The superintendent came to speak to us this morning. For those just tuning in, we are gearing up for a strike. The board and the superintendent do not have the best interests of the students AND teachers in mind. With a cost of living adjustment from the state of 3.93% last year and 5.53% this year, the district is offering us a deal that amount to significantly less. Plus class sizes continue to go up – 38 to 40 students in a history class is the norm. Throw in the fact that one board member has written articles that condemn all unions and they should be broken. Another board member is working with our anti-union governor. Last, a small politically active religious group (who’s outreach program is led by a former board member) points to my district as a success story in a grassroots campaign to influence public education.
So the superintendent came to speak. When we walked into the gym where we were meeting, he saw a sea of teachers and staff members wearing yellow shirts (our color of unity – don’t ask me why yellow!). He was also met by a wave of silence. We said nothing. As he avoided eye contact and bumbled through his somewhat prepared speech, he confessed that his job is hard and he doesn’t always think he does a great job and he doesn’t always like it. All the while, we sat silently. When he finally finished and asked if there were questions, we sat silently. When he awkwardly walked out, we were silent.
Then we smiled.
At a different school they asked questions first, then walked out before he could give his prepared statement. At another one, where the staff has not been very vocal, they peppered him with tough questions and then stated their full support of the union.
I hate to start the new school year with this cloud over our heads. I have so much to do and focus on in my classroom, at home, and in grad school – I don’t have time to worry about a strike. Hopefully these signs of unity will force the district to settle, before we all are forced to walk out. No one wants to, but everyone I’ve talked to at several different sites said they will.