I can’t tell you how many drafts of this address that I went through…how many hours I spent thinking about the events that are continuing to occur…plus debating on my unusual format for my address.
I never thought, after 22 years of teaching, that I would have to so many times justify exercising my rights and my professional judgment. I never thought that I would begin to not trust that the leadership of my district had the best interests of my colleagues and students at the heart of all that they do. Even more disheartening is that I have to repeatedly plead for fair and equitable treatment of my members.
Last week I attended the special board meeting. I, and many who attended, had questions about why there was an extra meeting called. When I expressed this need to the board, I was told that questions were not appropriate at that time and that I needed to wait.
First let me say that I know you can’t respond to me in this forum. But I hope that what I ask and all that has been brought to you by certificated staff, community members, and parents over the last 3 ½ months has not fallen on deaf ears.
My question litany begins: why call a special board meeting and spend the entire time in closed session? What could have been discussed for almost 2 hours with no action taken? Why would the board feel compelled to contact my members directly with an inaccurate, one-sided, partial truths memo the day before a board meeting? Why, after so many months of asking for help and dialogue to get back to the table has the board clearly supported the district’s position only? Why is the board only relying on the district administration for all of their information? Why is there no open communication about trouble in our district? Why did the board not act on the Level IV grievance brought to them? Why are the agenda items so vague that no one, teachers, parents nor community members, is sure exactly what is being discussed and when?
Most importantly, and if you hear anything I have to say tonight, I hope this stays with you…AND THIS IS THE ONLY QUESTION I WILL OFFER SOME RESPONSE TO…I want each of you to ask yourselves this: why do you think the teachers are engaged in such activities? Why would dedicated, hard-working, educated, irreplaceable employees take so much time to get your attention? I’ll offer some reasons that are not the answer…teachers are not doing this because we have nothing else to do. We are not doing this because we wish to make a circus out of the running of our district. Teachers are not engaged in Union activities merely to have a “pep rally”…and we certainly are not doing this “just because a few are upset with district mandates.” You can’t see my speech, but all of these reasons are quotes from site and district administration about their employees.
Could it be that the certificated staff needs to be heard? Could it be that there are some egregious flaws in communication in this district? Could it be that there is a lack of transparency?
I’ll end with this, which is one of the first addresses I made to you as president of PFT…trust is the easiest thing to break and the hardest thing to rebuild. As trustees (and I am not making a pun here), your responsibility is to uphold the values of our district…of being open…of seeking dialogue with many different perspectives…and to communicate openly. What is demanded of the certificated staff should be reflected in the leadership of the district. Again, I am heartsick that this is not the case. Please work with us and not against us.