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The Role of Unions in Public Education
The Role of Unions in Public Education

AIR DATE: August 13, 2012

The Clark County School District has been locked in a bitter battle with the county teachers union over contract stipulations this year. Earlier this summer an arbitrator ruled the district had the money to pay for pay increases to teachers. That decision forced the district to issue more than 400 pink slips.

The Libertarian Nevada Policy Research Institute has also tried to drive a wedge between teachers and the unions by urging teachers to opt out of their union contracts. As the district struggles to keep classroom sizes from getting bigger, what role does the union play in making sure teachers are protected? We talk with Clark County Education Association President, Ruben Murillo.

Correction: The 59.37 percent graduation rate figure cited for Clark County Schools in the program is a four year cohort graduation rate. The measurement accounts for movement of all students entering high school in a given year and determines how many graduate with a regular high school diploma in four years, adjusting for the students who transfer in and out. Program Host Luis Hernandez cited this figure as the graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year and said there was a discrepancy between the state and county figures. Clark County School District has made a preliminary estimate that the graduation rate for 2011-2012 is 65 percent. There is, in fact, no discrepancy between graduation rates calculated by the State of Nevada and the Clark County School District.



Ruben Murillo, President, Clark County Education Association

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    comments powered by Disqus

    Take a look at who makes the money in the CCSD. Also, compare teachers to other public employees!

    me againAug 10, 2012 09:58:32 AM
    Also, this district needs to stop routinely passing kids who are not prepared on to the next grade. NO WONDER THEY DROP OUT. THEY CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE CURRICULUM. IT IS CRAZY! IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS FOR TEACHERS; LITTLE TO NONE FOR STUDENTS - and that includes behavior, not just academics. And this district coddles not just the students, but even the craziest of the parents. HELP. The journalists of this city need to do what journalists should do. TALK TO MORE TEACHERS. Being neutral and detached as journalists when terrible working conditions are routine is not helpful. Our lack of good journalism here is seriously part of the problem with the schools. (I'm not particularly aiming this at KNPR, of course; we all know the vicious and shortsighted RJ is just terrible.) Good cities to live in have good newspapers and journalists.
    me againAug 10, 2012 09:49:09 AM
    CCEA has a LOT in actions we will be implementing to help teachers regain their voice, morale and stand within our profession this upcoming year. More than ever, teachers need to realize that what has happened in the past with previous presidents and board of directors with CCEA are no longer. Changes have been coming in waves, but after this last year of struggles to attain a decent contract, I see that CCEA will hold back no longer because the teachers will not hold back any longer. If we UNITE, we can make BIG changes happen!
    Karlana KulsethAug 10, 2012 10:05:43 AM
    The sense I get from my teacher friends is that the district and too often their own principals view them as adversaries. As the commenter above indicated, I hear a lot of stories of principals bullying teachers, and it seems like every step the district is taking with the teachers is aimed at reducing morale and pushing teachers out of the profession. What steps is the union taking to stand up for teachers in the face of administrative bullying and morale reducing efforts?
    JacobAug 10, 2012 09:39:22 AM
    At the RA this year the assembly passed NBI 38 which deals with adminstrators' bullying teachers and other school personel. If you want to know a little more about it, send me an email and I will send you some information about it. I am sorry for the harrasment you and your colleagues have suffered. Now your association can give you real help.
    Sergio FloresAug 11, 2012 00:33:21 AM
    Interesting you say that, Sergio, because my teacher friends tried to get from CCEA and were told the union couldn't do anything about it. This happened at a school where over a third of the teachers transferred or retired because the principal was bullying them. What you're saying sounds great, but from what I've seen and heard, it's just lip service from a union that is still viewed as very weak and unresponsive to teacher concerns.
    JacobAug 13, 2012 12:49:28 PM
    Without the union, I would not have a voice, I would not have someone representing my place in this profession when it comes to my salary and working conditions. I am a strong union member because I choose to advocate for my profession, my colleagues, and my students. ALL teachers should speak up and unite to work towards better pay, better working conditions, and developing quality education for our students through collaboration. I choose to be a union member because I want to be able to have a voice that will be strong in representation when it comes to the decisions and issues the district imposes upon us teachers that we do not agree with or feel are necessary to implement within our schools, classrooms, and curriculum
    Karlana KulsethAug 10, 2012 09:38:29 AM
    That's how I felt early on, but after several years of Holloway and Jasonek, no more. Now I'm watching. One thing I've realized is that the union exists by virtue of our lawmakers. The CCEA did not invent itself; it is not grassroots. The CCEA has existed whether it's good or terrible. We need a union that is real; that exists because teachers keep it existing no matter what legislators do or say. It's a little ironic that the union is getting better as its cushy relationship with the district wanes and the district attacks it. Now the union people know a little more about how teachers have felt at least since No Child Left Behind.
    previous posterAug 10, 2012 09:55:19 AM
    So explain to me how Dwight Jones makes $391,000 a year while our previous superintendent Walt Rulffes went from making $304,000 to $291,000 in his last year, even giving himself a 20% pay cut because of the hard economic times. In that same time period I have gone down $4,200 in salary. LAUSD Superintendent makes $330,000 but asked to lower his to $264,000. NYSD Chancellor makes $212,614. Chicago's makes $250,000. Miami-Dade County makes $275,000. Can someone explain this to me?!? And instead we are talking about the salary of the union. What about the salary of the public officials?
    JoshAug 10, 2012 09:37:03 AM
    That is an excellent question that has been asked at several school board meetings. Notice that TEACHERS and SUPPORT STAFF have taken the cuts. Higher administrators outside of our school sites have yet to step and publicly state they will take a pay cut, not has any expenditures have shown this change as well.
    Karlana KulsethAug 10, 2012 09:40:15 AM
    Working conditions here are terrible. The contract puts no limits on the amount of work we have to do, and many teachers are working an average of about seventy hours a week (of which the public is unaware). Many of us are chronically stressed and walking on eggshells. We live in fear, and are under attack from the government, not to mention administrators, students, and parents. THERE IS MUCH BULLYING BY ADMINISTRATORS - LOTS - and there are many administrators who just aren't too bright. I dropped the union several years ago. Mary Ella Holloway did less than nothing for teachers when the boom was going on, and other state workers were raking it in, then took a cushy job with the district. She was followed by John Jasonek, who used his position to make a lot of money with the CTE program, apparently. (His wife was rumored to have been involved I am now on the fence, watching. The CCEA is the best it has been in the decade I've been a teacher, but I'm not totally sold yet. The working conditions here are truly awful. Every day I wonder how I can get out of the classroom. The stress is taking its toll on my health. Incidentally, many school police make 100K+
    I don't give my name for fear of retribution.Aug 10, 2012 09:34:05 AM
    At the RA this year the assembly passed NBI 38 which deals with adminstrators' bullying teachers and other school personel. If you want to know a little more about it, send me an email and I will send you some information about it. I am sorry for the harrasment you and your colleagues have suffered. Now your association can give you real help.
    Sergio FloresAug 11, 2012 00:30:27 AM
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