Jill S. Levy
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) members–public
school principals, assistant principals, supervisors and day care
directors–have been patient, professional and persistent in trying
to get their respective employers–the City of New York and Mayor
Bloomberg–to come to the table with serious proposals and negotiate
a contract. Now, both Department of Education members and Early
Childhood Center members are angry. And with reason. Their contract
expired in March 2001.
Four months have passed since the United Federation of Teachers’(UFT)
contract, which expired before ours, was negotiated. One would
have thought that good management, bargaining in good faith, would
have come immediately to the table with a serious desire to talk
with school leaders. So, we waited patiently and professionally,
the way our members would expect us to behave.
It would have been futile to bargain with the previous city and
Board of Education administrations. Those leaders were lame ducks,
who showed little or no interest in their school and day care
leaders. We would have wasted precious time and energy. So we
waited for the new Chancellor to be appointed and a new governance
structure to be implemented.
We expect this administration to make good on its public statements
in support of school leaders who overwhelmingly bear the weight
of responsibility for the success of schools. Words without action
are hollow indeed.
While we have engaged in a few preliminary collective bargaining
meetings, subcommittee meetings, formal and informal discussions,
a number of us now earn less than the people we supervise; some
do not know whether their salaries for this year will be based
on 10 months or 12 months.
On top of this, we are dealing with the new UFT contract and its
implications for our members, including provisions like the extended
day that profoundly affect our jobs. And for all CSA members,
the workload ceaselessly piles up as Department of Education bureaucrats
clear their computer desk-tops of e-paper and forward it to principals
in a flow that would put Niagara Falls to shame.
Unlike the Department of Education contract talks, it would be
difficult to say that the day care contract talks have stalled
because the city hasn’t even begun serious bargaining as of this
writing. Even though Mayor Bloomberg has taken on the responsibility
of our educational system and has told the public to hold him
accountable for educating our children, he has absolved himself
of responsibility for the City’s day care/early childhood directors,
who are among the lowest paid professionals with some of the largest
responsibilities in our city.
It is unfortunate that this administration does not seem to understand
the importance of early education for our most fragile and needy
children; without such early intervention, they require intensive
and expensive educational interventions upon entering our public
The true sign of management’s regard and validation of its employees
is through the collective bargaining process where the needs of
both sides are respectfully discussed, passionately argued and
ultimately resolved in a mutually agreed upon contract that goes
to membership for ratification. What message are we getting?#
Jill Levy is the President of the Council of School Supervisors
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