Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cautious Optimism in Cleveland

Progress was made yesterday on the Cleveland Plan, as Mayor Frank Jackson agreed to the Cleveland Teachers Union's proposal to base layoffs first on teacher evaluations, then on tenure and seniority.

While a big step, major hurdles remain on the following issues, according to the Plain Dealer account:
The two sides remain far apart, however, on Jackson's push to wipe out all previous contracts and start fresh with new contract negotiations. The union also disagrees with Jackson's proposal to give district Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon broad powers to lay off or fire teachers to remake any failing school.

Union President David Quolke likened those items to Senate Bill 5, the controversial state law that limited collective bargaining but was repealed sharply by voters in November. Quolke objected to Jackson seeking to have the disputed provisions introduced in the legislature this week, instead of trying to resolve them with the union first.

"The legislation should not be introduced with these two Senate Bill 5 pieces," he said. "We do not believe if we're having productive dialogue that we should jump to legislation." 
Again, as I've said before, why the Mayor and other Cleveland Plan supporters put anything remotely resembling SB 5 into their plan a few months after SB 5 was defeated by more than 20 points at the polls, I will never understand. It seems politically tone deaf to me.

Regardless, it was a good sign that the Mayor was willing to listen to the teachers about their significant movement on the layoff provision. While tenure and seniority will still play a roll, the teachers' compromise effectively eliminates tenure and seniority. That's because those two provisions will only come into play if teachers' evaluations are the same. Evalutions will determine all but a few layoffs, for the likelihood of two teachers' evaluations being exactly the same seems remote to me.

It is impossible to overstate how significant a concession this is for Cleveland's teachers.

The Plain Dealer story did not mention other concerns with the plan, like giving local revenue to Charter Schools, but if yesterday's agreement is any indication, it looks like Mayor Jackson and the Cleveland teachers are working together toward a better day for Cleveland's kids.

And that is a good thing.

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