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One, two, three, what they’re fighting for

The Santa Monica-Malibu residents have always been extremely generous and supportive of teachers and education. Passing the local facilities bond is their most recent demonstration of that support. I want to use this opportunity to explain our negotiations impasse.

During contract negotiations, the association responded to the board’s proposal to add 60 minutes to the kindergarten day by requesting that the “Restructuring/Educational Reform Plans” in the contract be used.

The reform and restructuring process has been a cornerstone of the district’s philosophy for approximately 10 years. It was proposed by the district. This process is used for proposals that impact teaching and learning in our schools. The district wanted teachers to be part of decision-making in order to ensure success for their students’ schedules and programs.

Last year when the board wanted to reduce kindergarten class size to 20:1, limited space was an issue. Kindergarten teachers across the district came together to implement this reform process by discussing ways to make class-size reduction happen. It was somewhat risky to have teachers who work at different schools come together, to get comfortable, and to feel safe in sharing opinions and ideas. After some frustration, they compromised and voted for the board’s proposal to reduce instructional time and to share classrooms for the class-size reduction program.

Why would the board want to negotiate a reform rather than follow the existing contract language on the restructuring reform process? Is it too risky for them? Why would the board package kindergarten reform with a salary proposal? This is not collaborative bargaining.

I take pride in the fact that the association has been building a relationship with community and the board over many years. We ask the board to provide us with the time necessary to develop a sound program so that kindergarten students can reach the educational standards we have established.

We ask the board to allow a free and open consultation process with the kindergarten teachers without linking the outcome to a salary proposal. The reform process should have nothing to do with salary proposals.

Beth Muir,

president,

Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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