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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Faking it for the Feds, Abercrombie Prepares to Impose Another ‘Last, Best, and Final Offer’ on HSTA
By Andrew Walden @ 1:34 PM :: 6693 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

by Andrew Walden

With one week until US Department of Education officials arrive in Hawaii to evaluate the Hawaii DoE’s progress in implementing Race to the Top, The HSTA and the Abercrombie administration have fallen into name calling and finger pointing.

Abercrombie yesterday rejected a February 28th HSTA contract proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance.”

HSTA boss Wil Okabe responds, "If the governor is interested in not listening to what the teachers have to say, then he should have told us that."

This is a sure sign that a deal is in the works and they are both in on it.

At the center of the fight are the teacher accountability measures demanded by RTTT. Abercrombie’s March 19 statement claims:

“We have made a settlement offer to HSTA that reflects the pilot performance-based evaluation system which includes student outcomes. This system, as proposed, incorporates protocols that prevent arbitrary personnel consequences. This offer also includes improving the probation and evaluation system for teachers that will be hired in the future.

The HSTA—backed by a Ward Research rent-a-poll—says the earlier January 19th contract rejection vote came because the contract proposal, “lacked detailed (sic) on how teachers would be evaluated.”

At stake is $75M of Federal money. At issue is the ability of the Hawaii DoE and the HSTA to fake accountability just enough to snag the dough and walk away laughing.

The Advertiser reports that the HSTA proposal was for six years and would have cost the State $330M.

After rejecting the HSTA proposal, the Abercrombie administration is presenting a counter-proposal which it claims:

“… reflects the pilot performance-based evaluation system which includes student outcomes. This system, as proposed, incorporates protocols that prevent arbitrary personnel consequences. This offer also includes improving the probation and evaluation system for teachers that will be hired in the future.”

In an echo of the Abercrombie administration’s earlier imposition of a ‘best, last, and final offer’, the Advertiser report implies a new settlement imposition:

Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokes­woman for the governor, said the settlement offer was "not a counterproposal" and was not meant as an invitation for talks.

"It seeks to settle this immediately," she said.

Obviously this contract is designed to get the federal money and then be overturned by one of the HSTA’s wholly-owned State judges—a two-step play which akamai observers will remember was previously used to eliminate negotiated drug testing from an HSTA contract.

Okabe ends up looking good to his membership, Abercrombie can claim he saved RTTT, the DoE gets $75M, and a judge will wipe the contract slate clean as soon as the Feds release the money. This explains why the HSTA has been dragging its HLRB case so long.

The only remaining question was posed by the Chicago Tribune January 8: Will the Obama administration be “chumped” by the Hawaii DoE/BoE/HSTA?

---30---

Link: Chicago Tribune: Yank Hawaii's Race To The Top Grant

 

Abercrombie Rejects HSTA Contract Proposal

News Release from www.hawaii.gov/gov

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has announced the state has responded to the proposal by Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) with a settlement offer.

The state’s offer is not in agreement with the latest HSTA proposal.

Abercrombie issued the following statement:

“The HSTA proposal is fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance. It is a priority of this Administration to engage in collective bargaining that is financially sound and advances student achievement and support for teachers in the classroom.

“We have made a settlement offer to HSTA that reflects the pilot performance-based evaluation system which includes student outcomes. This system, as proposed, incorporates protocols that prevent arbitrary personnel consequences. This offer also includes improving the probation and evaluation system for teachers that will be hired in the future.

“Our focus remains making an education transformation that is necessary to ensure better learning in the classroom for all students.

“We look forward to HSTA accepting this settlement offer.”

* * * * *

In response, HSTA leaders issued this reply:

Friends of Public Education:

Please see the following letter below in response to the Governor’s disappointing public statements about teachers.

Mr. Neil Dietz

Chief Negotiator

Office of Collective Bargaining

235 South Beretania St., 14th Floor

Honolulu, HI 968113

Dear Mr. Dietz:

Re: HSTA’s Bargaining Proposal for a New Collective Bargaining Agreement

On January 19th, 2012, teachers overwhelmingly rejected a tentative settlement because among other things, it lacked detailed (sic) on how teachers would be evaluated.

On January 20th, 2012, Governor Abercrombie asked the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) for a new proposal. In our genuine effort to give a proposal that addressed key concerns of teachers, the HSTA took two weeks to reach out to our 13,000 teachers in every school to gain feedback. We took another one and one-half weeks to review teacher feedback forms and create a new comprehensive proposal to secure a contract for six years. This comprehensive proposal also took into account the financial condition of the State now as projected by the Council on Revenues going forward through 2017. We delivered this new proposal to you on February 28th, 2012 asking for bargaining dates.

Meanwhile, HSTA successfully negotiated an agreement for extended learning time for the schools in the Race to the Top Zones of Innovation and the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind.

On March 16th, 2012, we received a response from DOE’s Negotiations Administrator on behalf of the Employer, of an offer to settle the teachers’ contract. While we are disappointed in the Governor’s public response to the teachers’ proposal, we request a meeting to address the Employer’s settlement offer and also the HSTA’s comprehensive proposal. Again, the HSTA’s negotiating team is available for negotiations meetings based on the Governor’s availability.

Yours truly,

Wil Okabe

HSTA President

* * * * *

Coverage:

AP: Hawaii Gov: Teachers' union proposal irresponsible

SA: HSTA wants to talk

The back-and-forth bodes poorly for hopes that a settlement with teachers could be reached by next week, when U.S. Department of Education reviewers will be in the islands to gauge the state's progress on its Race to the Top goals.

There have been no talks between the state and HSTA since teachers overwhelming rejected a six-year proposed contract Jan. 19….

In a statement Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called HSTA's proposal "fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance."

The HSTA offer has also been kept private, but sources said the offer would have cost the state more than $330 million…..

Okabe said the HSTA proposal was for a six-year contract. "We believe our proposal is not fiscally irresponsible. According to the Council on Revenues, the economy is steadily improving," he said. "We shouldn't have to apologize for trying to improve the situation for teachers."

Okabe also said, "If the governor is interested in not listening to what the teachers have to say, then he should have told us that."

Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokes­woman for the governor, said the settlement offer was "not a counterproposal" and was not meant as an invitation for talks.

"It seeks to settle this immediately," she said.

 

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