So what are we to take from the teachers’ decision to reject a proposed six-year contract that had the unanimous support of union leadership?

  • Teachers are fed up. This was their first chance to vote on a contract since Furlough Fridays. Remember those? What a disaster, for teachers, students and the state.
  • The teachers delivered a message: They don’t trust the state or their union.
  • Teachers have lost confidence in their leaders. Wil Okabe and his board should offer their resignations. Their handling of this case has been inept. (Need we remind you of the way the Labor Relations Board hearing has proceeded.)
  • The state and union have both been ineffective as negotiators. Who’s been involved in labor negotiations and doesn’t know about using back channels to avoid deadlocks like the one reached between teachers and the state? Adults find a way to talk. Where were the adults?
  • The governor, the state board of education and the superintendent may have talked with one voice in a way they wouldn’t have before we opted for an appointed board, but teachers rarely heard from them — and when they did hear from the governor, what they heard was either that their union was responsible for the problem or that there was no need to negotiate to meet the needs of Race to the Top. Not a good message.
  • Where were Kathryn Matayoshi and Don Horner when the public and teachers needed to hear how evaluations and performance pay would work? And why should anybody believe them when they still haven’t implemented annual evaluations for principals? Even the five-year evaluations for teachers are at best inconsistently implemented.

Bottom line: The union and the state both have earned a failing grade.