Negotiations Update

The negotiators for the Board and TAAAC met for the third time yesterday (11/15) for what was the first real substantive discussion. The first two meetings resulted in not much that merited reporting. Over those two sessions we modified written ground rules and norms from previous years, made overdue changes to the long standing negotiations procedures, and made edits in contract language in places where the old language was out of conformance with new impasse procedures and where the almost new Public School Labor Relations Board took control of public school negotiations from the State Board of Education.

The significance of yesterday’s session was twofold. It was the final day for the presentation of new topics, and no more can be brought to the table for this year without mutual agreement of both parties. It also marked the onset of discussions on compensation. It should be encouraging to know that both parties recognize the need for some progress on salary improvements. However that does not mean a settlement will be quick or easy. There are always devils in details and there are going to be some robust discussions on what the real level of resources is available and what would be their best use.

These updates will continue as we have information that is appropriate for reporting. Readers must understand that little in the way of details can be released with regularity. We are using a loose form of Interest-Based Bargaining which by its own nature requires some degree of confidentiality. In addition, there is a longstanding provision in the existing Agreement that states the following:

22E. CONFIDENTIALITY OF DISCUSSIONS

The content of negotiations discussions shall be regarded as confidential. There shall be no public announcement or press releases on the content of negotiations discussions prior to the (1) successful conclusion of negotiations or (2) impasse being declared by the State Superintendent of Schools, unless by mutual agreement.

PROPOSED STATE BOARD SCHOOL DISCIPLINE REGULATIONS HAVEN’T WE SUFFERED ENOUGH?

The State Board of Education recently published proposed regulations on student suspension and expulsion policies which would challenge our efforts to create safe schools and a positive learning environment for all students and school employees.

The proposed regulations severely limit a local school system’s flexibility to determine disciplinary consequences for disruptive students. They limit an expulsion and long-term suspension to conduct that is deemed violent or poses a serious danger of physical harm to others in the school. Since there is no consideration of alternative settings, many disruptive students would remain in the classroom setting.

Moreover, these proposed regulations would increase teacher workload by requiring them to prepare and grade work and correspond with students who are expelled and/or placed on long-term suspension. They also could jeopardize the safety of students who may be called as witnesses, subjecting them to peer harassment and bullying.

Ask the State Board to withdraw these misguided regulations.It’s time to get input from educators and local school systems to make sure that these regulations address the intervention programs, relevant professional development, alternative learning programs, and other priorities that we know are necessary to truly make a positive impact on discipline and student achievement.

The most effective emails contain personal stories. Tell State Board members how these regulations would impact you and your students, and how effective discipline policies are critical to creating a safe, positive learning environment for your students and colleagues. Use this link to do so; http://capwiz.com/nea/md/issues/alert/?alertid=62139481. Please provide a courtesy copy to bjones@mseanea.org.