Mat-Su Education Assn. threatens to strike over superintendent's letter to parents in district - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 22, 2021
HomeTop NewsMat-Su Education Assn. threatens to strike over superintendent’s letter to parents in district

Mat-Su Education Assn. threatens to strike over superintendent’s letter to parents in district

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The Mat-Su Education Association is upset because the superintendent of schools sent an email to all teachers detailing the facts of the contract being proposed by the Mat-Su School Board. The two sides have been bargaining for 18 months with no resolution.

Superintendent Randy Trani sent the letter to teachers so they could evaluate what they are voting on, but the union said that action was “devastating to the bargaining process and detrimental to securing a contract for Valley educators.”

“Last week, the Mat-Su Borough School Board made a ‘last, best offer’ in contract negotiations to the Mat-Su Education Association Bargaining team. Members of the team believed they would have an opportunity to evaluate the proposal, discuss the terms with its membership, and provide an answer, as well as a counteroffer if necessary. Instead, Superintendent Trani short-circuited the process by contacting every single teacher in the MSBSD with the terms of the contract and published editorial pieces in major news outlets with bias opinions,” the union wrote.

Dianne K. Shibe, President of the Mat-Su Education Association noted that the union has been bargaining in “good faith” for 18 months. “These actions erode what little good faith remained between our team and the school board. More than anything, this makes me sad that this new superintendent would blindside the educators he was hired to lead before we even had a chance to work with him.”

“If these are the tactics and practices we can expect from the superintendent and the school board, we are going to have no choice but to take decisive action,” said Shibe. “There is a lot of frustration, anger, and disappointment among our members right now. To be treated this way while also navigating teaching during a pandemic is salt in the wound.”

If the school board stands firm on its offer, the union will call a strike vote for all certificated employees, she wrote.

School board meeting on Wednesday will continue the process of discussing the negotiations. Teachers who have seen the contract should contact their school board members to let them know how they feel about the terms.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Will anyone notice they’re on strike? They are already the most overpaid “workers” in the country and cry every year because getting paid for 12 months when they only work 9 isn’t good enough.

    • Paula, their pay is spread out over 12 months so they get a check in the summer. It’s based on the number of work days. Some districts give the option of a 9 month plan or a 12. Now you know.

  • Ms. Zimmerman, I have no desire to argue or debate with you. I am not familiar with the contract the teachers in Mat-Su work under. I do, however, know that your statement about being paid 12 months for only working 9 is completely false. IF teachers in Alaska choose to receive an income for all 12 months; their salary is “shorted” each pay period to enable a check to be received during “off times”. Each teacher in Alaska is paid an annual negotiated salary with their District. That amount is for 9 months of work, not 12. If they decide they must have a paycheck for 12 months, they are deciding to take a lesser paycheck each time they are paid during the contracted school year.

    • I think what he meant is that if they chose the 12 month pay it is like getting a paid three month vacation every year. Several States outside now have school 12 months a year, with no three month vacation. I am not advocating for that as in Alaska I believe kids need to be off during our short summers, just pointing out a fact. Countries like Japan have long had year round school and the Asian countries turn out some very well educated youngsters.
      I wonder how many teachers dropped out of the Mat-Su Union? They should be able to go to work if they want. Many people have dropped from Unions, tired of 18 month negotiations that only really benefit the heads of the Unions. Maybe the Union needs to wake up. People have found out that their children might be better off homeschooled anyway. At least then parents know what their children are being taught during their formative years. A lot of parents don’t like what some Teachers and Districts are now claiming as “Education” such as “All White people are racist” and a lot of nonsense about “white privilege”. Some schools have went so far as making Children write letters apologizing for the skin color they were born with. That seems “racist” to me, confusing children who have no choice over what skin color they were born with.
      We don’t need California style teaching here and there are some districts that Parents need to pay more attention to what their child is being “ taught”. Your Children may be better served by you being able to Pick and Monitor what your Child is learning, like Real History…

      • No if you’re wrong again as usual. They get two or three months off four or five times a year and spread the year out. The amount of instructional days is the same. might be best to know what you’re talking about before you and search your foot.

      • Boy oh boy do I agree with you. They are erasing alot of our history. I think it is horrible. And you Stated my feelings percicely.

    • I should have aimed my comments at something other than the 9/12 month pay schedule. I don’t think there would be the anger with the teachers if maybe the students in the state would at least be in the top 50% nationwide instead of the bottom 2%. While the teachers are in the top 2% in money spent per student.

      • Paula,
        Poverty, drugs, sexual assualt, alcoholism, rape there is something the state of Alaska and certainly the MATSU is in the top 90% for. So please come teach the kids in MSBSD yourself and deal with the trauma that comes to school with these kids as a result. There are lots of teaching openings because no one wants to teach here!

  • Typical teacher’s union response – threatening – after 18 months of negotiations – to strike because the school district publicly informed its members (the taxpaying public) of developments so that they can provide feedback, yet proposing to do exactly the same with its membership, the teachers.
    Meanwhile pretending to care about children and education.
    Hypocrites!

  • Work for 9, paid for 12. Benefits for 12.

    Three months off to fish or play or eat more money. This is the sweetest deal in history but the Union bitches non-stop.

    Education performance drops, but not the wages/benefits.

    • Another ignorant fool not knowing what they’re talking about. Didn’t you read the upper posts? In Alaska kids get off during the summer so they can go help subsistence by working on their families fishing boats or smoking meats or berries or whatever. Benefits are deducted from teachers checks like insurance and retirement 401a donations.

    • In Texas or somewhere south, the teachers take a test yearly. Their pay is partially based on that score – at the end of the year, the students take their final exam, the salaries are based on the combination of teacher scores and the scale of the students of that particular teacher’s score.

  • Interesting. I wonder if the proposed terms EVER reach the rank and file? In this day and age, shouldn’t they see every offer and get a say on each? Collective bargaining is their right, But if I was a member I would want to see every offer that was made, so that I could make up my own mind on whether to vote for the offer or not. You have your negotiation team and reps to fight for the best deal but I thought the rank and file told them when to take the deal, not the other way around? Seems to me that’s the spirit of the process as it was intended but maybe I’m missing something.

  • Vouchers for all students. Don’t the Democrats profess to believe in “choice”?

  • Superintendents represent the board. They are administration, not teachers. The union is confused which side he is on.

  • Let them go. Will we even notice? All the homeschool children I have known are much more educated than those coming from the school system.

    • That would be because they have parents who are qualified. I have seen many public school children parents who can’t even read or write or comprehend and can’t do basic math past the 6th grade. They certainly wouldn’t be qualified to homeschool.

  • Schools would receive better marks from the public if they taught Civics and the Constitution. This is a must or the schools will continue their downward spiral as indoctrination centers that are producing nothing more than chanters and apathetic Americans..

  • This headline is misleading. I know a lot of MatSu teachers, and they want to strike because the contract offered by the district wants to impose several non-negotiables for the teachers, which the district has known about for, oh, 18 months. The Superintendent’s tactics were just the icing on the cake.

    The teachers are valuable. They work hard. The money is there (just look at the budgets). Settle the contract.

    • The teachers should negotiate with us the Public since it is who pay their Salaries. Unions are a farce and any Public Union should be disbanded. Hince the name Public.

      • By public you are referring to Federal money that is paid per student. You act like this money is coming out of your own personal checking account.

        • It does come out if my pocket in the form if property tax. Public Union employees do work for us that’s why it is called Public.

          • Typical leftist looking at the small picture. A very small percentage comes out of your checking account.

  • Unbelievable gall! Teachers have suffered no economic pain during the Covid 19 scare & have, in fact, benefitted by working less hours for the same pay. The Union’s timing could not have been worse in threatening to strike. The optics are terrible. Vouchers cannot come fast enough!

    • You are correct that many teachers made out like bandits. Got to defer student loans interest-free, car payments etc. Got to save up a pretty good wad of cash.

    • As a spouse of a teacher, I can testify that teachers are actually putting in more hours as they navigate this new landscape.
      Also, for the record, I have been a worker for both union and non-union companies. I made a fair wage in both. The only difference was the non-union companies believed in parity. The unionized workers always get scoffed at when the public believes that they know what a profession does and how much a fair compensation is. Unless you have been a teacher, mechanic, carpenter, truck driver…stay out of the conversation. You cannot say what anyone else deserves for compensation for their craft and time.

    • As a welding instructor I can tell you that we have put way more time into this, I have never worked so many overtime hours in my life to make this work for students. Trust me I’ve worked on projects all over the state and I got paid for that overtime but as a teacher I just “volunteer” that time. Trust me I won’t be teaching long with people like you saying we aren’t working hard enough and that we haven’t suffered any economic pain. You haven’t even looked at what we teachers have lost the last couple years. Its easy to be an armchair quarterback and bitch about how we have it so easy.

  • Based on her reaction, one must assume that Dianne K. Shibe, President of the Mat-Su Education Association (ie, the union), does not understand the negotiating term “last best offer.” Notwithstanding that phrase, she apparently believes there is room for more negotiations continue. When the management side puts a last best offer on the table negotiations are done. The union can accept the offer, reject the offer and continue to work under the expired contract, or strike. Management can allow the union to work under the expired contract or unilaterally implement the terms of the last best offer. Strikes are all about leverage. I fail to understand what leverage the union has in these covid times.

  • The horse has been out of the barn for a long time…I believe since the 1960s, when public servants/government employees were first allowed to unionize. My personal thoughts are that they are no longer public employees…..they answer to unions not the public..

  • To the Mat-Su Education Association for their role in assuring Alaska’s nationwide recognition as being among the most overpriced, underperforming outposts of the education industry,
    .
    To the Mat-Su Education Association for their pre-eminent role in demanding more money from the very residents who are losing lives, livelihoods, homes, and businesses to China flu;
    .
    may we offer a heartfelt, “Go to hell”.
    .
    Walk off your jobs if you must.
    .
    But, please, keep walking.
    .
    And don’t come back.

    • Absolutely, and don’t come back

    • You wouldn’t like the caliber of teacher that replaces them. Quality just isn’t there anymore like it used to be. Educated people have moved on to better jobs. Oh there might still be a few of the old guard left, people that have been in education for 15 to 20 25 years that you can benefit from their experience but for the most part new people coming up here from the lower 48 are lacking. Just my opinion from personal observation.

      • You’re right… similar observation here. Classical public education may be obsolete until Alaska’s education industry collapses under its own weight, which could happen if enough old-guard parents were persuaded that home-schooling or private schooling are preferable alternatives.

        • Homeschooling, Private practice and distant learning all have their places and are a good alternative. Bottom line is do what’s best for your child.

  • some of you don’t even have a clue about what you are saying…pure rhetoric!

    Yes, the Teachers Union sucks in a lot of ways, but everyone posting about the teachers and what they do is atrocious.

    Why don’t we defund teachers while we defund the police? How does that sound? Afteall apparently both are just evil people now a days.

    My wife is a teacher and has to work at least 55 hrs a week and since going virtual she is now pushing almost 65 hrs a week and has been given numerous other tasks not in her job description.

    She doesn’t get 3 months off. She gets an average of about 8 weeks and only gets 3 personal days during the year. Barley more time off than your job.

    She also manages the educational requirements and PARENTS (like you) of 45 children a day! I DARE you to do it for what she is compensated, or even at all…you wouldn’t do it for 100K.

    She makes less than 60K a year and she has a Masters.

    We need reasonable insights, not rhetoric.

    • Yep. We did my wife’s hourly break down once and classified people with barely any education we’re making more per hour than she was. Course she puts in 60 or 70 hours a week without any appreciation.

    • Cry us a river.
      .
      If the job’s so tough, then quit, but do not complain, not while once productive non-government, non-union people are losing their jobs, businesses, homes, livelihoods, lives because of a damned bloody government-enforced China flu hoax.
      .
      Defund the teachers’ union, that might do for a start.
      .
      Defund whatever makes Alaska’s education industry among the most expensive, worst-performing in America, that might be a start.
      .
      But threatening to walk off a job if –those same people who are losing everything– don’t fork over more money for even less product… call it virtual rhetoric, whatever works– the reasonable insight is walk off the job, don’t come back.

      • Actually we did quit and left Alaska for the good land. All the crap became not worth it anymore no matter how much they were paying us.

      • At this point, the cost to maintain the school districts has gotten so high, you could break all the classes down and teach the kids with tutors cheaper, with better results, in rented facilities. It costs $8000 bucks a year per kid for one year in the Matsu School district. In Anchorage it is even more ludicrous, at $15225 per kid. You could hire a private car and tutor for every 10 kids and teach them at home.

  • I think everyone has to wake up and face reality. Yes unions are broken but MSEA is the weakest union in the state. You are all complaining about the failing state of your school district, the one you want to serve you and your children/grandchildren. When you refuse to pay teachers a comparable wage to the rest of the state… guess what they are going to teach elsewhere (anchorage, bush, or lower 48, yes you can make more in most states adjusted for cost of living). This leaves the district hiring more 1st year teachers and teachers that don’t even have certifications. You are digging your own grave and then are going to complain about that grave in the future. I understand wanting to pay less taxes but then maybe you should look at the fire stations that are all brand new or a brand new police station or (gasp) the fact that we don’t actually pay anything besides property taxes & sales tax here.

  • I think everyone has to wake up and face reality. You are all complaining about the failing state of your school district, the one you want to serve you and your children/grandchildren. When you refuse to pay teachers a comparable wage to the rest of the state… guess what they are going to teach elsewhere (anchorage, bush, or lower 48, yes you can make more in most states adjusted for cost of living). This leaves the district hiring more 1st year teachers and teachers that don’t even have certifications. You are digging your own grave and then are going to complain about that grave in the future. I understand wanting to pay less taxes but then maybe you should look at the fire stations that are all brand new or a brand new police station or (gasp) the fact that we don’t actually pay anything besides property taxes & sales tax here.

    • But yet we pay one of the highest Property Taxes in the Country and get the worst Education for the dollars spent. Time to put standards in place and enforce the standards or the teacher gets Fired. Plain and simple if you are not producing then you should not be teaching.

      • Again I don’t understand how people can’t wake up and face reality. We don’t even rank in the top 15 of the highest property taxes. We do rank top 15 in suicide, domestic violence, alcoholism, drugs, sexual assault, sexual abuse, poverty, and more. All which show up in your schools. I am all for firing teachers when you have bodies to put in the classrooms you are firing them from. MSBSD is still looking for teachers and the school year has started.

        • I would be fine paying teachers more and I don’t think you need to raise taxes. You strip down the immense bureaucracy and the inflated den of middle management admin personnel these schools have become, and just hire talented teachers, who don’t want to indoctrinate kids, and pay them well. Then you hold them, and your school board, accountable.

      • Plain and simple is don’t blame the teachers until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Don’t blame the teachers when they call home and ask for support from the parents and the parents tell them to shove it. Don’t blame the teachers for students not doing homework or any work at all and the system being forced to promote them so the parents don’t come up and raise a stink with the administration. Bottom line is don’t blame the schools, blame the crappy parents.

      • This is the false narrative that keeps getting tossed around. The Valley schools have done nothing but improved every metric over the last 10 years and people think we are failing. If a business, organization, or any other group had improved this much it would be seen as a success but for some reason their is anger and fear about schools. These people are the best safety net and intervention for all the crime and drugs. Maybe teachers should be fired for not reaching standards but MSBSD has been doing great so you shouldn’t be too concerned.

      • Ah, you might want to check your facts about where Alaska stands in high/low property taxes. Alaska is at number 33 in high property taxes. Rhode Island is first.
        I might as well add that my 4 adult children went thru the Mat-Su School system from 6th to 12th grade. All 4 are successful adults with good jobs in a career field they love. I applaud all of their former teachers. They cared about all of their students and we cared about them.
        If you’ve never been a teacher or homeschooled your children, I can tell you from experience (homeschooled 6 years) both are tough jobs. It takes all your time but mainly discipline on the part of teachers/parent. If anyone thinks they can do a better job than our teachers, then by all means go for it. Then you won’t have to stress about our teachers, the unions or how much everyone’s getting paid.

  • So, the big complaint here is that the teachers were given more detailed information? If it wouldn’t be so expensive, it would be nice if all the property taxpayers– you know, the ones who pay for all this–were equally informed. We who pay for it should be able to see what the unions are doing.

    • That’s not how it works. There are protocols in place for negotiations and the Superintendant disregarded those. That is not good faith. If you have a leader that is not willing to exercise good faith agreements, then you don’t have a very good leader. He’s already an outsider who was hired because no one else wanted the job. He also has had personal issues that make him questionable as a leader. This is bad form no matter how you look at it.

    • Wow the fact that people are believing that teachers are striking because of a super’s letter, so ridiculous. When you can name the real reasons it makes a lot more sense. Trust me the super and his huge raise is not being complained about. Teacher retirement gutted, teacher benefits gone, teacher pay stagnated. These people can’t afford to stay, they are required to take on school debt because they can’t pay with their salaries and yet no one comes to help them. Regardless that graduation and test scores have increased, no one seems to notice.

  • The over riding fact that should be considered by these people is that, if you are getting a paycheck at all right now, smile, smile , smile, and STFU. There are plenty of people that have No job, No paycheck, and No prospects. It is ludicrous to expect taxpayers to come up with even more money right now, with the state finances in disarray and the oilfield on pause, and the government shutdown of the economy over a VIRUS, for Pete’s sake. I find it telling that the educators can’t seem to see the ramifications of what has occurred here and the total disregard for the effects of their wants on the people paying the bill.

    • I bet you are thinking I wish I had gone to college and got teacher certified. All those years of low pay finally paid off.

  • Teachers have been working without a contract for a year and a half. The strike has nothing to do with the letter. Its unfortunate that the new super decided to bypass the negotiating team that has been doing the work for `18 months. This title is completely misleading.

    Teachers have improved graduation and test scores for the last 7 years and all they hear is people complain. They have taken pay cuts and lost benefits while all the other big districts are 10 to 15% more. On top of that they are required more schooling that costs them personal money and the paychecks are not keeping pace with the required schooling.

  • We keep hearing how great the teachers are in the MATSU but no one wants to give a breakdown on how wonderful the graduation rate is or if the kids can read by the time they graduate. Sounds like those poor underpaid teachers have spread the word to have their spouses write a comment on MRAK about how important the teachers are and how stupid the parents are.

  • Seriously, the only reason the union would get triggered over the deal being sent to all teachers is because they clearly don’t share everything with the very teachers they represent! There’s no other reason. Wake up, unions are a waste!

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