[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #2

In my last post, I addressed what I suspect is a pending grievance against the district on the merits.  In this post, I am going to address Rick Alexander’s letters to the School Board on what I think is the same topic.

So, the actual letters (the PDF can be found here).  I am going to try and unpack only the first one in this post and save the second for another post, because holy cow there is a lot going on here.  First:

The Superintendent recently made a comment to me that he intends to grieve the provision in the Teachers Contract which gives the classroom teacher control of a student’s grade.

I am going to assume that what this really means is that Lanning is going to fight the grievance filed by the LEA on this matter, which I have been told has been or is being filed.  (This would also make sense given the nature of the incident as it was related to me.)  I was not aware that an employer can grieve an existing contract provision in labor-management situations (though I am willing to be corrected).

Whether we agree with this provision or not, this provision was the subject of a good faith bargaining effort and we have an obligation to stand behind our agreements. Grieving a provision, simply because we have changed our mind or have a new administration, makes a mockery of our contracts and the negotiation process that creates them….Just as a matter of good practice, we should honor our contracts.  If we feel that a provision is important enough to challenge, then that should only be done after careful deliberation and after input from all parties concerned. It should not be done as an administrative whim.

A few things:  First, while it’s true Alexander did not oppose Robinson on a ‘whim’ – a half-decade campaign does take some dedication – does anyone believe Alexander has a fucking shred of credibility when it comes to honoring contracts? This is a guy who directly undermined Robinson’s contract when he got him placed on administrative leave with no warning and no cause, undermined it in spirit (if not in letter) when he failed to evaluate Robinson, and sure as hell undermined any ‘good faith’ toward the contract with dozens of other statements and actions over the years.

The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that he simply views administrative contracts (and the classified staff contract) differently than he views the collective bargaining agreement with teachers (i.e. he respects only the contract of the licensed staff) – if true, this action of Alexander’s should send LACE through the roof.  I hope they field a candidate for the School Board in the next election.  (As a side note, it was suggested to me that said candidate be a classified staff person that lives in Lebanon but works in another district.  I like this idea.)

More likely, however, is that Alexander doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the statement he signed his name is completely contradicted by his actions.

Also, can Alexander say with any credibility that something needs ‘careful deliberation and input from all parties concerned’?  This is completely opposite from how he has acted for years – springing things on board members and district administrators with no warning, refusing attempts to slow things down to allow for careful deliberation, and purposefully denying certain parties (Robinson, Sprenger) the ability to weigh in on a change he wanted to make.  In other words, Alexander is only pushing good governance when it suits his purposes.  This is absolutely sleazy of him and shows a tremendous level of disrespect towards everyone else in the district, from the district administration to the teachers to parents to a concerned public.

Aside from the contractual issues, administrative control of grades, without teacher input, is just plain bad public policy.

Since when was this actually being proposed?  This is what’s called strawman fallacy – the author of the letter (I like LT’s use of the term ‘ghost writer’ for this) is arguing against a proposal that no one has actually made (or probably intends to make).  In other words, it’s like beating a scarecrow in hand-to-hand combat.

I agree that the subject of grades needs to be addressed. Currently, they are not standardized. and there is too broad a range between easy and hard grading teachers. This however, is a matter that requires a great deal of study and open discussion. Any changes to our grading policy must, of necessity, require input from the teachers and be the subject of good faith bargaining.

This doesn’t sound like Alexander at all, either in tone or content.  Does anyone even believe this is him?  In regards to the content of the statement, while I agree that the difference between a hard and easy grader can be problematic from a public policy point of view, I simply don’t trust Alexander (or Wineteer, for that matter) to not screw up something so important.

Our integrity as a public entity, demands that we honor our word when given.

If Alexander even believes this, he’s already sank the integrity of the district.  Please.

Finally, some comments on the overall letter:  First, this ignores the normal chain that something like this should be taking – i.e. from the teacher to Finch to Lanning and possibly then to the board.  Given that this alleged incident might involve Finch, I can understand going Lanning.  Well, I can understand the teacher going to Lanning (which may also be happening, of course).  But I see no conceivable way to justify someone writing a letter, having Alexander put his name to it and then going straight to the Board with something so drastic, especially since the letter itself pretends to take the high road – despite the letter being delivered on a very low road in comparison.

Or maybe I do.  This is vintage Alexander – no respect for process, no respect for the opinion of anyone he doesn’t alredy agree with, and no sense of a solution proportional to the problem.

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