Teaching Profession

A Kerfuffle in Seattle Over Reduced Teaching Days

By Stephen Sawchuk — May 11, 2009 1 min read

If you think the federal stimulus package is going to be a cure-all for the thorny issues of staffing flexibility, you need look no further than Seattle to see that’s probably a pipe dream.

According to the story in the link above, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson sent a letter saying that teachers’ contracts wouldn’t be renewed unless they agreed to one fewer paid staff-development day. The district apparently doesn’t have the money to cover it anymore.

The local union says the letter amounts to firing all 3,300 teachers in the district and is pushing back. It argues that such changes need to be approved through the collective bargaining agreement.

I’m not that familiar with the Seattle contract, and elements such as paid staff training are sometimes set by states and sometimes by contracts. But as some experts, like Marguerite Roza of the Center on Reinventing Public Education have noted, contracts generally include language allowing parties to reopen bargaining in times of financial strain.

I haven’t heard any instances of that occurring, but it will be interesting if Goodloe-Johnson tries to go that route here.

Have you heard of any districts reopening bargaining? If you have, why not hit the comment button and let us know?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.