Sunday, April 29, 2007

BAIT 'N' BITCH: AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL COMPATRIOTS

I hold no malice to our friends in elementary and middle school who wrote to the Board pointing out that they have been teaching for 300 minutes. I know of no high school teacher that does (hold malice). Elia's attempt to "divide and conquer" failed.

The reality is that you were presented with some pretty attractive bait. The "fair and equitable" phrase is truly an ideal to be pursued. You HAVE been putting in that kind of time and more. We all have but it doesn't always show up on the "books".

Ever notice how adept the Board is at "Candy coating" additional demands with feel-good connotation
? Ask a veteran teacher. Watch the board meetings. Have your insulin ready.

Ms. Olsen and other Board members along with CTA have joined Ms. Elia to define "fair and equitable" as "spreading the misery to all". The last thing they want is to provide YOU with the same amount of time as the high school teachers have. They know you need it. They tell you in confidence. They just won't do anything to remediate it.

Mrs. Elia and the Board's awareness of your heartfelt desire to do what's right for the kids has resulted in you accepting a larger and larger burden without any additional incentive.
Why does the Superintendent and the Board continue to ask us to do more while NOT providing us with the necessary tools to accomplish the tasks?

"Lambo's" concluding outburst at the last meeting was revealing on many levels. As teachers we have experienced the frustration of being placed in an indefensible position while complying with the many federal, state, and local mandates. "Lambo's" letter lulu sounds like a "mistake" made while trying to do too much in too little time. We can only hope he remembers the feeling if any of us trip on that stress induced sidewalk crack.


If Superintendent Elia was a true believer in "fair and equitable" she would have included all "stakeholders" (don't you just love that label) in the solution process. Admittedly she bumbled the communication process. Again. The looks on some of the board members faces indicate that she even kept them in the dark until recently.

It is much easier to bait those already beaten into submission into supporting a move to bring others into the boiler-room. The coal barons were masters at this tactic. Imagine what you could accomplish with an extra 50 minutes of preparation. The last thing the Superintendent or the Board wants is to confront this "little anomaly".

Considering that a majority of CTA membership (by the leadership's own admission) is made up of elementary and middle school teachers, your interests are being ignored! You have the fire power to demand that CTA bring you into parity with the high school schedule. You have the financial whip necessary to demand that CTA addresses this. If they lose your membership they are finished.

Don't ask. DEMAND. Demand the time that you truly need to attend to the professional obligations you have to your clients. (Yeah, Candy I didn't forget that "other professionals" snipe. Later ma'am) Demand the attention from CTA. INSIST that they get you more time to prepare and renew. INSIST that they work harder than you do to make up for you being treated like second class members.

The more you allow ROSSAC to burden you the more they will.

Realize that you may take some heat from your administration. They will have to change schedules, rooms, assignments, etc. and it will not make them happy with you. It happens at all levels. They are human and get resentful of the ROSSAC dictates as much as we do. Compliance has become such a hammer since we have a Asst. Superintendent of Compliance. Intimidation is the nail.

The high school teachers will join with you. Just act.

The thing is: you will experience the true definition of "fair and equitable".

Sound Off And Be Heard
Keeping Up With Goader
Lambo's Lee
Sisyphus - Pound THAT Rock!
The Gradebook

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think its important for our fellow elementary school and middle school teachers to realize thats its not the 300 mins that high school teachers have a problem with. I would gladly welcome more time with my students. The problem is when you try to force an extra presentation on us, extra students and less planning time. 5 classes of 60 mins.... so problems. 6 classes of 50 mins... big problem!

Suzie Creamcheese said...

I believe we know as little about what the elementary and middle school teacher face with as they know about what the high school teacher confronts.

As one speaker put it, "It's like comparing horses and zebras". THAT worked for me.

Whether by design or accident we have never been privy to each other's trials and tribulations.

I sincerely hope this blog is a starting point toward understanding.

I invite those elementary and middle school teachers to post.

Goader said...

I second the appeal to elementary and middle school lteachers to leave comments here. Whatever you are thinking, I for one look forward to reading it--good or bad. We are all on the same team though we play different positions.

Sisyphus - The Rock that Keeps on Rolling... said...

You have seen my "side by side" minutes for HS and ElemEd. (see previous comments here and else where)

If HS could lump their time together in blocks of core subject areas, count passing time as instructional, (so we would be "teaching 300 minutes") AND get decent chunks of time before and after student hours, we would NOT be carrying signs at ROSSAC.

Who's up for May 8th? My theme - "The Perfect Storm".

possum said...

Hi Gang,
I've been thinking about sharing a few thoughts for a while now, but finally decided to take the plunge. (apart from the fact that I simply haven't had the time to publish my ire over Candy's comments last week)

Here's the cause which has finally forced me to overcome my natural shyness (ha ha): I am wondering what shape we're in for the next meeting. I am wondering what you're hearing out there in TV land from "the people." Are people angry enough about the insults and the exhortation to give up and go home to be willing to show up again? Out of sheer defiance? Frankly, if I had NOT already planned to be there, I certainly would be planning on it now, but I'm an ornery cuss (I'm guessing I'm in good company here).

I am worried that enough people will feel defeated by it that they WILL "give up and go home." I am worried that the people who feel discouraged will not realize that there is the larger war to be won yet. Frankly, in my mind, it doesn't matter whether we get this changed for 07-08 or not (though of course that would be the best possible outcome): what matters is that we minimize the damage that we take, how long it persists, and work actively to eventually get some better management, who is at least a good enough actor to be a little more convincing when they say "our teachers work so hard." I am in this fight to eventually get a leader who just might stop and THINK about what teachers think when they are making decisions.

So here's my point: if we are reduced to the same old hardliners, the regulars, then it seems to me that not only the battle but the entire war are lost. If we as a group give up now, we have announced to the district as loudly as if we hired a skywriter "you can do whatever you want to us with impunity!"

And in my mind that is NOT an announcement we can afford to make. Most especially in a year when the "full book" of our contract comes up for renewal. IF we as a group give up now, we might as well ask the district to draw and quarter us and hand them the knives.

So here's the $64,000 question: do we teachers as a group have the will to make another showing?????

Suzie Creamcheese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzie Creamcheese said...

You're right about others showing up but by the same token the "pioneer percentage' has always been low.

Word on the street is that teachers ARE making plans just keeping things close to the vest. This is a high stakes poker game.

I'm disappointed with some of our schools and damn proud of others.

The bottom line is: do what you are able - when you are able, encourage those who won't buckle under the intimidation or tremble in response to "what if they get mad?" SHOW UP. Show your support. Stay cool and empathetic.

This is a new generation of teacher and even our veteran teachers are joining. It takes a while for things to sink in.

There is a lot going under the radar.

No matter what goes down, as long as you do what you can, you will be able to look ANYONE in the eye and say "I showed up, I emailed, I called, did you?"

There are many fronts in this struggle: political, social, financial, emotional, psychological, state and federal, among others.

Spread the word and keep a good attitude.

"Don't let it bring you down, its only castles burning, just find someone who's turning and you will come around."

It takes time to crash the palace.