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Sixth teaching period

March 3, 2007 am31 12:32 am

Today I found this:

Side Bar Agreement
High School
Sixth Teaching Period

If the instructional program at the high school requires the creation of a number of class sections in any subject not divisible by five,
AND, if the additional classes cannot be taught by duly certified teachers in the district or by teachers shared with the middle school,
AND, if the Board is unable to find and employ a part-time teacher in the subject,

The superintendent will notify the President of the Association of the condition and need and will confer with representatives of the Association on possible ways to fill the assignment.

If there is no other way to fill the assignment, the Board may assign no more than twelve (12) high school teachers per year to a sixth teaching period at the additional compensation rate of $4,500. Teachers so assigned will not be assigned to either a duty period or a homeroom.

The purpose of this agreement is to meet emergent staffing and program requirements of the Board and it is not intended to be implemented as a means of reducing professional staff.

(keep reading, beneath the fold —–>)

It is from Clifton, NJ (found via where there are lots of Jersey contracts posted. I was looking for more north Jersey salary schedules, which are still not so easy to find)

New York City

High school teachers in NYC generally teach five classes, five days a week. I do not know how long this has been the case, probably for very long. It is a reasonable work load, though I think students would be better served by teachers with a lighter load. Four classes, though, is not in the immediate cards.

The Board of Education (or whatever they call themselves these days) has a very different interest. They seek to disorganize the educational system for most students. That leaves their primary concern cost containment (either slashing budget or shifting $ to themselves or consultants). If teaching for them is a form of babysitting, then an increase in hours per teacher would mean fewer teachers (and since they don’t care much about the quality of instruction, for them there is no downside).

The UFT, however, will not agree to a 6th teaching period.

The contract ratified in 2005, however, does provide for some sort of tutorial session at the end of the day, for 38 minutes, 4 times per week. This is less than a 6th teaching period, but it is a dangerous start down that road (contrast with this comment which intentionally blurs the distinction. The author is a prominent member of the Angry Caucus in the UFT.)

There is, however, provision for 6th teaching periods in shortage areas (this is article 7 section O of the current teachers’ contract):

O. Shortage License Areas

The Board has informed the Union of the steps it has taken and is continuing to take to minimize or eliminate teacher shortages in particular license areas. Notwithstanding these steps, the parties agree that city-wide shortages of regularly licensed teachers exist in particular licenses (shortage license areas). Therefore, the parties have adopted the following provisions in a mutual effort to address shortages of teachers in shortage license areas:

1. In accordance with applicable regulations, at each reorganization the Chancellor may authorize a particular school, where a vacancy exists in a shortage license area which the Division of Human Resources has been unable to fill, to fill the position pursuant to these provisions.

2. If the school is so authorized to fill the position hereunder, teachers in the school who are regularly licensed and appointed in the shortage license area may apply for a program in which they teach up to five regularly scheduled periods per week beyond the applicable contractual maximum teaching load in lieu of preparation time to which they would otherwise be entitled. For purposes of implementing these provisions, the “applicable contractual maximum’’ teaching loads shall be those specifically set forth in this Agreement. The applications of such teachers shall be granted in order of their seniority.

3. If, at any reorganization period, no teacher regularly licensed and appointed in the shortage license area applies to fill a position authorized hereunder, the position may be offered to other teachers in the school in the following order:
(1) Regularly appointed with certification in the license area;
(2) Provisional with certification in the license area;
(3) Regularly appointed with experience teaching in the license area;
(4) Provisional with experience teaching in the license area.
Within each category listed above, the applications of such teachers shall be granted in order of their seniority.

4. At the next reorganization, the available assignments hereunder, if any, shall be rotated (within each category) by following the same procedure. Accordingly, it is the intent of the parties that coverages will be equitably distributed over successive reorganizations and implementation of these provisions shall not modify any of the provisions of Article 7N.

5. Teachers scheduled to teach in lieu of preparation time as set forth above shall be paid at the rates set forth below per semester as a “special per session payment’’ if they are scheduled to teach five periods per week in lieu of preparation time:
October 1, 2006…………………… $5,284
Teachers who are scheduled to teach fewer than five periods per week in lieu of preparation time or who are scheduled to teach less than a full term shall receive a pro-rata “special per session payment’’ hereunder.

6. These provisions shall not be implemented in any school where an excessing situation would be caused by their implementation.

7. The decision of the Chancellor not to authorize implementation of these provisions in a shortage license area in a particular school shall be final and not subject to grievance. However, all other aspects of these provisions shall be subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions of this Agreement.

8. Should salary credit regulations be revised in order to recruit personnel in shortage license areas, incumbent employees will be treated equitably.

But this seems voluntary, so where’s the harm? The harm is in the precedent, in the work load, in what’s voluntary today becoming practice tomorrow. In other words, we need to be very careful about what happens once the door is opened.

We should not allow school boards to work chinks into our protection from excessive work loads. Article 7.O. is a problem. The 38 minutes is a problem. And Clifton’s emergency (and apparently, involuntary) 6th period is a problem. Teachers in all districts should be vigilant. We should not accept these clauses when they are offered, and we should work to remove them where they are already in place.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2007 am31 12:50 am 12:50 am

    In my school, we take on a sixth period all the time, to cover for teachers who have quit, or taken a leave. It is voluntary and we are compensated, of course. If a teacher voluntarily takes on a sixth class because he/she needs/wants the extra money, I don’t see it as a problem.

  2. March 4, 2007 am31 1:36 am 1:36 am

    I see two problems, Nani.

    First, I should say that I took 6th period classes twice. Once was in my second or third year, when someone quit and the school did not replace them, and then the first term the following year when a teacher became incapacitated. Also, as chapter leader, I rejected informal proposals to post 6th classes several times, but ok’ed one once.

    Next, I forgot one category, above. When I did the 6th class, it was in a shortage area. I was paid at the special rate in effect at that time. But if you are in a non-shortage area (ex. History or English) you only get coverages – at about 1/3 the special rate.

    OK, so here’s my answer:

    1. “Voluntary” – We have little means, especially with the union so weak in many schools, of insuring that these are genuinely voluntary. Untenured teachers can be fired without real cause; you think they will risk saying no?

    2. Slippery slope – the argument I advanced in the post is that they are working on creating chinks in our protection against an extended teaching load. Even if those who take these classes now do so voluntarily, it is a step towards involuntary (Clifton!) or across the board changes.

    3. Jobs – if there is a 6th class available, it means there was a job for an F-Status part timer, or for a full-timer (remember, we do have ATRs, and there are other people looking for work). We should not be taking small amounts of money in return for administration not hiring when it should hire.

    Of course, I did it myself. I know the lure, especially early in your career when the flat rate of pay makes it substantial. I know it can be hard for schools to find replacements. And I know I sound like a meanie when I say we should not do this. I am not, by the way, saying that if it is offered, you need to turn it down. That would be an unfair burden on individual teachers. We should not be in the business of asking for self-sacrifice. Rather I believe we as a union should remove the option altogether, or restrict its use.

  3. March 4, 2007 am31 8:55 am 8:55 am

    What if it’s that we don’t have a teacher shortage but that no one wants to work at my school?

  4. March 4, 2007 am31 9:17 am 9:17 am

    There are (I think) harder to staff schools. Certainly your school replaces most of its openings each September?

  5. March 4, 2007 pm31 6:05 pm 6:05 pm

    I was asked to take on a 6th period without pay, and I nearly said yes. (It was that, or mainstream all our 12-1-1 kids into classes of 34.) At the last second I came to my senses and refused, which I know was a good choice for me, but guess what? All 12 of those kids are now failing. Perhaps because at least 3 of them don’t even know the whole alphabet.

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