Sound Off

Sound Off: Teacher contracts

Do teachers in Lawrence have the right to negotiate their own individual contracts with the school board, or do they have to be represented?

Lawrence school district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said the Lawrence Education Association is the recognized bargaining unit for teachers in the Lawrence school district. LEA is a local affiliate of the Kansas National Education Association. According to Mark Desetti of the KNEA explains that under the Kansas Professional Negotiations Act (K.S.A. 72-5415), whenever a professional association such as LEA is recognized by a majority of the professional employees in a district, that association becomes the exclusive representative to negotiate contracts for all teachers within that district.


Jaime Baggett 4 years, 11 months ago

Ummmm, that would take FOREVER - and the KNEA has each teacher's best interest at heart.

MattBaker05 4 years, 11 months ago

The KNEA has the interest of teachers in general at heart, but I don't believe they have the interest of EACH teacher.

The KNEA seems to be encouraging all teachers to be paid the same, whether they are low-demand PE & history teachers or high-demand science teachers. If I was a teacher in rural Kansas able to teach upper-level science and math classes, I would definitely want to be able to leverage my rare qualities into a higher salary than others with a line of applicants qualified to replace them.

In this era of obsessive sabermetrics and impressive search engine algorithms, the unions are going to have to bend a little on demands for accountability. The NEA needs to find a palatable set of measures (factoring in more than just test scores to measure a teacher) and stop insisting that all teachers be paid the same.

And yes, individual negotiations will take a long time. But most businesses seem to have the ability. That is why we have middle management.

pittstatebb 4 years, 11 months ago

The vast majority of schools do not have "middle management". The creation of these non-teaching jobs could add a significant cost to K-12 education. The alternative that has been presented by our elected officials has been to offer non-negotiated contracts. I have never been able to understand how a bill could be presented that would allow a district to opt out of negotiating with anyone (even an individual). Of course, once you see the qualifications of the House chair of the education commiteee . . .

texburgh 4 years, 11 months ago

To MattBaker05's points: 1) The union DOES have the interest of all teachers in mind when they negotiate. Unions are required to represent ALL at the bargaining table and so bargaining positions are created by surveys of ALL bargaining unit members. 2) School districts are permitted to pay teachers more based on any number of motives - they can pay more for high demand or hard to fill areas, more for specialized training (ESL, for example), more for teaching in more challenging schools. Such "bonuses" are outside of negotiations by law. What they don't typically do is pay more for student performance because teaching is a collaborative effort. A middle school math teacher with excellent student performance is building on the K-5 teachers who developed earlier math skills in those students; A literature teacher doesn't have outstanding student achievement without the efforts of all the reading and English teachers who came before. 3) The union - KNEA and NEA - is the one group that consistently argues for more accountability, demanding more than just single day, fill in the blank state assessments. The problem with accountability that pushes it to that single metric comes not from the unions; it comes from policy makers who demand simple answers to complex questions. Accountability systems based on those tests were created by legislatures and ed department bureaucrats, not the unions. 4) Schools and businesses are not the same and can't be evaluated the same way. A business that gets substandard raw materials, sends it back to the supplier. No one requires GM to build a quality product with flawed steel. Alchemy is not required of any business. But schools do exactly that. They take each and every child that walks in the door and they seek to transform that child into a productive citizen ready to pursue a good job or post secondary education. Poverty, hunger, sickness, physical or developmental disabilities, lack of English, behavior disorders - it doesn't matter. They schools take on that responsibility and strive to perform academic alchemy. No business can compare.

meatheadwisdom 4 years, 11 months ago

It's not all that difficult to unseat the barganing unit, you just have to have another organized group of teachers (union or not) bring the matter to a vote, majority rules. I saw it nearly happen in a small district in SEK, an unaffiliated group of teachers missed voting out the KNEA negotiating group by 3 votes.

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