Austintown Education Association Press Release:
In a crowded general membership meeting earlier this evening, the members of the Austintown Education Association (AEA) voted unanimously to authorize their negotiation team to issue a 10-day Notice of Intent to Strike as the team sees fit. “We certainly do not take this step lightly or without a lot of thought,” said AEA President and Spokesperson Barb, “However, the actions of both Superintendent Colaluca and the Board’s bargaining team have left us no choice.” At this time, no strike date has been set, as the union remains hopeful about the upcoming mediation session. That session is scheduled for Monday, February 25 at the Board offices, where Federal Mediator Doug Corwan will continue to supervise negotiations between the parties. Teachers will be gathering in support of their union’s bargaining team at Austintown Middle School as the teacher work day ends. “We are hopeful that the Board and the Superintendent will come back to the negotiating table and bargain in good faith so that we can remain in the classroom doing what we do best—educating the students of Austintown,” added Tomic. “But our members are unified and prepared to do what is necessary to obtain the fair contract and the respect that we and our students deserve.”
The AEA represents the approximately 315 teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, librarians, and speech therapists of the Austintown Local School District, who have been working without a contract since August 29, 2012.
In a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on February 7, 2013, Arne Duncan stated:
“Talent matters tremendously in education,” Duncan said in talking about the new and far more robust evaluation systems that states are building under flexibility. States are developing evaluation systems that go far beyond NCLB’s minimum “highly qualified teacher” standards, and are using systems that measure and support effective teaching and leadership based on multiple measures, including student growth. “Great principals lead great schools. Great teachers do miraculous things with children,” he said. “The federal government does not serve as a national school board … We don’t dictate curriculum, levy school assessments, or open and close schools. We don’t specify the content of academic standards or negotiate teachers’ contracts. We do have a responsibility to set a high bar to protect the interests of students, especially at-risk students. But how to reach that bar, I believe, should be left to the states.”
“We are above the state average for student-teacher ratios according to the greatschools.org website. This is even given the fact that student-teacher ratios are based on the total number of school instructional staff divided by the total enrollment of students. Therefore, this number may include specialist teachers in the arts, literacy specialists, physical education and special education teachers, who may teach smaller groups of students. As a result, student-teacher ratios may show smaller numbers than the actual average class size.”