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Doug Mann LPN, LNC

Sharon Henry Blythes' comments














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Sharon Henry-Blythe raises the issue of high teacher-turnover and instability in programs serving the majority of the districts students.
















 Minneapolis teacher contract approved
by Steve Brandt, Star Tribune

"A new Minneapolis teacher contract won approval from both sides Tuesday, but school board member Sharon Henry-Blythe derided the deal for not doing more to alleviate the impact of seniority on low-performing schools..."

"I'm really, really, really saddened, and somewhat frustrated, that the one place where we had an opportunity to achieve some equity, we missed the mark," Henry-Blythe told the board. It approved the deal 7-0, while the district said teachers gave it 84 percent approval...

Full text at:
http://www.startribune.com/1592/story/217796.html

I was happy to see Sharon Henry-Blythe raise the issue
of high-turnover and instability in programs serving the
majority of the districts students. However, I disagree
that the teacher contract negotiations are the one place
where the district could achieve a greater degree of
equity in the distribution of teachers and the stability of
staffing. And the window of opportunity to change that
situation doesn't have to be closed for at least for the next
year-and-a-half or two.

It is my contention that the district is in violation of the MN
Desegregation Rule because of differences in the quality
of educational inputs between schools that are
"racially identifiable" and schools that are not racially
identifiable. If the contract, as written, is an obstacle to
compliance with the Desegregation Rule, the contract is illegal
and should be reopened for negotiation on relevant
contract clauses. (Incidentally, I do not support
the board's position that seniority and tenure rights
are the problem)

And I have a very simple plan for retaining teachers and
slowing turnover on a districtwide basis that doesn't
require approval from the teachers union: Stop laying off
teachers in the spring who are going to be recalled or
replaced before the first day of school in the fall.

The Board isn't in favor of the above plan because the district saves at
least several tens of millions of dollars each year on teacher payroll
costs with their revolving door for low seniority teachers. The hourly
pay rate of a newly hired teacher is not much more than half of
what a teacher employed for 10 years is getting. However, I suspect
that a large part of the money saved with the revolving door is
being spent on damage control related to the adverse effects
of the same revolving door (and management pay raises).

Here's the plan to equalize teacher turnover rates which I advocate:
Modify the teacher assignment system in such a way as to reserve
a roughly equal proportion of teaching jobs for new, inexperienced
teachers in all schools / programs. If the board and the union agreed
to such an arrangement, in principle, the details wouldn't be too hard
to work out. Such a plan to equalize teacher turnover rates could also
help to improve teacher retention by enhancing the stability and strength
of all programs.

I believe there are other steps that could be taken to motivate
teachers to voluntarily stick with or bid into all of the currently
poor performing schools. I am sure that the district's teachers
are the best to ask for suggestions as to what would entice them.
And most of the poor performing schools are supposed to be
getting the lion's share of the title 1 money. The money should
follow the kids, right? So these schools should have money to
spend on things like smaller class sizes, more TAs, better ESL
programming, etc.
















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