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Is collective bargaining dead? 21 Idaho districts impose teacher contracts unilaterally

The Idaho school districts’ ability to impose contracts without negotiating with unions comes under Idaho’s new but not well-known school reform laws; they  rolled back most collective bargaining rights for teachers and limited contracts to one-year terms bringing teachers closer and closer to ‘independant contract status’ or ‘at will workers’.  They also limited contract negotiations to salary and benefits only and shifted budget money from salaries to merit bonuses.

Are teachers moving closer and closer to the Walmart model of education?  As I wrote in 2009, the answer is “yes” (http://www.dailycensored.com/2009/11/17/good-news-for-charter-school-chains-in-california-asset-stripping-gives-them-titles-to-public-schools/).

Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, said members across the state are frustrated that the new talks are limited to salaries and benefits, preventing teachers from addressing issues like overcrowded classrooms and learning environments.

From Cyr’s perspective:

“That’s devaluing them as professionals who know what children need to succeed” (http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/21-Idaho-districts-impose-teacher-contracts-3652336.php).

All of this while all eyes were on Wisconsin reminding us that this is a national problem and even international for it is the class struggle waged by the ruling class against the 99%.

Other districts that unilaterally imposed contract terms include Kellogg, Mullan and Wallace in northern Idaho and Middleton, Cascade, Idaho Falls, Nampa and Caldwell in southern Idaho.

State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna was delighted and said it was good news that just 21 out of 130 school districts and charter schools weren’t able to reach agreement by the deadline.  He works for the privatizers as a ‘public employee’.  You pay his salary.

According to Luna:

“They said there would be strikes, there would be walkouts, there would be lawsuits - none of that has happened,” Luna told The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/M99LEX ). “If you measure this against the doomsday scenario that they painted, I think this is very positive news.”

The ‘they’ of course are the teachers that teach Idaho children.  You know: the greedy teachers who entered the profession so they could make money and buy ‘stuff”.

Carrie Scozzaro, a high school art teacher and outgoing president of the Lakeland Education Association in Kootenai County, said teachers feel like they’re no longer being listened to as professionals.  she is right.  That is due to the fact that teaching is no longer a profession it is a Walmart job that lasts for three to five years and teachers are mere Walmart workers and greeters.

Carrie Scozzaro went on to say what many teachers feel and have for decades if not longer:

“There’s that sort of hopelessness of not being part of the process and being accused of being part of the problem, which is frustrating” (ibid).  Sure, democracy is the last thing autocrats want.

In the Lakeland School District, 96 percent of the union members rejected the district’s last offer on salaries and benefits for the coming years. That offer, like the past four years, included no base salary increase.  sIt was a sham negotiation by the district conducted in bad faith.

In 2011 — the first year the new laws were in effect — a couple of Idaho school districts unilaterally imposed contract terms.  Experimenting is the all the rage among privatizers and union destroyers.  That hadn’t happened in the previous four decades that districts had met with local teachers associations for collective bargaining but this year was to begin the big pusch.

That all this corresponds with school closures, privatization, charter schools, attacks on teachers, unions, zero tolerance programs, and testing students as if they were animal rats is not a coincidence.  It is a well thought out business plan by the elites and it is sweeping the country like locusts.

This law allowing for the imposition of martial law and the dispensation of collective bargaining is a reflection of the larger politics of the country that is bent on assuring democracy is soemthing you read about in history books.

Idaho voters will decide in November whether to keep the new law or repeal it through a referendum.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com


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About The Author

Dr. Danny Weil is a public interest attorney who has practiced for more than twenty years and has been published in a case of first impression in California. He is no longer active as a lawyer but has written seven books on education, has taught second grade in South Central LA, PS 122, taught K-1 migrant children in Santa Maria, California and Guadalupe, California, taught in the California Youth Authority to first and second degree murderers and taught for seventeen years at Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, CA. in the philosophy department. Dr. Weil holds a BA in Political Economics and Philosophy, a multi-subject bilingual credential in education (he is fluent in Spanish) and a PhD in Critical Thinking. Dr. Weil was one of 226 legal residents in Nicaragua, where he worked for the Ministry of Culture under the Sandanistas in1985. Dr. Weil is an expert in curriculum design for critical thinking at all levels of education, from K-adult. He is also an internationally recognized speaker on critical thinking and pedagogy, having written many books on the subject. Danny Weil is a writer for Project Censored and Daily Censored. He received the Project Censored "Most Censored" News Stories of 2009-10 award for his article: "Neoliberalism, Charter Schools and the Chicago Model / Obama and Duncan's Education Policy: Like Bush's, Only Worse," published by Counterpunch, August 24, 2009. Dr. Weil has published more than seven books on education in the past 20 years. You can also read much more about all aspects of the privatization of the educational means of production and the for-profit, predatory colleges in his writings found at Truthout.com, Counterpunch.com, Dailycensored.com, dissidentvoice.com and Project Censored.com where he has covered the issue of the privatization of education for years. He can be reached at [email protected] His new book, an encyclopedia on charter schools, entitled: "Charter School Movement: History, Politics, Policies, Economics and Effectiveness," 641 pages, was published in August of 2009 by Grey House Publishing, New York, and provides a scathing look at the privatization of education through charter schools. He is currently a member of the Truthout Public Intellectual Project. "The project is designed to provide a platform for the general public to think carefully about a range of social problems that affect their lives. It will also allow a generation of scholars to reflect on their own intellectual practices, discourses and understanding of what it might mean to embrace their role as public intellectuals" (http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=4349:the-public-intellectual-project).

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  • You ask, I answer

    Yes, it’s dead.  Get a job.

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