Here's a good story to follow as the Jefferson Federation of Teachers negotiates its new contract with the school board. Times-Picayune reporter Barri Bronston is tracking JFT's efforts to rein in the school system's interval testing program.
It is an important story because it demonstrates the power of collective bargaining to bring teachers' perspectives to education issues. While it is commonly believed that bargaining only affects salaries and benefits, partnership with the board also gives teachers a voice in their professional responsibilities.
The issue at hand is interval testing, a series of six tests that administrators feel better prepare students for standardized tests. JFT President Meladie Munch agrees that the tests may have some value, but that too much testing robs teachers of valuable classroom time.
Because of the collective bargaining agreement, the board must listen to the concerns of educators and incorporate them into policy. The contract guarantees the professionalism of professional educators.