid the work of employees organized under Wis. Stat. 111.70 (collective bargaining statute) to be subcontracted?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to seek passage of legislation which will require full State funding of any State-mandated program?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Will you introduce and vote for a motion to direct the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to seek passage oflegislation which will provide adequate State funding of public education?
_ _ YES _ _ NO
Do you support a specific school finance reform plan (e.g., School Finance Network (SFN), Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), Andrews/Matthews Plan)?
Why/why not? Your Campaign:
Are you, or any of your campaign committee members, active in or supportive (past or present) of the “Get Real”, “ACE”, “Vote No for Change” or similar organizations?
Name ofCampaign Committee/Address/Phone #/Treasurer. List the members ofyour campaign committee.

Madison Teachers’ Harlem trip’s aim is to aid ‘culturally relevant’ teaching

Susan Troller:

Lanyon, Grams, and fellow Hawthorne teachers Julie Olsen and Abby Miller received a grant from the national nonprofit Fund for Teachers that allowed them to travel to Harlem to learn about the art, music, poetry, literary history and drama of this hub of African-American life. They all agree that they now have a new appreciation for the richness of black culture and its profound impact on American life and culture as a whole.
For these four, plus a dozen more local educators whose travel was covered by a couple of additional grants, the experience was part of a wider effort to help them better teach in what’s known as a culturally relevant way.
Culturally relevant practice” is a relatively new movement in education that recognizes that learning, for all of us, is related to our cultural background and what we know from our daily living. Research shows that effectively bridging the gaps between a teacher’s background and student’s experience can improve academic performance.
Andreal Davis is one of two district administrators in charge of helping to create culturally relevant practices in local classrooms. A former elementary school teacher at Lincoln, Davis, who is black, now helps colleagues recognize that different groups of children bring their different backgrounds, expectations and even communication styles to the classroom.
She says teachers sometimes need help learning to translate different ways their students learn, or what kind of interactions make sense to different groups of children.
“Communication styles for all of us can vary a great deal. It can be like the difference between listening to conventional music, or listening to jazz, where the narrative doesn’t just go in a straight line,” she explains. “If that flow is what you’re used to, it’s what you know how to follow in a conversation, or in a class.”
Given Hawthorne’s demographics — 70 percent of the students are poor, with a diverse population that includes 18 percent Hispanic, 20 percent Asian, 32 percent black and 28 percent white — the school has respectable, rising test scores.

People who saw the recent Madison screening of The Lottery saw another part of the Harlem world: the battle between the traditional public school system and charters, specifically the Harlem Success Academy.

Madison Teachers, staff trying the ‘Wright way’

Doug Erickson & Gayle Worland:

Founded in 1993 as Madison Middle School 2000, the school alleviated crowding in the West High School attendance area and served as a hopeful sign to the ethnically diverse South Side, which lacked a middle school. The school moved to its building at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road (Panoramic view) in 1997 and was renamed for the late Rev. James C. Wright, a prominent local black pastor and civil rights leader.
The school’s early years were marred by lax discipline, high staff turnover, the resignation of the original principal and clashes among parents and teachers over governance. Stability arrived in 1998 with Ed Holmes, whose six-year tenure as principal earned praise from many parents and students.
“I would characterize (Wright) as one of the district’s grand experiments,” said Holmes, now West High principal.
As a charter school, students choose it; no one is assigned there. Enrollment is capped at 255, and classes rarely exceed 20 students. The school’s mission stresses civic engagement, social action and multicultural pride.

Related: Wright economically disadvantaged WKCE test scores compared to other Madison middle schools. Notes and links on President Obama’s recent visit to Madison’s Wright Middle School.

Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will “Review the content and frequency of report cards”

via a kind reader’s email (200K PDF):

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Inc. reached a tentative agreement Tuesday evening on the terms and conditions of a new two-year Collective Bargaining Agreement for MTI’s 2,600 member teacher bargaining unit. Negotiations began April 15.
The Contract, for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, needs ratification from both the Board of Education and MTI. The Union will hold its ratification meeting on Wednesday, October 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Forum. The Board of Education will tentatively take up the proposal in a special meeting on October 19 at 5:00 p.m.
Terms of the Contract include:
2009-2010 2010-11
Base Salary Raise – 1.00% Base Salary Raise – 1.00%
Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.93% Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.99%
Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,242 Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,575
A key part of this bargain involved working with the providers of long term disability insurance and health insurance. Meetings between MTI Executive Director John Matthews and District Superintendent Dan Nerad and representatives of WPS and GHC, the insurance carriers agreed to a rate increase for the second year of the Contract not to exceed that of the first year. In return, the District and MTI agreed to add to the plans a voluntary health risk assessment for teachers. The long term disability insurance provider reduced its rates by nearly 25%. The insurance cost reductions over the two years of the contract term amount to roughly $1.88 million, were then applied to increase wages, thus reducing new funds to accomplish this.
The new salary schedule increase at 1% per cell, inclusive of Social Security and WRS, amount to roughly $3.04 million. Roughly 62% of the salary increase, including Social Security and WRS, was made possible by the referenced insurance savings.
Key contract provisions include:

    Inclusion in the Contract of criteria to enable salary schedule progression by one working toward the newly created State teacher licensure, PI 34. Under the new Contract provision, one can earn professional advancement credits for work required by PI 34.

  • Additive pay regarding National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, i.e. an alternative for bargaining unit professionals who are not teachers (nurses, social workers, psychologists, et al) by achieving the newly created Master Educator’s License.
  • Continuance of the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP).
  • The ability after retirement for one to use their Retirement Insurance Account for insurance plans other than those specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This will enable one to purchase coverage specific to a geographic area, if they so choose, or they may continue coverage with GHC or WPS – the current health insurance providers.
    For elementary teachers, the frequency and duration of meetings has been clarified, as have several issues involving planning time. All elementary teachers and all elementary principals will receive a joint letter from Matthews and Nerad explaining these Contract provisions.

  • For high school teachers who volunteer for building supervision, there is now an option to enable one to receive compensation, rather than compensatory time for the service. And there is a definition of what “class period” is for determining compensation or compensatory time.
  • For elementary and middle school teachers, MTI and the District will appoint a joint committee for each to study and recommend the content and frequency of report cards.
    For elementary specials (e.g. art, music) teachers, the parties agreed to end the class and a half, which will mean that class sizes for specials will be similar to the class size for elementary classroom teachers.

  • For coaches, and all others compensated on the extra duty compensation schedule, the additive percentage paid, which was frozen due to the State imposed revenue controls, will be restored.
  • School year calendars were agreed to through 2012-2013.
  • Also, MTI and the District agreed to a definite five-year exemption to the Contract work assignment clause to enable the District to assist with funding of a community-based 4-year-old kindergarten programs, provided the number of said 4-K teachers is no greater than the number of District employed 4-K teachers, and provided such does not cause bargaining unit members to be affected by adverse actions such as lay off, surplus and reduction of hours/contract percentage, due to the District’s establishment of, and continuance of, community based [Model III] 4-K programs. (See note below.)

2009 Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Questionnaire

1.2MB PDF File. This document includes responses from Madison School Board seat 1 candidates Arlene Silveira and Donald Gors, Seat 2 candidate Lucy Mathiak and a number of other local and statewide candidates for office in the upcoming April, 2009 election. Via a kind reader’s email.

Madison Schools & Madison Teachers Union Settle Online Class Administration & Athletic Director Conflict

Wisconsin State Journal:

At a joint news conference at MTI headquarters, Madison schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad and MTI Executive Director John Matthews said the settlement resolves issues that have festered for up to eight years.
Among other things, the agreement reinstates Boyce Hodge, the longtime West High School athletic director, to that position and as coach of the boys basketball team for the current school year. The district’s other three major high schools also will have full-time athletic directors.
The district and the union also have quarreled over the role of MTI members in online learning for seven years. Under the new agreement, any instruction of district students will be supervised by Madison teachers. The deal doesn’t change existing practice but confirms that that practice will continue.

Tamira Madsen:

Matthews said he was pleased with the negotiations and agreements, and added that he’s enjoyed working with Nerad.
“I think probably the over-reaching issue that this resolution provides is an improved problem-solving relationship between the union and the school district that’s possible now with the coming of Dan Nerad as the superintendent in Madison,” Matthews said.

Fascinating and an interesting look at new Superintendent Dan Nerad’s approach.
Related: Madison Teachers June, 2008 Athletic Director Issue Press Release 12K PDF and Arbitrators award 222KB PDF.

Madison Teachers Protest Larger Class Size

Channel3000:

Many of Madison’s elementary school teachers spoke out to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education on Monday night.
Carrying brightly colored signs, the group protested the increased class size for gym, arts and computer classes. The larger related arts classes are known by some as “one and one-half classes,” WISC-TV reported.
District officials started the policy at the elementary level this year to save money.
Some teachers said their students, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds, are getting short-changed.
“I teach in a school with 46 percent or more kids on free or reduced lunch,” said Rhonda Schilling, a music teacher for Thoreau and Hamilton elementary schools. “Many of the kids come from really rough backgrounds, and those are the kids in particular that shine often in the arts. They need that contact time with their teacher.”

Not adding up: Madison’s diverse student body is not matched by its teachers

Amber Walker: MMSD also implemented new interviewing practices that assess not only a potential teacher’s knowledge in her content area, but her culturally responsive practices, including setting high and clear expectations for all students, acknowledging all students and connecting to students’ lives and cultural identity. Hargrove-Krieghoff said the new competency and performance measures were a […]

Washington Legislature OKs new budget with rare tuition cuts and pay raises for teachers; Seattle spends $14,716 per student, less than Madison

Joseph O’Sullivan & Katherine Long. The budget gives a 3 percent cost-of-living raise to K-12 employees over the next two years, plus an additional temporary 1.8 percent increase that expires in 2017. It proposes a slight increase in health-care benefits for K-12 employees, but not enough, the Washington Education Association said, to keep up with […]

Madison school officials, MTI say claims regarding union dues, teachers’ rights don’t belong in Act 10 lawsuit

Pat Schneider: The conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has brought suit against Madison’s public schools through a plaintiff who does not have standing to bring the “scandalous” allegations of violations of teachers’ rights included in its complaint, school district officials claim in a court filing. Plaintiff David Blaska, a conservative blogger, […]

Madison School District proposes using screening test to predict teachers’ impact on student success

Molly Beck: The Madison School Board is considering spending $273,000 on a screening program its creators say can better predict whether prospective teachers will improve student achievement. The proposed three-year contract with Chicago-based TeacherMatch would provide the district with a system to track and recruit applicants, ask teacher candidates a timed series of questions and […]

Consultant: Madison schools should use its mission to recruit minority teachers

Pat Schneider:

The Madison Metropolitan School District has an image problem with teachers of color, says a consultant who recommends using the district’s mission of creating an environment where all students thrive to recruit a more diverse workforce.
The number of minority teachers in the district, while growing, is not keeping pace with the growing proportion of minority students, consultant Monica Rosen told Madison School Board members Monday.
“You’ll never catch up at the rate you’re going. I think there needs to be something more aggressive,” said Rosen, a partner in the national firm Cross & Joftus.
The gap between the number of students of color and the number of teachers of color has been brought into sharp focus as the school district works to close a persistent academic achievement gap between students of color and their white classmates.
A leader in the African-American community in November filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, charging that the district was discriminating against people of color in its hiring.
And nearly all the school district personnel interviewed as part of Cross & Joftus’ review mentioned their own concerns about the lack of diversity among school district staff, Rosen reported.

Madison Superintendent: Teachers Must Get on Board with Tech Plan

Pat Schneider:

“When a teacher tells me they want to opt out of using technology because of their lack of comfort, it means students are not getting access to tools that have become an essential part of life, certainly of work life,” Cheatham told school board members Monday. “I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s okay. We need to demand that all students have access to technology they will be expected to use when they go on to college and career.”
Cheatham’s remarks came at the end of a meeting where school board members heard an outline of her district technology plan, which calls for a one-to-one ratio of devices to students and teachers by the 2018-2019 school year.
“It’s scary. We’re asking people to think differently about the profession,” Cheatham said, recalling resistance to the daily use of email by some teachers when that technology emerged. “But an adult’s comfort level shouldn’t be something that stops us from doing the right thing for kids.”

It may well be time to simply let teachers buy their own equipment via a stipend.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.