Teachers in the Anchorage School District have been working without a new contract since June. Recent negotiations between ASD and the Anchorage Education Association have been somewhat contentious, but a tentative agreement was reached late Wednesday evening. The contract is set to be voted on by educators from December 3–10. If ratified, the agreement will be presented at the school board meeting on December 17.

AEA President Tom Klaameyer joined John Thompson on KTVA 11's Daybreak to discuss the mediation process, as well as some key sticking points in the agreement.

The following is an excerpt from the interview, edited for length:

Thompson: Let's talk about that process a little bit. What was so contentious? 

Klaameyer: Absolutely. Mediation actually extended beyond what it normally does because we were so close. 

We had conceptually agreed to many of the issues for our working conditions, but the mid-level model for discussing moving forward, the schedules at what would be middle school or junior high was the sticking point.

That was the one last big issue that we didn't have an agreement on. 

But we were close enough we wanted to keep going back and the mediator helped us get to a point where we could have a tentative agreement.

Thompson: A big issue you were far apart on, scheduling for middle school. What does that mean when you say scheduling? 

Klaameyer: There's a philosophical difference in terms of middle school versus junior high. Junior high is like a mini high school, as the name would imply. 

Middle school recognizes that kids aren't quite as mature as high schoolers, they're much more mature than elementary, and then going through that rough period of adolescence they need something more.

So an interdisciplinary approach, collaboration with teachers to help the kids effective education. 

So it's expensive, takes more teachers and so over the course of the years, it's been whittled down.

Thompson: I saw review of elementary language arts implementation. 

That is going to require a little trust.

Like is that like a letter of intent almost, like we plan on doing this; you have to trust that it will be implemented?

Klaameyer: Yes, so we have new language to provide voice for members to be included in the process of doing a practice change or program change or implementation. 

So it's teachers in the classroom that are doing the work, closest to students, and know what students need most. 

We want to make sure that voice is included in the process. 

So yes, there's two letters of agreement:  one on talking about the mid-level schedules; and then one which really is going to be an existing, an ongoing committee but the first thing that they're looking at is the elementary English language arts adoption.

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