"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The 31st Summer...

It's summer again. Time to recuperate from the stresses of the school year. Time to relax and regroup for the next school year. Time to let the worries about individual students fall away for a while.

This is the 31st summer since I started teaching...and this one is different. I'm a member of my teacher's association's bargaining team and this summer we're bargaining for a new contract with the school board.

Our team has been working since early in the last school year (see Time to Teach posted on November 17, 2006). At first there was talk of getting a contract before school was over...then there was talk of getting it done before the end of June. Now, we're all pretty sure that when we start school in the fall we will still be bargaining.

This is a new experience for me. I've been active in the "association" since I started teaching. I've been a building representative, committee chair person, delegate to the state assembly and officer...but this is the first time I've sat on the negotiating team.

What strikes me about this process is not that there is a need for give and take between the parties, or that we are cooperating and compromising in order to make a good contract. The thing that stands out to me is something that the team representing the school board has not said. No one on their team has mentioned doing what is best for the students.

In all my experiences with the "association" one thing has been constant and is mentioned at nearly every meeting I've attended locally or at the state level. The constant has been that we are doing what we do to benefit our students. We want a contract which is good for us, but so far everything we have talked about is directly related to students' well being whether it's more time for teachers to prepare for their lessons, more arts and physical education, or smaller class sizes. The benefits to students are foremost in our minds. My impression so far from the school board's team is that this school system wants to get by with doing as little as possible and the students be damned.

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