10/4/07

Baltimore teachers picket after school

Parents of children at one Baltimore City school may have noticed something unusual when they picked their children up Wednesday afternoon, teachers walking on a picket line.

Gigi Barnett reports - teachers at Patterson High School are upset with their contract situation.

Teachers say they've waited for months for a contract, so for the next few days they will picket. Wednesday was the day they decided to start; it was the first protest, but it won't be the last. The demand is loud and clear. The picket line was the result of months of contract negotiations between city teachers and school leaders. They're at an impasse.

"This is planning time that belongs to teachers that we have worked for, negotiated. It is in our agreement, and we're going to keep it," said BTU President Marietta English.

What teachers want is their 45 minute planning period to themselves, but the school system says no contract until teachers agree to spend that time at least once a week planning in group sessions.

"People need to work together and learn together to respond to the problems of the job. I don't see how adults can get better at what they're doing without actually coming together and discussing the complexity of the job," said City School CEO Dr. Andres' Alonso.

But teachers on this picket line say no way.

"They can do it in certain schools, gotta be able to do it across the system, and why can't we sit down in a committee and work that out," said English.

Teachers promised to picket this week, and they made good on it right after school. By law city teachers are not allowed to strike, but they can demonstrate before and after school.

The next step in this process is for both sides, the city school system as well as the Teachers' Union to choose a mediator to take over the process.

Teachers will picket at two other city schools this week.

(wjz.com)

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