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.