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Teachers' union calls for extending 'no realignment' compact

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Teachers' union calls for extension of 'no realignment' compact

Posted by: "Robert Panning-Miller"
Date: Tue Dec 5, 2006 12:56 am ((PST))

I know many people think that limiting the seniority rights of teachers would somehow help Minneapolis schools and students. While research does not support this, the district is clearly interested in finding ways to limit this in the upcoming contract negotiations. Ironically, it is currently taking a position that runs counter to this goal

Last year, the district and the union signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that put a one year moratorium on realignment. MFT 59 is willing to renew this MOA right now. The district has recently informed us that they are not interested in resigning the MOA. Their rationale seems appropriate on the surface (creating stability in schools with "high need" students), but things will not play out the way they intend. If you remember, students, parents, and teachers were very upset in the years before the MOA, because teachers were being moved all around, into areas they had not taught for years. It is ironic that the district is looking to weaken seniority rights on the one hand, and at the same time saying no to an MOA that does just that. Yes, realignment most strictly adheres to the concept of "last hired, first fired."

The teachers' union wants to avoid the instability created by realignment. We are advising teachers who carry more than one license to "surrender" additional licenses to avoid being realigned. The district actions will only force teachers who worked hard to earn additional licenses to drop them. It will also move senior teachers out of the classrooms they have been in for years, upsetting currently stable schools.

Either the district truly believes it can achieve its goal of stability, in which case it is sadly wrong, or it is positioning itself for contract negotiations at the expense of stability. Either way, this is misguided. We have until winter break to sign the MOA. After that, teachers will begin to surrender their additional licenses, and we would not want to sign an MOA at that point. I encourage those of you who are truly interested in district stability to rethink their position on the realignment MOA.

Below is my letter to the current board members:

District Leadership,

I was told that the district was not interested in renewing the MOA, which put a one year moratorium on realignment. This past year the MOA prevented the chaos that struck the district a few years ago. The realignment upset teachers, students and parents. While many people inaccurately blame the union for the problems, it must be clear that the district bears all responsibility for any chaos created by this decision.

I understand and can appreciate some of the rationale behind this decision. We all want stable schools, but the district's approach will not achieve this goal. The only real result will be that teachers who worked hard to gain multiple licenses will be forced to drop one or more of them.

The MOA brought some stability to the district this year. Not renewing the MOA will be yet one more act of disrespect to Minneapolis teachers, and it will anger the families affected by realignment.

I strongly encourage you to immediately reconsider this position before winter break. At that point teachers will have started to surrender their additional licenses. If you are serious about stability in the district and respecting the efforts of Minneapolis teachers, you will agree to renew the MOA. I encourage those of you who are truly interested in district stability to encourage the current school board to rethink their position on the realignment MOA.

I look forward to your reply.

Robert Panning-Miller
President, MFT 59

Re: Minneapolis public schools, board candidates, & the 2006 election