The teaching profession is not easy, and our teachers have had only a larger challenge teaching with these distracting negotiations. Thank you to every teacher who reads this. You don't hear those words enough.
It is time to end these negotiations and avoid a strike. The teachers union and school district cannot agree on eight items. Some of these items are money issues, which directly affect the district's budget. Some of these items are language issues, which do not directly affect the budget.
I realize that the district must meet certain deadlines in order to prepare for the next school year. Some of these deadlines include the budget process that starts in the next couple of months.
With that said, I understand the district's desire to have certainty regarding its projected balances. For that reason, I would like to see the Gresham-Barlow Education Association concede on some of the issues that affect the district's bottom line. I know these are tough times for everyone, but I think this is necessary.
On the other hand, a few items that cannot be agreed upon have no impact on the district's budget. Take switching to a seven-period day, for example. Fixing the high school schedule will not, like we all once thought, have a budget impact. If it is not a money issue, it should be left to change another time.
After all, our district has gone all this time without teacher collaboration time every Wednesday. I believe the district can survive without it. There's simply no valid reason to have staff collaboration between the different teaching levels.
When it comes to instruction hours, the district should eliminate monthly late starts in the high schools. Many high schools in our area use the block schedule. The district could do some collaboration of its own and find out how those districts maximize instructional time with the block schedule.
I know many students who wanted to pursue a career in education. Now, they are completely turned off at the thought of teaching because of the events that have transpired these past few months between the association and the district.
The school district needs to look at what lesson they are teaching to the students it serves. This is not how you achieve compromise. I'm not putting all of the responsibility solely on the district, though. If teachers end up striking, it won't be their fault, either. It would be the fault of everyone on both sides of the table.
Nevertheless, the only people who will truly suffer are those who weren't at the table at all - the students of this district. Regardless of the outcome, I, along with the students I represent, stand strongly behind our teachers.
Community members, you can lend your voice to help students. We do not want to see a strike. No learning will be achieved during a strike, further reducing the amount of real instruction time we receive for this school year.
Contact the board and express the views of all students: Avoid a strike, no matter what it takes.
On another note, I would like to address those readers who have consistently bashed teachers (mostly online) as 'greedy whiners' or something to that effect. I personally invite you to email me, and we can arrange a tour of my school. I'll show you just how wrong you are.