Welcome back. Hope that you had a good Thanksgiving. Here’s an update on some current issues:
– APPR. The current NYS Education Department regulations require that the existing Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) agreement remain in effect unless and until a successor agreement is negotiated. That is why you have just received a communication from the District that supervisors will begin scheduling formal observations with appropriate notice and pre/post conferences. And now that the District indicated that they plan to do virtual observations, not currently in our agreement, we have formally requested to re-negotiate aspects of our APPR plan. We have until March 1, 2021 to conclude these negotiations.
– Calling Parents. Some principals are asking teachers to call parents to ask them whether they will select remote or hybrid learning for their child. Just like you, we were surprised by this request. I have reached out to Superintendent Myers-Small to get clarification as to whether this is a directive or a request for voluntary participation. I have also relayed to her that, to the best of our knowledge, teachers have not received sufficient information to be able to respond to the many questions that parents may have. We have also filed a Class Action Grievance based on the contractual language that the teachers’ responsibility is to teach and not to do the out-of-unit work that is the District’s responsibility. Until we receive a clear indication from the District that the request is a directive, please consider it as just a request subject to voluntary participation only.
– Planned Hybrid Model. There are still many unanswered questions about the District’s planned model for transitioning to hybrid learning. We are continuing our discussions with the District to ensure that schools would be safe for students and their teachers. Much will depend on what happens with the area transmission rates between now and then, on whether the District will provide the necessary supplies, resources and protocols, and on whether teachers with underlying health conditions can be appropriately accommodated. RTA is also investing in securing independent expert assessment of all affected schools and facilities by industrial hygienists. We will continue to keep you informed about these and other related questions.
– State Monitor’s Reports. The State-appointed Monitor issued two draft reports concluding that teachers and their union are the cause of the RCSD’s fiscal and academic problems. She is wrong on the budget deficit and her unfounded allegations suggest that we are overstaffed and that class sizes in our District are about half of what they should be; that administrators are unable to act against teachers who are incompetent and even abusive to students; and that the teachers and their contract are the main barriers to effective instruction and to the District’s fiscal stability. Among other suggestions, she recommends staff reductions, increasing class sizes, limiting teachers’ professional prerogative, eliminating negotiated guidelines for teacher evaluations, reducing our health benefits, closing some schools and sharing some schools with charters, and outsourcing services. The Monitor’s analysis is inaccurate, unfair and biased. Scapegoating teachers and vilifying their union is not the answer. Attached are her two reports. Please read them and then share your own perspective with Dr. Jallow <Shelley.Jallow@rcsdk12.org>.
Adam Urbanski, RTA President