Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Little Rock teachers reject contract proposal; vote no confidence in superintendent

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 9:24 PM

click to enlarge NO CONFIDENCE: Cathy Koehler says teacher morale low.
  • NO CONFIDENCE: Cathy Koehler says teacher morale low.
About 200 members of the Little Rock Education Association met tonight and voted unanimously to reject a contract proposal from the Little Rock School District, according to union president Cathy Koehler.

The same group voted, with one dissent, in a "no confidence" vote in Superintendent Dexter Suggs, only on the job since summer. The contract is only part of teachers' unhappiness. Koehler cited an inability to have conversations with the superintendent about issues, as the group had had with past superintendents. "I would love to have a real conversation with him," she said. But most union concerns go unanswered or are met with monosyllabic answers, she said.

The district has said it couldn't afford more than a 1.5 percent raise for teachers this year. That won't be enough to cover health insurance cost increases for many, teachers say. Teachers contend Suggs has added enough new assistant principal and special assignment teacher jobs to pay for another 1 percent increase, given a $39 million district surplus.

The district and union will now go to a federal mediator to continue contract discussions.

Koehler said the no-confidence vote wasn't a signal that the union wanted Suggs replaced. She said the teachers understood the district and the community didn't need another superintendent change at this juncture after years of turmoil. But she said she hoped it would provoke a discussion and encourage the School Board to exert some influence on more useful leadership by Sugg.

Among complaints from teachers, Koehler listed:

* A year-opening "bus speech" by Suggs to teachers in which he said some would be thrown off the bus and some should have been thrown off before he arrived. It set a combative tone, she said.

* The "We Promise" district publicity campaign. Teachers feel it suggests they'd been not committed to kids and education before Suggs arrived.

* Inconsistent enforcement of discipline, with some administrators not backing up teachers on disruptive students.

* A plan to put iPads in several of the district's more affluent schools — such as Forest Park, Roberts, Otter Creek and Gibbs — rather than needy schools where many more children had no computer access at home.

* Reorganization of Geyer Springs and Forest Heights schools with little information to teachers who are there now about future plans.

She said a survey of teachers found about 66 percent with low morale. She cited a lack of collegiality with the administration.

She faulted the School Board, too, for not asking more tough questions about some of Suggs' proposals.

I've tried to get a message to Suggs for response.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Maddie's Place makes a believer out of a skeptic

    After a long hiatus, I return to Maddie's Place in Riverdale and find the food is a lot tastier than I remembered.
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • Speaking of the Clinton Foundation: Returns in maize and beans

    A reporter for Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, sent a reporter to Africa to see where money given to the Clinton Foundation has been put to work. He found tangible results.
    • Sep 6, 2016
  • Matt Campbell files ethics complaint against Dennis Milligan

    Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell, whose knack for deep research brought down Mark Darr, Mike Maggio and Dexter Suggs, now has his sights trained on another worthy target. Today, he filed a 113-page ethics complaint against state Treasurer Dennis Milligan that includes 14 separate allegations.
    • Aug 20, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation