April 20, 2006

My "to blog about" list

At the end of the semester, I put off plenty of voluntary things because the urgent items are, well, urgent. So commenting on passing ed policy debates is delayed, and I now have a long list of saved blog entries I'll get back to in May. Case in point: Ed Sector's interview with a Denver union activist who negotiated Procomp. It's a fascinating interview, and there are some important bits of context (and omissions). Here in Florida, our governor and political appointees are trying to shove through a mandated formula-driven merit-pay program called E-Comp that almost certainly violates the constitution's guarantee of collective bargaining for public employees—with the county school board, not the state. Why does that matter, you ask? Well, part of collective bargaining is this odd notion of due process. When merit-pay provisions are bargained with the school board, there are two ways that employees have due process—through the bargaining process (representation) and through grievances if they think there's been a mistake in pay.

Well, I guess I'm wordy enough to need an extended entry...

But what happens in a formula-driven pay scheme that depends on test results and algorithms calculated at the state level, say, if a teacher thinks there's been a mistake? Currently, in Florida a school board can appeal the assignment of a letter grade for a school; staff pore through the details given them by the state (which students counted, and so forth). But you can't have an employer conduct the appeal for an employee. And you can't expect schoolteachers to spend an inordinate amount of time checking statistics (as they should have the time to focus on students). Usually that means a volunteer grievance rep or a staff member prepares the grievance. But in this case, that would depend on test scores; so do union staff members get to look at confidential student information to prepare a grievance for a state-mandated formula? You'd have a conflict between the right to representation in employment here and the reasonable expectation that only families and school-system employees look at confidential student data, and employees only have access on a need-to-know basis. There are other problems with this scheme, but I need to wake up now and head to campus for my classes.

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Posted in Education policy on April 20, 2006 6:52 AM |