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There are bigger issues than money

Dave Aberle is with the Marketing and Sales Operations team for Verizon Wireless and is a father of three children in the Gresham-Barlow School District. He has become involved in supporting the teachers of the district during this contract dispute.

I have become a very active voice among parents of students within the Gresham-Barlow School District.

I have three children in the district who attend East Orient Elementary School, West Orient Middle School and Barlow High School. I attended the school board meeting last Thursday night where I blasted the council for making this contract dispute to be more about money and less about the conditions they are forcing teachers into.

I ended my little rant to them by reminding them that they are elected officials and we will be remembering their names come next election.

I would ask that you please remember that the community does not care for sensationalism when it comes to our children, which means we recognize that this is not about having the highest paid teachers, it is about issues such as:

• Class sizes: My son is in a fourth-grade class of 34 students. Trying to navigate around the room when I have volunteered is difficult at best because there simply is no room (and his teacher has a larger room than some).

• Prep time: With a class size of 34, my son's teacher needs ample time to prepare for lesson plans, respond to parents and meet with her peers to come up with a strategy and to handle issues that will never be addressed by the administration.

If you look at pay alone, then you need to look at things such as pay being frozen, and then with the removal of prep time that would mean teachers need to work more on their own time. The more they work on their own time the less they truly make.

If you consider the average wage per hour, then you can see what I mean. (I am salaried in my position and it is sad to see the hourly wage when I work more hours than normal).

• Discipline: Teachers want to retain the verbiage in their contract around getting assistance with disruptive students. With the removal of the topic from the contract, conceivably my son and his class could have to leave the room because of a student having a tantrum thus suspending their learning. Why would it make more sense to herd 33 students out rather than the 1? That is a huge issue for parents that they would much rather read about in your articles.

• Block Scheduling at Barlow: Monday night the Gresham-Barlow School Board meeting will re-air on public broadcasting. If you did not see it, I urge you to watch.

The number of high school students who attended to protest the switch from block scheduling to a seven-period day was incredible. I heard story after story about kids having to give up classes that make sense in lieu of a schedule that is unforgiving to many of the non-traditional courses.

One father spoke about how his two daughters, both gifted musicians, will have to drop band next year as a result of the schedule. Dropping band may not sound like a major news story, but when the students are potentially looking at scholarships, which will vanish if they fail to continue in band, it suddenly becomes a big deal. That is what parents would rather hear about.

Please, help out the community you write to. Remember that we are concerned about the real issues and not the money, which truly is among the lowest of the concerns of our teachers.

I cannot tell you how many people were shocked to hear a fourth-grade class had 34 students in it. That makes an impact. Then add the removal of prep time and the possibility of disruptive students halting the education process and you have a story that this community would really care to read.




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