Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Are One Rally, Meet & Confer, Negotiations Survey, Extracurricular Deadline

WE ARE ONE -- Rally for the Middle Class Monday, April 4th:  Join us, and many other organizations, next Monday for a rally at the state Capitol.  We’ll stand together for the rights of all workers to bargain for a middle class life, our right to a voice in the political process and the respect that all people deserve.  This day was chosen in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, who was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis where he went to stand with sanitation workers rallying for collective bargaining rights.  We will begin with a march near the St Paul Cathedral on Marshall Avenue and John Ireland Blvd at 5:15 pm.  The program will begin at 6 pm at the Capitol and should wrap up around 7 pm.  Come for all or part of the festivities and dress warmly - the rally is outdoors. Wear blue to show your solidarity for public education!

Education Minnesota will sponsor a bus to the event and back for members and their immediate family.  Please be at the Herberger's main entrance at Northtown Mall by 3:45 p.m. April 4. Buses leave for St. Paul at 4 p.m. sharp.  Buses will leave from the Capitol immediately following the rally at approximately 7 p.m. An RSVP is required for the bus, visit: to reserve your seat.

Meet & Confer on Communication and Budget this Thursday:  This Thursday, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Staff Development Center, come to discuss communication as it relates to district initiatives and our priorities for our district’s budget with members of our school board.  You can make a prepared statement (we still have room if you’d like to speak for 3-5 minutes), participate in the discussion, or just listen.  Our school board members have said they appreciate this opportunity to talk with us directly and they have taken action on our suggestions in the past.  Email us at with any questions.

Negotiations Survey:  We begin each round of bargaining our contract by listening to you.  We’ve been visiting buildings over the past few months to hear from you in person and now we are offering an online survey to get your feedback.  We use this survey to help us develop our negotiations goals and make choices as we meet with district officials.  Watch for an email with a link to our negotiations survey by early next week. Each round our participation in the survey has been climbing and we plan to top 2000 people responding this year.

April 1st Deadline to Cease Extracurricular Duties:  Heads up on an upcoming deadline – if you plan to stop doing an extracurricular activity next year for which you are compensated, you need to let your principal know by this Friday.  The specific language is on page 3 of our contract (Article V, Section 8).  If you don’t have your contract handy, here’s an online copy:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Article Corrections and Thank You for Voting

Corrections to Today’s Article:  As we’ve seen in the past, it’s tricky for anyone to get their heads around the technical points of teachers’ contracts and alternative pay systems.  The Star Tribune article in today’s North Metro Section (you can read it here: has a couple of errors.

The article states that it takes a 75% majority for any changes in our contract.  That isn’t exactly right – the 75% threshold only applies to a contract re-opener for an alternative pay system.  Also, the article states that the cost of the local levy for Q-Comp would have been $3 million, when it would have been $3.5 million.

Q-Comp garnered 58.8% of those voting, but when you consider that 72.4% of our membership voted, that translates to 42.6% of the entire membership actually casting yes votes.  One of the reasons we have super majority requirement was so we would get closer to a true majority when you factor in those who don’t vote. Also, we know that initiatives work best with wide buy-in.

Thank You for Voting: People have been asking me what I think of the results.  There were genuinely good reasons for voting either way. I believe the more voice teachers have in the decisions that affect our day to day work, the better those decisions will be.  I appreciated the level of discussion we’ve had over the past months.  People truly worked to figure out what would be the best choice for our profession, our community and our students.

Not everyone is comfortable with us having that kind of voice. You may see some unfair talk about our vote in the media or from politicians.  We at AHEM believe that you made your decision for good reasons and will proudly stand behind it.

I hope you have a restful spring break and thank you for casting the vote that was right for you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Q-Comp Vote, Wisconsin Update, Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, Meet & Confer, Member Activism & the Media

Q-Comp Vote:  The unofficial results of our Q-Comp vote are as follows:
  • Eligible Voters: 2811
  • Votes Cast:  2034 (72% turnout)
  • Yes Votes:  1197 (58.8%)
  • No Votes:  837 (41.2%)
Because the number of yes votes was below the 75% threshold needed, we have not accepted Q-Comp.  We appreciate all those who turned out to make a decision on this important issue.

Wisconsin:  Last night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker set in motion a set of procedural moves to push through the unpopular budget repair bill.  Using what’s being called “the nuclear option,” Walker and their state senate stripped out the financial components of the bill, which allowed them to vote on the measure without the presence of the 14 Senate Democrats who had fled to Illinois.  So, now this “budget” bill no longer has the budget components, only those that strip collective bargaining rights.  Rallies and other actions are planned for this weekend across Wisconsin.  For a complete list of events, or to sign up to take a bus to Madison Saturday, visit Education Minnesota’s site at

Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy: District administration has responded to a letter we sent them asking for clarifications of the policy.  We invite you to help us review their response and decide our next steps.  We’ll meet at the AHEM office at 4:45 pm, Wednesday, March 30th.  RSVP to .

Meet & Confer:  Our next Meet & Confer with our school board will be on Thursday, March 31st, from 5:30-7:30 pm at the SDC.  Our topics will be how teacher input leads to better district decisions and our ideas for the district budget.  If you would like to speak on either of these topics, email us .

Member Activism and the Media:  With all the media attention our district receives on a variety of issues, we are offering a meeting for members to discuss how speaking out as an individual affects you in the classroom.  We’ll discuss options and tips to help you both take action and avoid difficulties at work.  We’ll get together Monday, March 21st, 4:45 pm at the AHEM office.  RSVP to .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Q-Comp Video and Discussion, Wisconsin Actions, Tech Focus Groups, AVMR Meeting

Q-Comp Information:  Now that we’ve wrapped up informational meetings around the district, we would like to fill in some information members have requested recently.  People asked for the 15 minute video about our plan that we used at informational meetings and for a place where they can share their comments and questions with other members.

  • Video:  We’ve added the video at the top of our Q-Comp website at with instructions on how to view it if it is blocked at school.
  • Share Your Comments:  The second post on our website at has been opened up for comments.  We ask that you use your real name and remember that the posts are public. 

Wisconsin Actions:  Lots of members have been asking when and where events are happening to support Wisconsin union rights.  If you are interested in attending the rallies, sending emails, or spreading the word, visit the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s site at   The actions seem to be having an effect – a New York Times poll conducted over the past few days shows that a majority support public sector workers and their bargaining rights: .

Technology Focus Groups:  The district Technology Department is looking for educators to participate in afterschool focus groups about the Anoka-Hennepin Data Dashboard/Analytic System Initiative.  Four separate groups of 6-9 participants, representing elementary, middle, high school, and K-12 special education teachers will be created to get feedback to develop the project.  Interviews will take approximately one hour and will provide an opportunity for everyone to contribute. Participants will paid for their time. Email us AHEM at  if you are interested.
AVMR Meeting:  Advantage Math Recovery, used in our elementary schools, has been the focus of debate among educators and school board members since its first appearance in our district.  The potential benefits of the program are not in question, but there seems to be room for improvement in our delivery model.  We invite members to come to the AHEM office to discuss what’s working and what can be improved at 4:45 pm, Thursday, March 24th.  Let us know if you plan to attend at .