Negotiating Away Barriers to Educational Opportunity: By Involving Principals in Planning for Negotiations, Districts Can Better Address the Important Operational and Instructional Issues That Will Help Schools Meet Their Student Achievement Goals

By Ingram, Ruben L. | Leadership, January-February 2004 | Go to article overview

Negotiating Away Barriers to Educational Opportunity: By Involving Principals in Planning for Negotiations, Districts Can Better Address the Important Operational and Instructional Issues That Will Help Schools Meet Their Student Achievement Goals


Ingram, Ruben L., Leadership


There is a paradox in negotiating agreements between the governing board and the unions. After wrangling for months over the terms and conditions, a tentative agreement is reached. Normally, the governing board accepts the tentative agreement, and then by a vote of the membership, the union agrees.

The district now has labor peace for a defined period of time, and there is an audible sigh of relief from the board, the staff and the community. All parties hail the agreement as a boon to morale and clear sailing that will benefit students and the educational program.

There are only two things wrong with this picture. First, it would be a very unusual agreement that addressed any aspect of student achievement and increased educational opportunities. Second, the principals and site administrators who are responsible for the success of the educational program, the increased measures of accountability and the proper implementation of the contract may or may not have been consulted prior to and during the negotiations.

The interim report of the California State Legislature's Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education found that "the large amount of time and energy spent on negotiations of salaries and benefits often leaves local boards and their administrative staffs struggling to adequately address other important operational and instructional issues." Interestingly, this language was deleted from the final report.

A report from American Educational Research Association found that using principals as consultants and seeking their input during the negotiations process caused them to use greater discretion in managing their sites and programs than in districts where their input was not used (DeMitchell, 1996).

The issue of linking negotiations to student achievement and increased educational opportunities was discussed in a previous issue of Leadership magazine (Ingram, May/June 2003). This author stated, "Parents, citizens and elected officials must be encouraged and trained to address the instructional and educational issues that are slighted or ignored at the bargaining table."

The paradox is that in those instances when principals were not consulted prior to settlement of an agreement, it is they who must manage the instructional and educational program within a rigid set of work rules and negotiated processes and procedures that often are real barriers to meeting district goals and accountability measures. Yet, these are the leaders who could tell us at the beginning where those barriers are in the contracts and proposals.

A review of just two studies in two areas helps define those barriers: evaluating low-performing teachers and rigid work rules.

Evaluating low-performing teachers

Suzanne Painter recently asked elementary and middle school principals in Oregon and Arizona to identify barriers to evaluating teachers and improving their school and its programs (Painter, 2001). One of the major barriers identified was in evaluating low-performing teachers. Note that the barrier was not evaluating all teachers, but specifically the low-performing ones. The principals in the study cited teacher tenure laws, time constraints, teacher unions and collective bargaining as the major impediments to doing the job.

In California, the tenure laws are in statute rather than in negotiated agreements. For many years, principals had three years in which to observe probationary teachers and make a decision regarding whether or not to recommend them for tenure. In 1983, SB 813 changed that to two years, and as all administrators know, you are really looking at a year and a half because a decision has to be made in the middle of the second year in preparation for the March 15 deadline for giving notice.

In the last legislative session, AB 954 (D-Goldberg) was passed and signed into law. It allows for principals and competent, experienced teachers to agree on holding performance appraisals once every five years, as long as both parties agree.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Negotiating Away Barriers to Educational Opportunity: By Involving Principals in Planning for Negotiations, Districts Can Better Address the Important Operational and Instructional Issues That Will Help Schools Meet Their Student Achievement Goals
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.