‘We are not asking for money’: Teachers union wants to go back to bargaining

‘We are not asking for money’: Teachers union wants to go back to bargaining

School board extends union contract until Sept. 30, unless new agreement reached

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Logo from MCEA

Montgomery County Public Schools and its teachers have reached an impasse on certain terms of a union contract, leading the two groups into private mediation.

Now the union is speaking out about what it wants — transparency — and asking the board to go back to the bargaining table instead.

The union called on MCPS to enter negotiations again on Monday . The union contract expired on July 31.

On the same day, however, the Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution that extends the union contract either until Sept. 30 or until a new contract is finalized.

The contract extension is to remain in place while the union and school district pursue mediation from the state, according to Superintendent Jack Smith.

The Montgomery County Education Association hosted a “Speak Out” virtual event on Thursday, laying out the terms it has asked to be included in the contract. MCPS has rejected them, the union said.

Those include more information and transparency on staffing allocations, instructional material distribution, notification of failed environmental tests, flexibility for time management decisions, and adding “school-to-prison pipeline” as something to prevent.

Jennifer Martin, vice president of MCEA, said the union has compromised during negotiations to try to address the school system’s concerns.

“We have presented proposals, at no cost, that would help ensure equitable access to experienced, high-quality teachers for Black and brown students through increased transparency regarding schools’ resource allocations and emphasis on restorative justice, and better systems for teacher placements and transfers,” she said.

Dustin Jeter, a social studies teacher at Springbrook High School, said transparency is needed in school-level decisions made without the input of staff members and the community.

“The lack of transparency at the school level perpetuates inequity within our system and disenfranchises many of the key stakeholders who must live with the school-based decisions that are made,” he said.

Jeter said MCEA initially proposed creating school-site councils made up of teachers and community members. The councils would make recommendations to principals, who would make final decisions. But MCPS was not interested in the suggestion, Jeter said.

The school system has no accountability for how its funds are used, which can lead to administrators potentially playing favorites or making inequitable staffing decisions, he said.
“This is the system that has led us to inequalities that have our Black, brown and low-income students being disproportionately taught by novice teachers,” he said.

The union wants instructional leadership teams to have access to non-confidential staffing allocation information, as well as school facility project information, and notification of failed environmental tests.

Several other educators and parents of students spoke in support of MCEA during the event.

“We are not asking for money,” Jeter said. “We’re asking for greater transparency for our educators and for our community. Greater transparency, which boils down to a greater respect that we, as members of our school communities, deserve to be a part of how decisions are made for running schools.”

Staff reporter Caitlynn Peetz contributed to this story.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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