In a major statement of policy and goals, the D.C. Board of Education yesterday revealed proposals for a new teachers' contract that would require teachers to work longer days, work a longer year, and attend more parent-teacher meetings. And it would reduce teachers' say in how schools are run.
The Washington Teachers Union, meanwhile, in proposals submitted Monday, has asked for faster resolution of problems teachers have with administrators, for procedures that would make it easier for an "agency fee" requiring all teachers, to pay union dues, even nonunion members.
William Simons, president of the teachers' union, said Tuesday that the union, which has so far presented only about half its contract proposals, will also ask for new limits on class size, more classroom supplies, including textbooks, and new restrictions on the operation of "open space" classrooms.
Conrad Smith, president of theschool board, has said, that the board intends to regain concessions made to the union in previous contracts. The board's goal, according to Smith, is to get better results from teachers who are the highest paid in the metropolitan area, who work the shortest school year, and whose students have some of the lowest test scores in the nation, even when compared to students in other big cities.
The union's position in the upcoming bargaining will be thatteachers are pleased with their present contract and wantthe materials and money necessary to improve their classroom efforts, according to Simons.
"We're saying 'provideus with the tools and we'll get the job done,'" Simons said as he sat in his ninth-floor office, looking out of wall-sizes window panes.
"If society really wants quality education for kids they can have it, we could have it," Simons said, "but it cost money.
"But you have to understand we really don't want a literate, educated population because we really don't need it to survive," Simons added, suddenly reaching across his desk to gesture. "The waywe're doing it now some people are making it and some people are not and that's all right with the people who are making it. . .Properly educating people costs money and this city, this nation, doesn't have the will to do that."
Simons said he was not making excuses for the failings of teachers in his union but was "sick and tired" of having the school system's problems blamed on teachers.
The board, through its proposals, and its members have made it clear that they feel they are not getting their dollar's worth for 'the money' they now pay teachers.
Under the board's proposals teachers would have to work 200 school days instead of the 186 days agreed to under the old contract. In addition, the teachers' school day would be lengthened from a six-hours day with a one-hour lunch period to a seven-hour day with a one-hour lunch period.
The board's proposals are include an article that would limit teacher grievances against administrators to violations of the contract between teachers and the board. Teachersnow can begin a grievance procedure against the board on the basis of any complaint against an administrator.
The board's proposals also would reduce the authority of theSchool Chapter Advisory Committee. The committee, which worked with principals to create administrative policy at each school under the old contract, would be reduced to the role of an advisory group with no authority to challenge principals.