The table is (almost) set: MMSD handbook process (and a few other things)

Thomas Nast, “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner,” Harper’s Weekly,
November 20, 1869.

Wilbert Harrison, “Lets-Work-Together, Part1” (click to listen or download).

It has been a busy week, so this is a late and short update on the Madison Metropolitan School District Employee Handbook process.  The news is good.

One of the things keeping me busy has been joining others in support of the fundamental rights to free speech and assembly against the unprecedented attacks directed  by new Capitol Police Chief Davidl Erwin.  You can read all about that via the excellent coverage by the Wisconsin Citizen’s Media Cooperative; ; you can show your support by joining the Solidarity Sing Along, every day at Noon at the Capitol.  Please do.

Last I wrote about the Handbook process, the MMSD default position was that the drafting would be done by a work group composed exclusively of administrators, with input from other staff being limited.  At a special Wednesday meeting, Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore provided more information on this vision of the process, and Board Member Arlene Silveira offered a  much more inclusive alternative, with seats at the adult table for diverse staff  (click the links to see the documents, I do not believe these have been posted on the MMSD web site).  Silveira’s proposal clearly had the support of a majority of the Board (you can watch here).  There are details to be worked out and in their only formal action that evening the Board directed Silveira and Board Member Ed Hughes to meet with Belmore to work out those details and bring them back to the Board.  This could happen as soon as Monday, 9/17.  Good news.  As Board Member Maya Cole pointed out, this is a definitional moment, what we do makes  a statement about who we are in the context of Act 10 and other threats to public education and democracy by the Fitzwalker gang.    So far, I’m proud of who we are being.

Two related events this weekend (this is all related, including the things going on at the Capitol).   Today (Friday 9/14/2012) there will be a “Solidarity Rally for the Chicago Teachers Union Strike” at the Capitol at 5:00 PM.  Fighting Bob Fest is in town and on Saturday at 11:30 I’m moderating a discussion/networking session called “Shape the Future of Education in Wisconsin.”  As the name indicates, this is about exchanging ideas and organizing.  Lots of great people have confirmed as participants.  I hope you can join us.

Thomas J. Mertz


Filed under Best Practices, Contracts, education, Local News, National News, Scott Walker, Take Action, Uncategorized

3 responses to “The table is (almost) set: MMSD handbook process (and a few other things)

  1. Laura Chern

    Good work TJ and friends.

  2. Laura Chern

    Ooops. And Arlene and other board members.

  3. Ted Lewis

    My letter to the Board:
    To the Board:

    First, I thank each of you for your often thankless and challenging public service.

    Second, as a parent of two District kids I encourage you to rapidly negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with your employees during the window that exists as Judge Colas rightly ruled that Act 10 is unconstitutional. I want my kids’ teachers to have the rights and protections of a union contract, as I believe this helps give them (the teachers) the voice and security to excel in their profession. Especially in the wake of the uncertainty that Scott Walker unleashed for the future of School District employees, I believe that my kids’ education will benefit from the peace of mind that having a union contract brings their educators.

    Third, I encourage you to negotiate a contract as a matter of principle in defense of collective bargaining as a right. I and most Madison residents understand that negotiating a collective contract is a fundamental right. I would appreciate it if, instead of assisting Scott Walker’s assault against fundamental rights, you proactively did the right thing. While I rarely agreed with Ronal Reagan, he was right on target when he said, “Where Collective Bargaining Is Forbidden, Freedom Is Lost.” Please stand for freedom and negotiate a contract with Madison school district employees.


    Ted Lewis
    1910 Keyes Ave
    Madison, WI 53711

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