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Union Urging Principals in Detroit Not To Volunteer for Reform Effort

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Detroit principals are being urged by their union's leadership not to volunteer for a proposed school-based management project because they risk losing their jobs under the current version of the plan.

In a newsletter sent to its membership last month, the Organization of School Administrators and Supervisors advised against participating in the reform effort until the union and the school board finish negotiations over a new collective-bargaining agreement.

"The plan raises a number of serious questions and, in some instances, violates our contract," the newsletter said.

The recommended boycott could affect schools' participation in the Detroit Compact, a school-business-community partnership. Schools are required to seek "empowered status" before joining the program.

The move by the union marked an escalation of its opposition to part of the "Quality Education Plan" proposed by John W. Porter, the district's general superintendent. Mr. Porter was hired last year on an interim basis and given a mandate to turn around the educationally and fiscally troubled district.

In the initial outline of the plan, the superintendent indicated that he would be seeking to hold school staff members accountable for improving student achievement. (See Education Week, Sept. 20, 1989.)

In January, Mr. Porter proposed giving 25 percent pay raises to principals serving in schools that volunteered for increased school-based management. In return, he requested the authority to remove principals if their schools failed to meet specified goals within three years.

Both the merit-pay and accountability proposals ran into immediate opposition from the administrators' union. District officials indicated that they were willing to negotiate with the group on the specifics of the plan.

Last month's call for a boycott was apparently a bid to put further pressure on the district to modify the plan. Elected officials of the union were on vacation last week and unavailable for comment.

--ws

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