Petersburg School Board Folds on Union Bargaining


by James C. Sherlock

The Petersburg Education Association has a plan for collective bargaining.

So, once, did the school board. Unanimously.

We have been looking for signs of strength in the Petersburg School Board so we can believe it will take strong and innovative measures to improve the city’s dreadful schools.

It is the wrong place to look. The union routed the board on collective bargaining without resistance.

Petersburg School Board – Official Photo

The state, during the Democratic interregnum in the General Assembly and governorship, made local government collective bargaining optional.

On June 21st, the Petersburg board passed a resolution for teachers, guidance counselors and librarians who hold a teaching license to have a form of collective bargaining.

As reported by The Progress-Index’s Joyce Chu,

The resolution does not allow teachers the ability to negotiate their wages or benefits, limiting the scope of negotiations to hours and scheduling, health and safety, and work rules.

Just a guess, but that board likely did not vote originally to allow negotiations on wages or benefits for a pretty good reason.

Changes in working conditions alone can drive up costs.

And Petersburg, which has already been in state financial collapse once, is fully extended financially.

The City’s ability to pay. One of the foundational policies for budget development is that current revenues will fund current expenditures.

All in, the “Total General Fund” revenues of Petersburg in FY 2023-24 are forecast to be $4.5 million less than actual revenues in 2021-22, even with a very large increase in forecast revenues in 2023-24 over actual revenues from the previous year.

Source https://www.petersburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7769/FY-2023-24-R-City-of-Petersburg-Adopted-Operating-Budget-2?bidId=

As for public safety,

  • In the police force, vacancies included one of three Police Captains, four of six Police Lieutenants, one of twelve Sergeants and seven of 69 Officers;
  • In the Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, vacant positions included Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, one of five battalion chiefs, two of fifteen Fire Captains, and ten of fifteen Fire Sergeants.

Nine of 40 positions in Streets were vacant; twenty six of 113 vacant in Social Services; eight of 22 in the Library; five of 9 in Planning, including the Director. Director of Neighborhood Services, vacant.

Petersburg gets infrastructure grants for water, sewer and flood control. But that money is fenced. Long-term borrowing is for capital projects.

The 2023-24 transfer to schools is $12,361,478. Up 40% since 2020-21.

Given the rest of the numbers, that represents a major prioritization for school funding to the detriment of everything else. The City has done what it can and then some.

Petersburg Schools. The Petersburg City Public School System is comprised of six schools, one early childhood center, and one alternative program.

There are four K-5 elementary schools and services for three- and four-year old students at the Westview Early Childhood Education Center.

There are two secondary schools, Vernon Johns Middle School and Petersburg High School.

The Governor’s schools offer opportunities for high school students. Petersburg Public Schools participates in the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government & International Studies and the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts on West Washington St. in Petersburg.  Admission is by application through their local school division and review by each school’s regional committee.

The Blandford Academy Alternative Program provides services to secondary students where a traditional setting has not been successful at meeting their needs.

Petersburg teachers in three charts. For a look at the Petersburg school system’s teachers:

 

 

 

An argument could be made that higher pay would result in dismissal of many of the current teachers and hiring of more qualified replacements that are fully licensed.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the union won’t tolerate that in a new contract. And that the school board will never ask for that provision.

Bottom line. Notwithstanding the well-known city finances, the Petersburg Education Association raged at the school board that the resolution they passed was a slap in the face.

On August 17th the board, under union pressure, totally folded — scrapping its former unanimous position on collective bargaining.

The board is going to form a committee with the union to figure out the next step.

I recommend the board put on the table annual salary increases or cuts based on progress or lack of same toward meeting the criteria in the school board’s excellent but dead-letter Corrective Action Plan.

Such a provision would align student achievement with teacher and administrator pay.

That is why, like firing poorly-performing and unqualified teachers in favor of better ones, it will never happen.

Getting back to what they are going to actually negotiate, the school board had it right the first time. If the package includes rights for the union to negotiate higher wages and benefits, good luck paying for them.

But if you are looking for certainty, bet that there will be no reference to the needs of the students in that negotiation.

The children need the state constitution change I have lobbied for:

  • so that the state can take over the hopelessly underperforming schools and school divisions;
  • so that the state can issue charters to public charter schools so that they don’t need school division permission that the unions will never permit; and
  • so that the state can issue vouchers for every poor kid and his or her family stuck in underperforming school divisions and schools.

You know.

Like states do when they care about a quality education for every kid.


Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

47 responses to “Petersburg School Board Folds on Union Bargaining”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Petersburg, Virginia and Gary, Indiana have so much in common. Even if the Commonwealth of Virginia could take over the schools would they do any better? Which bean counter at the VDOE could actually turn things around?

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      No bean counters. In the best states, expert practitioners are solicited to serve as boards to recruit and choose new methods and new teachers. Success Academy leans heavily on Teach for America volunteers and trains them in their methods in their own teachers academy. Completely different approach.

      The alternative is to give up.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      No bean counters. In the best states, expert practitioners are solicited to serve as boards to recruit and choose new methods and new teachers. Success Academy leans heavily on Teach for America volunteers and trains them in their methods in their own teachers academy. Completely different approach.

      The alternative is to give up.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        This has promise Captain. I am familiar with both. The lynchpin is getting together the right board leaders that are committed to see the turnaround from start to finish.

      2. Not Today Avatar

        Teach for America volunteers have limited training, skills and experience, and burnout quickly then leave. They perform NO BETTER than other teachers according to TFA’s own cherry-picked data and can demonstrate (through any randomized, replicated survey, long term success): https://www.teachforamerica.org/what-we-do/research They’ve quickly lost their appeal nationwide for a reason. For the new, TFA teachers, the pay is crappy and they usually have much better offers. TFA teachers are better than empty classrooms, and those (VERY FEW) who stay get better quickly. That’s the most that can be said. They’re not a good or better replacement for certificated/dedicated teaching professionals.

      3. Not Today Avatar

        Teach for America volunteers have limited training, skills and experience, and burnout quickly then leave. They perform NO BETTER than other teachers according to TFA’s own cherry-picked data and can demonstrate (through any randomized, replicated survey, long term success): https://www.teachforamerica.org/what-we-do/research They’ve quickly lost their appeal nationwide for a reason. For the new, TFA teachers, the pay is crappy and they usually have much better offers. TFA teachers are better than empty classrooms, and those (VERY FEW) who stay get better quickly. That’s the most that can be said. They’re not a good or better replacement for certificated/dedicated teaching professionals.

      4. Not Today Avatar

        Teach for America volunteers have limited training, skills and experience, and burnout quickly then leave. They perform NO BETTER than other teachers according to TFA’s own cherry-picked data and can’t demonstrate (through any randomized, replicated survey) long term success: https://www.teachforamerica.org/what-we-do/research They’ve quickly lost their appeal nationwide for a reason. For TFA teachers, the pay is crappy and they usually have much better offers. TFA teachers are better than empty classrooms, sure, and those (VERY FEW) who stay get better quickly but that’s the most that can be said. They’re not a good or better replacement for certificated/dedicated teaching professionals.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Are TFA folk fully-trained teachers who are the primary classroom teacher, or do they function essentially as para educators?

          For those that advocate changes to the Virginia Constitution, I say go for it.

          I would expect GOv Youngkin to take the lead on this but I suspect he’s waiting to see if he can win both houses of the GA first.

          Such proposed changes take two ballots and usually what is being proposed gets a pretty good airing with voters, i.e. they really do end up understanding what is being proposed… including things that are bogus.

          1. Not Today Avatar

            Where deployed, they function as the teacher of record for a classroom of kids.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            And they deploy to public schools? Are they trained to the same level of most certified/licensed teachers? One of the characteristics of the CIP in Virginia is that they all train and teach to the same template and alter the template … For instance, they’ll all teach phonics in a similar way such that a replacement teacher is teaching the same way.

          3. Not Today Avatar

            Yes, they work in public schools. They receive about two months of crash course in classroom management and pedagogy plus ‘mentorship’ during their time in classrooms (which may vary in quality). There is no evidence that they know or teach phonics better than any other fully-certificated teacher. When TFA was launched, it was with the idea of sending ‘best and brightest’ students from big name schools to save the rural and urban poor. They are young, eager, and enthusiastic and there’s something to that in terms of student engagement and energy. There’s just no evidence that they’re any better than any other college grad off the street.

          4. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            Look south at the TFA programs in the Charlotte-Piedmont Triad.

            Since 2014, 30 Teach For America corps members have been nominated as Guilford County Schools (GCS) Rookie Teacher of the Year.

            If that is failure, we need more of it.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            Interesting article. thanks for posting:

            ” Who is filling the gap in teacher preparation if TFA and other legacy preparation programs are faltering? Often, a principal’s alternative to hiring from TFA is not a fully credentialed, traditionally trained teacher but rather one from a different (and much less selective) alternative route. Indeed, other alternative certification programs, especially for-profit programs, have been scaling to meet schools’ staffing demands, even as TFA has been shrinking (see figure 1). ”

            Would like to learn more about the “for profit” paths. Did not realize that for-profits were produced credentialed teachers!

          6. Not Today Avatar

            For profits are producing the same temporary and low-quality/low-retention teachers as TFA because the problem isn’t WILL or INTEREST, it’s pay and preparation.

          7. Not Today Avatar

            Yes. They are not trained to the same standards, no. What they have is eager-beaver-ness and a stronger academic foundation. That’s not nothing. It’s just not any more than other newly converted college grads who step into a classroom. It’s no secret that Colleges of Education have some of the lowest admissions standards and content mastery requirements of any major at the undergrad level. Teaching should solely be a Master’s level program with half being classroom/pedagogy study and half being in-person work. The undergrad ‘Education’ major is a scourge. People who can’t do Algebra and don’t understand Geometry shouldn’t be teaching math fundamentals to elementary kids.

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            You seem to be fairly knowledgeable. Jim Bacon does allow guest blog posts that meet his grammar standards. Might you consider it?

          9. Not Today Avatar

            Thanks, but no.

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            Well keep contributing as a commenter then… you do seem to be knowledgeable on issues discussed here that benefit from more information. thanks.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          That may be. That may be. My interaction with Teach For America volunteers has been very positive. TFA volunteers, if properly supported, gain useful on the job skills that can be immediately put to use. Perhaps more purposeful training than many of the mindless courses required for traditional teacher licensure. I do think you are correct that TFA volunteers do not stay long in challenging schools. Once credentialed, they move along to better pay and more stable learning environments.

          1. Not Today Avatar

            They don’t stay long in the profession…PERIOD, in no small part because they are underprepared, overburdened, and underpaid. TFA is a waste of money. 15% of their teachers are still in the profession 5 years on. There are MUCH, much better models for new and alternatively credentialed teachers.

          2. Not Today Avatar

            They don’t stay long in the profession…PERIOD, in no small part because they are underprepared, overburdened, and underpaid. TFA is a waste of money. 15% of their teachers are still in the profession 5 years on. There are MUCH, much better models for new and alternatively credentialed teachers.

          3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            Most credentialed teachers only last 3-5 years. Even if they are in a good school.

          4. Not Today Avatar

            And yet they’re not paid for by the district (sourced for a fee, TFA teachers are). There are better models with better returns, including PROFESSIONALIZING/respecting the profession and increasing standards accordingly. I think results are more important than ideology.

          5. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            You should give Colonel Macik a call at Fork Union and ask to visit the school to observe the One Subject Plan. It is an impressive time tested achievement. I spent 2 days there and came away convinced that this program contained the answers to many education riddles. All caps are not necessary. 20/20 vision. It detracts from your argument.
            https://www.forkunion.com/academics/one-subject-plan/

          6. Not Today Avatar

            I have a job and a family and kids and can’t do road trips for no reason but am always interested in, and interested in replicating, what actually works. Data rules. Show, not tell.

          7. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            Honey bee. There is this magic little button called block user. The only other person I have ever blocked permanently is Peter Galuska because he is a jackpot and a commie. You are in select company.

        3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          TFA is not for college graduates itching to get a start on careers. It, like Americorps and the Peace Corps, is for people motivated to give back.

          If they stay for a few years and move on we owe them thanks, not the back of your hand.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Typically in a Title 1 school for ED kids, the Reading Specialist has a Masters Degree in that specialty.

            Can someone without that certification to as well in teaching ED kids reading?

            I am skeptical.

            A lot can be said for enthusiasm and a desire to do good, but competence and skill in the area of need are also needed.

            What Success seems to do… is train up their folks in a specific way – which is GOOD and along the same lines of CIP in rural Va and perhaps with DOD schools which actually top the NAEP reading rankings.

          2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            Don’t confuse Reading Specialists with regular classroom teachers. RS help serve as resources for classroom teachers and help them with the toughest cases.

            See my comment about TFA teachers in Guilford County North Carolina schools.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            Right. My perception is that Reading Specialists are needed at Title 1 schools, which usually are designated Title 1 because of their ED populations of students.

            Locally, kids with reading deficits are often in a regular classroom but are then sent out to see the Title 1 specialist for additional help for reading.

            These Title 1 teachers have higher skills and competencies than 4-yr grads who go to classrooms.

          4. Not Today Avatar

            I am WELL AWARE of what TFA is. I was recruited for it, once upon a time, and chose a different program.

        4. Interesting that you say “They perform NO BETTER than other teachers.. ” where the link says: students perform as well or better than non-TFA teachers. What else do you have to back up your position?

          “Teach For America corps members’ students perform as well as other teachers’ students on standardized tests of math and reading. This is true when compared to both novice and experienced non-Teach For America teachers. Students of TFA alumni teachers generally perform as well as or better than students of non-TFA alumni teachers with similar experience across multiple subject areas. Research findings on TFA teachers’ instructional impact—which span multiple regions, subject areas, and grade levels—have remained consistent throughout the organization’s history, suggesting that the results are not due to chance, error, or the particular statistical method used.”

          1. Not Today Avatar

            Students of TFA Alumni teachers have also been taught by OTHER teachers. TFA is claiming responsibility for student learning that occurs after their teachers leave and/or are no longer teaching the student. The”WITH SIMILAR EXPERIENCE” is also doing a lot of heavy lifting as, ideally, teachers have significantly more experience than TFA teachers have. The spin is powerful. So too is the fact that it’s a dying effort…for a reason.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Not clear at all how they attribute what learning to TFA and what to other teachers.

            Have not seen much of anything that shows improved scores due specifically to TFAs.

            Just seems to be a “belief” like Charters… no real data just folks claiming it…

          3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            “No real data like charters?” you seem to want to make that true by repeated assertion.

            Try this and read the whole article. https://www.the74million.org/article/national-study-of-1-8-million-charter-students-shows-charter-pupils-outperform-peers-at-traditional-public-schools/

            Note the especially significant out performance of the large Charter Management Organizations (CMO’s) that I have recommended for Virginia, like KISS and Success Academy.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            THanks for the article. Looked for a link to the research .. maybe I missed it. Here is what they say: “The research team calculated that charter school students gained the equivalent of an additional 16 days of learning (based on a traditional 180-day school calendar) in English compared with similar kids at district schools. Their six-day edge in math was smaller, though still considered statistically significant.”

            throughout the article the focus seems to be on “gaining additional days” as opposed to actual academic performance comparisons.

            More than that, I’m asking for Charters that specialize in at-risk kids since that’s the claim of the proponents – that the “failures” of public schools with respect to ED kids would be fixed by Charters. As far as I can tell, there is Success and that’s pretty much it and as I’ve said before, I’d support exactly that – Charters that are restricted to ED kids AND are transparent in their results.

            Similarly with the Teach for America. Where is the evidence that it delivers better results, especially with ED kids? Where is the evidence beyond “beliefs”.

  2. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Unionize…for the children!
    (How much worse could it be?)
    You will find out.
    And the kids get cheated again.
    On the bright side for Dem grifters, though, this will keep the kids stupid enough to keep voting for Dem grifters as adults.

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        Means nothing as usual. A bunch of Haaaaavahd, MIT etc well educated people. So kids test bettter, having nothing to do with actual teaching by unionized teachers.

        1. how_it_works Avatar
          how_it_works

          That’s true. Unionizing the Manassas Park or Manassas school divisions won’t improve anything. Both of those school divisions, by the way, have greater than 40% of the students eligible for reduced price or free lunches.

      2. New York State also has one of the strongest, and largest, teachers’ unions in the country – and some of the lowest test scores.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          essentially tied with Va on NAEP, right? Massachusetts also has unions and ranks number 2. Others like New Jersey with unions also rank high.

          The main difference I see with respect to unions is not academics… but pay… states with strong unions get better teacher pay.

  3. AlH - Deckplates Avatar
    AlH – Deckplates

    In the year 2023, all of this is using an old & outdated system. That system is used to mandate the education of children, who are either recalcitrant or so moved by perceived social issues, that the basics are thrown out the window. We are still below #27 in the world.

    Why are stuck with a system which perpetuates mediocracy? Schools should have to compete for their students (customers). Unions continue to dumb down and dominate all competitive enterprises. Certainly, we can do better by overhauling the school system, so we can get what we pay for and choose what we get. The Unions, which are a dragging anchor, can only impede any kind of improvements.

  4. The resolution does not allow teachers the ability to negotiate their wages or benefits, limiting the scope of negotiations to hours and scheduling, health and safety, and work rules.

    Since school boards in Virginia do not have taxing authority it would be imprudent for them to enter into collective bargaining agreements that include wages and benefits.

    It might even be illegal.
    —————————————————–
    Addendum:

    Okay, not illegal, but if they decide to make wages and benefits negotiable, a wise school board will include a caveat such as this one which is in the Fairfax County Schools’ CBA:

    Section 3 – FCPS Rights

    The Fairfax County School Board retains full rights, authority and discretion to carry out the duties and responsibilities to control, supervise, and manage the Fairfax County Public Schools as provided under law, rule or regulation.

    1. Establish budgets or appropriation. All financial commitments on behalf of the School Board in any collective bargaining agreement will at all times be subject to, and conditioned upon, appropriation of funding by the Board of Supervisors. If a collective bargaining agreement is approved that extends beyond the current fiscal year, each year’s financial commitments will be subject to, and contingent upon, appropriations by the Board of Supervisors for that fiscal year.

  5. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
    f/k/a_tmtfairfax

    Collective bargaining means greater campaign contributions. How can that be wrong?

Leave a Reply