Friday, May 27, 2011

PERB to UTLA: Shut Up and Take It Like a Teacher

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) last week, seeking a court injunction against Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD), to block implementation of a teacher evaluation system based on student test scores and to prevent the conversion of two more LAUSD schools to charter schools. PERB has denied the union’s request without giving a reason why, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It is a contractual violation to unilaterally impose the new evaluation system on teachers, as teacher evaluation policies are supposed to be negotiated as part of the contract. LAUSD had planned to implement a voluntary pilot version of the program next year. Ostensibly, they may have seen the pilot program as separate from the contract since it was voluntary. They may even have intended to negotiate full implementation with the union after the results from the pilot study were in. However, since LAUSD has made it clear that their ultimate goal is to implement the plan district-wide in 2012-2013, the pilot program could be seen as a Trojan horse. If they get the plan implemented on a small scale, jook up some compelling data, buy off a few of the suckers who volunteered to participate and get them to lavish praise on the system, they can create an atmosphere among parents and the press that makes the plan seem like a resounding success, while making any resistance to it seem reactionary.

In the wake of the PERB ruling, Sleazy Deasy gloated, “We can continue with our plans,” the Times reported. UTLA may still be able to negotiate final implementation for the 2012-2013 school year. However, it will be an uphill battle if the pilot program is already in place. With the courts against them, they may have to resort to a job action if they want to block implementation of the pilot program. Considering the generally hostile environment toward teachers and the historical wimpiness of UTLA, this seems unlikely.

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