Public Speakout at City Hall
Contractual agreements was the subject of concern at a recent panel discussion led by Councilwoman and Chair of the New York City Council Education Committee, Eva Moskowitz. The main issue being addressed was the clarity of these age-old documents and whether or not teachers, principals, and custodians truly understand their rights. "We are looking at the document that currently covers our schools and seeing if it truly serves kids in the best way possible," said Moskowitz.
The discussions, which took place over the course of a week focused on three main subjects: to raise awareness of this critical piece of the educational puzzle, to initiate a discussion about the rules (are we hindering or assisting in educating our kids), and reforms that need to be made-asking if the document makes sense for kids.
Right now, Moskowitz feels that the contracts have a "one-size-fits-all" model that really isn't conducive to an educational environment. Currently problems lie in both only a small percentage of teachers being rated unsatisfactorily (whereas many are possibly getting overlooked for "bad" behavior because of issues such as ten-ure) as well as teachers not knowing when they are doing something wrong because the contracts are not clear enough.
Disappointingly, Moskowitz has not been receiving the backing she feels she needs from teachers, due to an "overall level of fear and intimidation which pervades discussions of the teachers' contract. I did an extensive outreach to teachers and while they had plenty to say and were eager to share their stories with me, they all expressed an absolute fear of being blacklisted if they spoke publicly."
Many people question Moskowitz's motives behind these discussions, especially due to the timing, since some claim she is interfering with collective bargaining. In response to this, Moskowitz states, "These contracts are several years overdue. There's never really a 'good' time to discuss these topics. Interfering with collective bargaining would be asking parties what their demands are. Instead, we are asking questions very relevant to children and schools." Ultimately it is the children that will either benefit or suffer from these changes, or lack thereof and as with any call to change, only time will tell.#