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John Matthews: Why Madison Prep proposal is unacceptable to teachers union

John Matthews: Why Madison Prep proposal is unacceptable to teachers union

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John Matthews
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews

The Urban League proposes that Madison Prep be operated as a non-instrumentality of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Urban League's proposal is unacceptable to Madison Teachers Inc., because it would effectively eliminate supervision and accountability of the school to the Madison School Board regarding the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars, and because it would also violate long-standing terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement between the school district and MTI.

The Urban League proposes to use district funds to hire non-district teaching staff at lower salaries and benefits than called for in the collective bargaining agreement. It was recently stated in a meeting involving representatives of Madison Prep, the school district and MTI that the Urban League plans to hire young African-American males and asks that MTI and the district enable them to pay the teachers they hire less than their counterparts who are employed by the district. MTI cannot agree to enable that. We believe that such is discriminatory, based both on race and gender. The MTI/MMSD contract calls for teachers to be compensated based upon their educational achievement and their years of service. MTI and MMSD agreed in the early 1970s that the district would not enable such undermining of employment standards. The costing of the contract salary placement was explained by both Superintendent Dan Nerad and me. Those explanations were ignored by the Urban League in their budgeting, causing a shortfall in the proposed operational budget, according to the superintendent.

It is also distasteful to MTI that the Urban League proposes to not additionally pay their proposed new hires for working a longer day and a longer school year. Most employees in the United States receive overtime pay when working longer hours. The Urban League proposes NO additional compensation for employees working longer hours, or for the 10 additional school days in their plan.

Finally, the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that MTI and the district could modify the MMSD/MTI contract without triggering Act 10, Gov. Scott Walker's draconian attack on teachers and other public employees. The contract would be destroyed if MTI and the district agreed to amend it. Such is caused by Walker's law, Act 10. MTI is not willing to inflict the devastating effects of Act 10 on its members. The Urban League states that Walker's Act 65 would enable the contract to be amended without the horrible impact caused by Act 10. That claim is unfounded and in error.

The Madison Prep proposal could easily be implemented if it followed the charter plan of Wright School, Nuestro Mundo, and Badger Rock School, all of which operate as instrumentalities of the district, under its supervision and the MMSD/MTI collective bargaining agreement.

John Matthews is executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.

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