Sunday, May 23, 2010

Woo Hoo Teachers Who Get It

I like that these teachers are finally getting but if you okayed any prior contracts or chose to be part of the Union you have only yourselves to blame.

Quote of the Day - "I say this not to the teachers, but to their unions: If education were a war, you would be losing it. If it were a business, you would be driving it into bankruptcy. If it were a patient, it would be dying. To the teachers unions I say: When I am president, I will disregard your political power for the sake of the children, the schools and the nation. I plan to enrich your vocabulary with those words you fear -- school choice, competition and opportunity scholarships -- so that you will join the rest of us in accountability, while others compete with you for the commendable privilege of giving our children a real education." Bob Dole

To bad Bob Dole did not win.

The following piece appeared in the Northwest Herald.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Guest column: Not all D-26 teachers want to keep contract closed

The Cary Education Association has spoken. Of those voting, 74 percent voted not to open the contract and make concessions to help the district; 26 percent voted to open the contract and talk to the school board about saving programs for students and jobs for colleagues.

The undersigned are part of that 26 percent, and following is a history of how this vote came to be:

In January 2010, an entire month after receiving a letter from the school board about opening up talks, the CEA Board presented the letter in a meeting of the total membership. Their approach was to tell the membership that opening the contract could result in a “last best offer,” decided by the school board, which we would be forced to accept, an offer that could take away “everything.”

This, membership was informed, was information given to the CEA Board by the Illinois Education Association attorneys. Although many of the undersigned knew this could not happen under the circumstances and voted to open the contract, the majority voted not to open. At a later meeting, a group of Prairie Hill teachers questioned the IEA representatives about this “advice,” but the IEA would not affirm or deny what they had told the CEA Board.

The planned monthly union meetings of the entire membership were then canceled through April.

A second letter sent by the school board to open talks was returned with a negative response from the CEA Board; no information about this letter was given to the membership until after the negative response was returned to the school board.

With inaccurate information swirling through the community, the school board placed three possible options in public at a school board meeting. Having been given no information from our own union representatives, many of us were happy to hear something; still no vote for the membership.

Recently the membership was told of new options presented by the school board. Members were told about these options in separate meetings at individual schools, hindering the ability for members across the district to discuss concerns.

Throughout this process, we believe we were given only one message that never has changed: if the contract is opened, you could lose everything. Surrounding districts that are making successful concessions were never mentioned.

After the result of the vote was announced, a union co-president read a letter from several years ago touting the contract as being a good one. Before the economy took a nosedive, that might have been so, but the economy has suffered a blow in the past two years and many people are making sacrifices for the common good and being part of the solution, if they still have jobs.

The CEA press release after the last vote states, “However, the CEA will continue to work with the BOE and administration to find ways to further minimize the cuts that have been made and therefore provide cost-saving options in an effort to reinstate and maintain high-quality programs and educators...”. The CEA had the opportunity to do these things over the past four months but said no to efforts to reinstate programs and educators. Many cost-saving options were suggested by teachers: 2-step retirement, furlough days. Nothing came of these or any other suggestions made by those outside the bargaining committee.

We would like the public to know that many of our voices were suppressed over the past four months, and our questions remain unanswered, despite our efforts. Our reputations and integrity are important to us.

The undersigned represent staff who have been laid off and staff who have retained their jobs. We have been, and still are, willing to open our contract and make concessions for the benefit of the students, our colleagues, and the community. We remain dedicated to quality education for the students of District 26.

– Judy Arvidson. Mary Forni, Barbara Glowacki, Kathy Lazzerini, Kelly Low, Kristi Newman, Rita Patterson, Jameson Pearce, Pauline Walker

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