discus our position at any time the teachers will do theirs,"
board president William Manning said after a parent proposed
talking things over in public to clear up what she alleged were
conflicting and confusing accounts of where each side in the
contract dispute stands.
to have an open forum for discussion," said Marty Michles,
president of the Red Clay Education Association, the teachers'
stressed, however, that his willingness to participate in such a
session applies only if it is conducted "without the screaming
and circus atmosphere."
in the board's monthly business meeting on Sept. 18, several
speakers raked the board, district administration and Manning in
particular for allegedly not negotiating in good faith. They
spoke to applause, some derisive laughter and catcalls from some
200 teachers and supporting parents, most of whom stood along
the back walls of the auditorium at Warner Elementary School.
Before the meeting, the protestors had formed a picket
line along 18th Street in front of the building.
told Delaforum after that portion that several teachers have
decided not to participate in unpaid activities beyond the
school day. She said it was not an organized job action, but
individual and voluntary elections "not to do anything we're not
required [by the extended contract] to do." Delaware law does
not permit strikes or organized work stoppages by public
evidently touched off the demonstration was distribution by the
administration of a letter to parents in which Manning and
Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski blamed the union for blocking
a settlement of the dispute by proposing a 26% increase, in
three annual increments of 10%, 8% and 8%, in the district
portion of teachers' salaries. Districts pay about a third of
the salaries and the sate pays the rest. The district has
proposed a 6% increase this year and reopening of the contract
next summer to negotiate salaries and benefits.
said teachers have not received any increases in district pay
since the former contract ran out in 2000. The state has
provided raises, including a 2% increase this year.
meeting Manning called the 26% proposal "a demand we simply
can't meet." He said Red Clay did not have the money to do so
without going to residents in a referendum to obtain a "hefty
tax increase." Board member Charles Cavanaugh said that no one
in any business has received a double-digit pay raise in more
than a decade.
of the dispute, however, is with a board proposal that teachers
agree to establish a procedure for using measured improvements
in students' performance over the course of a school year as
part of their job-performance evaluations. The
administration in late August withdrew that condition,
substituting a one-year pilot study, which would have no bearing
on evaluations this year and re-opening the issue next summer.
dispute having entered the process of formal fact-finding,
Manning said he would be willing to make public the district's
submission, if it legally permissible to do so. He called an
unscheduled closed-door executive session of board members,
presumably to discuss that point.
Clay union received strong support from Barbara Grogg, president
of the Delaware State Education Association, the statewide union
with which it is affiliated. Denouncing the linking of
evaluations with student testing, she said "a plan that causes
fear has no place in education." She charged that Red Clay has
"tried to demoralize [its] teachers by treating them shabbily."
sense to measure teachers by how well their students can
perform," Manning said. "I am always disappointed when they tell
me that holding people accountable is a terrible thing to do."
Award-winning teacher Cindy Pacomis said that, because all
children are different, "one-size testing does not fit all."
Parent Judy Pappenhagen said frequent testing has had an ill
effect on the children. And Alyssa Hunter-Harris, a sophomore at
Cab Calloway School of the Arts, charged, "You guys test us to
death. Why is it relevant to what you're going to pay our
Kris Chalfant claimed that Red Clay students spend the
equivalent of five week a year being tested. She charged that
the district's school have been "resegregated," adding that, if
student performance is the ultimate measure of a teacher's
ability, "who will want to teach at Shortlidge or Warner instead
of Linden Hill or Brandywine Springs?" The former schools are in
Wilmington while the latter are in the suburbs.
heard out the critics during the usual portion reserved for
public comment at the beginning of the meeting and then went on
with other business. Before adjournment -- after most of the
protestors had left -- members resumed a discussion of the
contract issue. Michles remained for that portion of the
members then were unanimous in disputing the earlier speakers.
was so much misinformation that I don't know where to start,"
Toni Eaton said. "Parents aren't getting [much] information and
what they are getting is from the teacher's point of view." She
said that Red Clay's proposed evaluation proposal is not based
on results of a single test, but would use "multiple assessments
throughout the year."
said that the intent is not to measure how students perform in
comparison to each other or other classes, but to chart the rate
of individual students' improvement over the course of the year
as an indicator of the teacher's performance.
president Irwin Becnel took issue with the claims regarding the
amount of testing that goes on. He said it nets out to about 10
to 12 hours over the course of the year -- nowhere near
the five weeks that was claimed.
Rice said that the board is not acting against the interests of
Red Clay teachers. "We are only trying to do what we were
elected to do," she said.