The Sacramento City Teachers Association and SEIU Local 1021 are readying to strike on March 23, 2022 against the Sacramento City Unified School District, “for our students,” giving parents yet one more reason to pull their kids from the public school district, and seek other education options.
As the Globe reported last week, California’s public school population saw a drop by 160,000 kids last year. Some experts say that enrollment drop was even higher. This year, experts expect even more parents to pull their kids from public schools, for myriad reasons.
Every day the teachers union says 10,000 students per day go without a permanent, credentialed teacher in the Sacramento City Unified School District, 3,000 students go without a substitute teacher, and there are nearly 600 students on the wait list for independent study, and at least 14 teaching vacancies for that program.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 130 July 2021, requiring school districts to provide Independent Study options to students who were unable or unwilling to return to in-person instruction when classes resumed later that summer.
Why? Why are 600 students seeking Independent Study, and where are the teachers who should be back to work?
David Fisher, President of Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and a second grade teacher, says, “amid the staffing crisis, the district is cutting teachers pay causing more educators to go work at surrounding school districts that offer more competitive pay,” MSN reported.
“While the Superintendent is demanding these huge cuts to teacher compensation, he continually receives lucrative increases,” Fisher said.
Is this really a cut to teacher compensation or the district refusing to meet additional compensation demands?
Apparently, the additional 600 students waiting to get into an independent study program haven’t been able to learn at all because they don’t feel safe coming to school in person, according to the teachers union.
What is going on?
The Sacramento School District, with 40,000 students, and the Sacramento Teachers Association met with a mediator – oddly by Zoom “Due to the ongoing pandemic” – who described the issues:
“The District’s position is that only those issues which are directly and specifically involved with aspects of the pandemic, such as Health and Safety, and Continuity of Learning, to name two, are properly included herein. The Union’s position is that short staffing is inseparable from, and is a contributing factor to some of the Covid-related problems facing the parties, and that issues related to short staffing, including wages and proposed take-aways, are thus properly before the panel.”
According to the mediator’s report, “The District laid out a number of proposals, ‘including Continuity of Instructional Programs, Extra Pay for Substitutes, Extra Pay for Nurses, Independent Study, Health and Safety (Reopening), Training Specialists and implementation of the District’s vaccination resolution.'”
Aren’t schools already “reopened?”
The Union responded to the District’s Request for Impasse, disputing the District’s framing of the issues in dispute.
Both the school district and teachers union heavily fixated on Health and Safety demands over ongoing COVID concerns, and additional compensation for school nurses and independent study teachers, and retroactive COVID sick leave to last October 2021.
The teachers union presented their issues:
- Providing a safe and healthy work environment during the pandemic. (1/27/22 Health & Safety proposal; School Nurse proposal)
- Extend Covid sick leave days by up to 10 additional days retroactive to 10/1/21.
- If there are changes to CDPH guidelines that conflict with already agreed-upon Health and Safety items, the higher standard will prevail.
- Create a SCTA/District Health and Safety committee.
- Finalize date for implementation of vaccination mandate. Add indemnity clause for violations of Health and Safety agreement.
- Other issues addressed in 1/27/22 SCTA Health and Safety proposal.
- SCTA Proposal on School Nurses – accept the District’s last proposal.
The school district presented its health and safety issues:
- Health and Safety for Reopening Schools
- General safety protections, including CDPH and SCDPH guidance for schools, and the District’s Return to Health Plan.
- Regular meetings between the parties on health and safety issues.
- Access to vaccination for employees. o Compliance with order on vaccination or test requirement for employees.
- Testing protocol for employees without proof of vaccination.
- Health screening for Covid symptoms.
- Protocol for monitoring symptoms and positive Covid cases.
- Compliance with CalOSHA notice requirements.
The mediator recommendations on health and safety issues:
“The Chair recommends that the parties adopt the current CDPH guideline, i.e., 3 feet distancing. Any questions that arise as the result of such updates may be raised for discussion at the Health and Safety Committee, or as otherwise determined by the parties.
Both parties have proposed compliance with the vaccination-or-testing mandates, but no compliance date has been set, the mediator’s report says. “The Chair recommends that April 30, 2022 be set as the final date for such compliance, with such date being subject to modification by mutual agreement of the parties. This provision should extend beyond 6/30/2022.”
“The Union has proposed that the District provide Covid Sick Leave retroactively for the period 10/1/21-12/31/21, while SB 95 was inoperative. The Chair finds this to be a reasonable allocation of Covid funds. The Chair recommends that the Union’s proposal be adopted.”
Is this really about “retroactive COVID sick leave?”
The school district rejected the mediator’s recommendations. Of the SCTA and SEIU union members, they make up 99% of the staff in the Sacramento City Unified School District.
As the Globe reported, “Even before the pandemic, 82 percent of low-income California eighth graders failed to perform proficiently on the 2019 National Assessment for Educational Progress reading exam,” Lance Izumi, Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, said last week. “Further, 53 percent of non-low-income eighth graders also failed to score proficiently.”
Unsurprisingly, California has the nation’s lowest literacy rate. And school lockdowns did not improve literacy or test scores. Some experts say California’s school kids’ IQ dropped by 20 points as a result of school lockdowns and distance learning.
The Sacramento City Teachers Union and Sacramento school district seem incapable of coming to an agreement that in all of these negotiations over sick leave pay, additional compensation for school nurses and independent study teachers, isn’t the focus supposed to be on the students?
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