Negotiations (solsc2015) 26/31

Shadow teacher looks at signs, sighs.

Tuesday night was the School Board meeting for our district. We have been in negotiations with the district since last May. We are working without a contract and we’re getting tired of it. Our district seems to have a huge amount of money set aside, and it grows each year. Our Superintendent earns more than the Governor of California and the head of the FBI. If we get a raise, so does she. Things are starting to get prickly around here.

My daughter and I attended the Board meeting on Tuesday. The teachers’ union had prepared a lot of signs to hold, and our president had a PowerPoint to deliver. We had all been asked to attend to show our support and solidarity.

There were over 100 teachers in attendance that night. We all held signs and entered into the little board room, the one where they hold closed sessions. As they left closed session and went into the big board room, where the public portion of the meeting occurs we lined the hallway with our signs. The news was there, and we all silently held up our signs. To me it was a little awkward, but all in all it was respectful. They were smiling, and we were too, holding our signs.

But then the meeting started. It got kind of nasty. The Chairman of the Board had some mean and belittling things to say about and to the teachers. He is a former teacher – how quickly one forgets. Teachers began disagreeing with him in loud voices, and chaos broke out. It was quickly contained, but for a few minutes I was appalled. I’m really sure that neither side gained any points with their barbs and shouted commentary. I sometimes think I’m too passive, and I probably am, but what I heard was certainly not destined to lead to any sort of resolution or harmony.

This is in sharp contrast to another local school district. Last year they didn’t have the money to give their teachers what they had requested. This year they did have enough. In fact they had more than enough, so they gave them more than they asked for. Can you believe that? What would it even be like to feel listened to, to have our needs understood and to be given a place at the table, respectfully.

Today was another bargaining day. We’ll see what comes of it. We’re getting close to more drastic measures. A vote of no confidence, working to contract, a strike even. I hope it doesn’t come to any of that. Ugh. Just that. Ugh.



22 thoughts on “Negotiations (solsc2015) 26/31

  1. carolmcbroom says:

    THis makes me sad. I live in a state where there are no unions. Luckily, my district does what it can to keep teachers happy. I hope things work out for you.

  2. lynnjake says:

    Thanks Carol. It is a sad situation. I don’t what it’d be like yo have no union. In this state I think it’d be less that optimal!

  3. Michelle Engle says:

    Oh, I hope you guys don’t have to strike. I know you wouldn’t do it unless absolutely necessary, but I always feel bad for the students when that happens. Good luck to you all!

  4. Morgan says:

    Your frustration comes through loud and clear, yet so does your hopefulness. In words like support, solidarity, harmony, and believe, you do not sound passive, but optimistic even in the face of such adversity. I can hear you keeping your chin up and committing to the good, long fight of it. Keep fighting!

  5. Paula TrucksPape says:

    We went through this in my district in Wisconsin more than 10 years ago, but collective bargaining was not possible and strikes were illegal. The good news was that we worked without a superintendent for a year (he had resigned) and the school board figured out that we didn’t need such a high paid position. Still, school funding brings about such difficult politics. No one agrees on what “good” education is, few outside the profession understand what it means to be a good educator and certainly the taxpayers without children in schools think it’s all “wasted” money (even though they also benefit from an educated populace). This is part of the reason I’m no longer teaching in public schools. I wish you courage and patience.

  6. lynnjake says:

    Interesting, Paula. I’ve heard a lot about Wisconsin and the non-union teaching. It soulds like your district worked things out. As far as not teaching in public schools, this is my choice, and I really feel these kids need us, so here I’ll stay until my time is up. Things could be worse!

  7. Paula TrucksPape says:

    I wish blessings on everyone teaching young people anywhere. Teachers are needed now as much or more than ever. I sure wish the money issue were not related to what happens in schools. Every things changes when the conversation is more about money than what we want to accomplish.

  8. Lisa Weikel says:

    I agree with BLKDRAMA. It is a terribly sad time for public education. People have forgotten their history (duh – right there, a tragic irony) – OUR history – and how public education was instrumental in creating a middle class and an educated electorate. (At least, better than it is now.)

    It is amazing to me that the district right next to yours was able to recognize the inherent value of public school teachers and work with them to show respect and appreciation for their service. Is there something to be gained from trying to figure out just what, exactly, has influenced the values of those in that district to those in yours?

    Teaching, as a profession, has such an astoundingly profound opportunity to shape the world. If only those who vilify teachers and denigrate the profession would remember those who were instrumental in their lives. And I am absolutely pro-union, but wonder at the extreme measures of saving the jobs of teachers who – by everyone’s standards – rot at their jobs. The inability to get rid of teachers who’ve lost it (or never had “it”) damages their credibility in everyone’s eyes, I think.

  9. lynnjake says:

    Yes, Lisa. Public education has been through the wringer. Good parts, not so good parts, I agree that people have forgotten the importance of free public education for all. In our district we have a good charter school for the arts. They win all sorts of awards. This is great, but they get to choose who goes to their school and who is sent away for not toeing their line. We don’t have that freedom, and I think we do well with the students we have. It is hard to hear them brag about how well their students do, knowing that they only get who they want, no one else. It’s hard. At times I look forward to walking away in a couple of years, no matter how committed I am to my job and students.

  10. Lisa Weikel says:

    …And that last sentence is the saddest thing any of us can hear. And I hear it from virtually every impeccable teacher I know. (And I’m lucky to know many.)

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