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Green Dot Negotiations

Once the staff of the new Green Dot Charter School in the Bronx indicated that they wanted to be represented by the UFT and the union was formally recognized as their collective bargaining agent, a development we reported at Edwize here and here, the union began the process of negotiating the first contract. Given the UFT-Green Dot partnership which created this school, we fully expect that the contract process will be constructive and expeditious. Following the UFT’s core principles, we believe that it is essential that the staff of the school be fully involved in this contract process from the start, so that the UFT’s bargaining proposals reflect the needs and priorities of the members. As a consequence, much of the union’s work with the Green Dot Charter School over the last few months has focused on chapter organizing with an emphasis on the first contract.

Contract negotiations work best when the parties do not engage in public posturing, but seriously engage each other over the bargaining table. That is the best practice the UFT will follow in our negotiations with Green Dot. Knowing this practice, critics of the UFT’s partnership with Green Dot have taken this moment to publish in the edublogosphere groundless speculation and factual misinformation about the school and the contract process.

UFT leaders, including myself, have always been clear that until a contract was negotiated and ratified, the school has been operating under the terms of a Personnel Policy that was developed as part of the charter application to follow the general principles of Green Dot schools in California. Those principles and that personnel policy bear little resemblance to the caricature of them presented by these critics. To cite just one particularly egregious example, it is Green Dot policy to pay their teachers 110% of what they would receive on the salary schedule of the school district in which they worked; consequently, teachers at the Bronx Green Dot Charter School are paid 110% of what they would earn as a NYC DoE teacher. Yet the critics are incredibly claiming that they are being paid less than a NYC DoE teacher.

Once the contract for the Green Dot Charter School is ratified by the members, the UFT will publish it, as we publish all contracts. At that time, we will fully discuss its main features here.

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10 Comments:

  • 1 NYC Educator
    · Nov 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I certainly appreciate your informative posts about Green Dot. I am particularly fascinated by your assertion that Green Dot’s “just cause” provisions are better than tenure, since new hires can take advantage of them.

    I’m very interested in how these provisions work. Kindly tell us how many teacher positions this “just cause” provision has saved. Also, how many times has it been used?

    Green Dot’s website proclaims its teachers have neither tenure nor seniority rights. Oddly, it neglects to mention that its teachers have protection superior to tenure.

    By the way, do you think it benefits working teachers to have no seniority privileges?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  • 2 SOC ST TEACHER
    · Nov 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    It looks like being caught in an outright misrepresentation on the Green Dot Charter School makes some folks want to change the subject.

  • 3 MichaelB
    · Nov 22, 2008 at 12:20 am

    A couple of months ago the Post reported that Green Dot teachers wouldn’t have tenure. During a discussion in our faculty lounge, I pointed out that I remembered reading on Edwize that Green Dot teachers would have “just cause” protection from day one, which seems to be instant tenure. No one believed that just cause protection would be as strong as tenure. Here were a couple of theories: with tenure they have to go for your license, rather than just get you out of the school, so the case against you needs to be stronger. Or, Green Dot grievances might go before different arbitrators who wouldn’t be bound by the same case law as our current ones and might have greater leeway to get rid of someone who wasn’t a “good fit”.

    Are we right on either count?

  • 4 NYC Educator
    · Nov 22, 2008 at 7:06 am

    It’s regrettable that baseless personal attacks are pass for discussion here.

    I asked a question, I did not misrepresent anything, I did not write the piece Mr. Casey complains about, and I do not appreciate being libeled yet again on this forum.

    It is you who is changing the subject, and it is disgraceful that neither you, nor Mr. Casey, nor anyone in our union will not answer a simple question about the schools we UFT members are compelled to support.

    Your lack of an answer speaks volumes.

  • 5 Schoolgal
    · Nov 22, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I am not a supporter of Charter Schools because I firmly believe that the elements that make them successful–Parent involvement
    -Strong discipline/education standard code
    -Strong teacher collaboration
    -Low class size

    can and should be part of the public school environment and contract. Merit Pay and principal bonuses, IMHO, puts the focus on test prep.

    We have seen many charter schools, including the UFT charter school, go through some difficulties.

    To have to give up basic rights, including tenure, to achieve a quality school makes no sense to me. We as teachers recognize the problems, yet we give in to people like Michelle Rhee who want to blame teachers and the union for making it difficult to get rid of bad teachers. Maybe the probation period should be extended to 4 years as well as a panel of teachers to work with teachers in jeopardy. Then if the teacher fails to improve according to the guideline, that teacher can be removed.

    So I look forward to reading this contract.

  • 6 jd2718
    · Nov 23, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Does the UFT have a separate division that collaborates with Green Dot? Will the teachers be represented by a part of the UFT totally distinct from whoever is helping to set up the school?

    Jonathan

  • 7 Leo Casey
    · Nov 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

    MichaelB:

    Under NY State Education law, all public school teachers working for districts are eligible for tenure. 3020a proceedings for the removal of tenure and a teaching license are so named for the section of the state law which outlines them. By contract, NY State Charter School law, as most charter school state laws that I am aware of, does not include charter school teachers in that category.

    What that means is that it is up to charter schools to develop personnel policies, either through collective bargaining with a union when they are organized, or by themselves. When we organized our own two charter schools, we established our own system of tenure, with the same protections as those for educators in NYCDoE schools. However, it can not be part of the proceedings that take place under state law — the proceedings would have arbitrators, but they would be hired by the school and the union.

    The standard for dismissal in tenure cases is just cause — the school district has a burden of proof that the teacher either has engaged in some overt act of misconduct or is failing to meet minimum standards of performance. The Green Dot schools have this same standard — from the moment they are hired and not after three years of probation — and an independent arbitrator to hear a case for dismissal.

    Jonathan:

    In the two UFT charter schools and the Green Dot school, we have UFT representatives who service the members only. They are not involved in the management of the schools.

  • 8 jd2718
    · Nov 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Leo,

    on the school management side, is the UFT involved as Local 2, or is there some other subdivision or unit?

    When a dispute arises, or whan a grievance, or whatever similar paper, gets filed, how does the UFT avoid being party to both sides?

    And if something needs to go further, needs to be arbitrated, are there separate parts of the UFT that assist each side?

    Jonathan

  • 9 Leo Casey
    · Nov 25, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Jonathan:

    The management of the schools are their respective Board of Trustees. In the case of the UFT charter school, the Board includes the school leaders, teacher representatives, parent representatives, community representatives and representatives of the central UFT.

    The grievance procedure starts at the school, goes to an appeal to the Board [we have a retired UFT officer who is not on the Board or connected to the school serving as the hearing officer for the Board], and finishes with an appeal to an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision is binding.

    What we have done is completely separate the UFT representatives on the management of the school from the UFT advocates in the grievance process.

  • 10 NYC Educator
    · Nov 25, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Mr. Casey,

    Thank you for your excellent explanation of “just cause” as it applies to Green Dot. I found it very informative.

    Since, as you say, it utilizes the same standard as tenure (which, oddly, Green Dot’s website explicitly rejects–why do you suppose that is? And why do you suppose Steve Barr declared on Eduwonk that teachers dump tenure to work for him? And why do you suppose the LA Times suggested teachers throw tenure out the window to work for Green Dot?), kindly tell us how many times it has been tested, and how many teacher positions it has saved.

    I’ve no doubt you, as a professional, would not make such strong statements without thoroughly having examined how the model works in practice.

    Also, perhaps you missed this question, but since Green Dot’s website explicitly rejects seniority rights, and the UFT is now engaged in a partnership with Green Dot, kindly tell us how this philosophy will benefit working teachers. I’ve no doubt the UFT thoroughly considered this before partnering with Green Dot.

    Thank you in advance.