Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Education

February 26, 2011

Bargaining rights for teachers in danger

Some say they help the students, others say it’s all about money.

(Continued)

Northwestern Superintendent Ryan Snoddy said there are some positives and negatives to collective bargaining. He said even without bargaining working conditions into a contract, he would want to provide the best conditions possible.

Northwestern High School teacher Dan Robinson said the teachers’ working conditions are also the students’ learning conditions, so it is not adult-focused to bargain their working conditions.

“Any parent would say if the classroom is 50 degrees, the students aren’t going to learn. If the classroom in the summer is 100 degrees, the students aren’t going to learn. Common sense says the working situation in the building creates the learning atmosphere, and the atmosphere is important. We have great kids, and we have a great learning environment,” which he said was created through bargaining.

Robinson noted that Gov. Mitch Daniels mentioned contracts that specify what color the teachers’ lounge is painted, and said that kind of contract is an anomaly.

He was not surprised by the move to take away collective bargaining rights from teachers, he said, because Daniels did the same thing to state workers early in his first term.

“This is about money,” Robinson said. “The largest percentage of the state budget is for education. If we can’t bargain effectively, he can control that money effectively.”

Kokomo Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said while he thinks there should be a more clear definition of working conditions, and a balance between labor and management so changes can be made, “I think this will best be accomplished through open dialogue and work at the local level. I am proud of the good working relationship between Kokomo-Center Schools leadership and the Kokomo Teachers Association leadership.”

• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at 765-454-8585 or danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com.

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