State Journal

Labor Tiff Comes With a Price Tag: $13.2 Million

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Nobody’s happy about the union-management standoff that’s left Washington state without a $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative to support the teaching of Advanced Placement classes.

It foundered on the inability of Mentoring Advanced Programs for Students, or MAPS, the Vancouver, Wash.-based group that was awarded the grant, and local affiliates of the Washington Education Association to come to terms on a financial-incentive program for participating teachers.

MAPS announced May 2 that the nonprofit national initiative, which is financed by several prominent foundations and corporations, had withdrawn the grant award.

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See other stories on education issues in Washington. See data on Washington's public school system.

“Unfortunately we have lost a large opportunity for students and teachers,” Scott Keeney, the founder and chairman of the board of MAPS, said in a statement.

The grant included money to pay bonuses for teachers who had increased the number of students scoring 3 or above, out of a possible 5, on AP tests.

But members of the state’s 60,000-strong teachers’ union—an affiliate of the National Education Association—saw that as merit pay, which would violate the contracts between union locals and school districts.

Union officials negotiated with MAPS but could not solve the impasse, said Rich Wood, a WEA spokesman.

“Ultimately it was the National Math Initiative that withdrew the grant,” he said.

The stalemate has generated plenty of fodder for foes of the teachers’ union.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia, Wash.-based conservative think tank and foe of the WEA, has posted on YouTube a video report and interview with foundation officials, who accuse the union of putting its power ahead of the interests of teachers and students.

So far, state education officials have steered clear.

“This has nothing to do with us,” said Nathan F. Olson, a spokesman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, he said, “we’re disappointed that the two parties couldn’t come to agreement, because this $13 million is not going into Washington classrooms.”

Vol. 27, Issue 38, Page 17

Published in Print: May 21, 2008, as Labor Tiff Comes With a Price Tag: $13.2 Million
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