Education, Politics, Weather

Earlier Teacher Contracts

Click to see original imageA trend has developed in the Utah education program that ought to be changed.

We refer to the pattern in recent years of extending teacher salary negotiations deep into the summer.

And while the salary discussions go along, sometimes seemingly at snail’s pace, the public must wait, with no positive assurance that a settlement will be reached in time for the scheduled school opening in the fall or for proper preparations to be made.

Last year 4,000 students in Carbon School District had to start school a week late because the stalled teacher-school board negotiations didn’t produce an agreement in time. A similar situation developed in that district the previous year also. This is not being fair lo the children, the public, the taxpayers.

As of the last published account, less than half of Utah’s 40 school districts had reached agreement on 1970-71 teacher contracts.

With school bells not much more than month away, none of the three school districts here in Utah County has signed – Alpine, Provo, Nebo. It is understood that offers have been made, but no settlement consummated yet.

Time was when most teacher contracts were signed in springtime, with very few consummated after school was out. The pattern has changed with the growing militancy of the teacher organizations and the practice employed by many teachers of signing their power of attorney over to the professional negotiators.

Hence the more complex negotiations and delays in settlement that keep everybody guessing, including the public, almost own to the wire.

Maybe theres merit in legislation that would put school teacher negotiations on a state-wide basis and fix deadlines beyond which salary disputes would go to arbitration or mediation. Negotiation bills have been before the last two Utah legislative sessions but didn’t win wide enough support to pass. Principal disagreement has centered around what is negotiable and upon strike or no-strike clauses.

Perhaps there is merit also to extending contracts beyond one-year – three years, for example, as is common in industry.

Whatever plan is worked out, provision should be made that will be fair to the public and let parents, students et al know what to expect.

Let’s get contract settlements back in springtime – by April or at least by May. We commend those school districts – teachers and school boards – which felt the urgency of early contracts and got the job done. We urge others to complete settlement as soon as possible.

Crowding the deadline isn’t a healthy situation and could, in any given district, possibly result in unpleasantness and damaging circumstances of the type experienced by Carbon County.



Heat, the Killer

How many of us do not complain at some point or another during the scorching days this time of year that the heat is killing us?

Tragically, that complaint can be all to literally true. Heat can and does kill – an average of 175 Americans during a “normal” year and many more during a really hot summer. The worst on recent record was 1952, when 1,401 deaths were attributable to heat, according to the Commerce Departments Environmental Science Services Administration which has issued a report, “Heat Wave,” on the dangers of and ways to beat the heat.

In fact, among natural hazards summer heat is second only to its exact opposite, extreme cold of winter, as a death cause, exceeding the toll of lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods an earthquakes.

There isn’t much that can be done about the heat directly but a few simple safety rules can be followed. These are mostly common sense measures such as avoiding sunburn and dehydration, eating lightly and taking it easier as the dog days approach. Hear, hear!