The crisis team met this week to brainstorm activities that PEA members can do. These activities will begin to let the community realize that not all is well in their district (teachers working without a contract and facing frozen steps) AND pressure district officials to offer a settlement that is fair.
1. All PEA members are encouraged to wear the red PEA shirts on every Tuesday, beginning Nov. 8.
2. Starting Monday, Nov. 7, all PEA members are urged to “work to rule” — which means doing no more extra work than you currently do (not including schedule B duties, coaching, attendance at required meetings, etc.) and not arriving any sooner or staying any later than your contractual reporting time.
This show of unity works best when all PEA members in a building enter in the morning as a group, and depart in the afternoon also in a group.
When the community realizes that its well-respected teachers are working under the tension of no pay increase, increased insurance costs (since July) and a murky (at best) new evaluation process, they may begin to ask questions of our administration and school board. When principals have the sole responsibility for supervising students before and after school, they may also begin to ask that this contract situation be resolved.
How long will we have to do this? That depends on the school board’s level of cooperation and willingness to offer reasonable proposals. Our superintendent has made it clear that he is not being allowed to offer more than what the board is “comfortable with” economically. So the pressure from our side needs to focus on the school board. The red shirts and decreased staff presence should be obvious to older students and adults in the buildings within a couple of weeks. The crisis team will evaluate all proposed activities to determine when to change strategies or add new ones.
The leadership of the PEA knows that you don’t have enough time to do all your work now. Coming later and/or leaving earlier will be a burden. You’ll have to grade papers, organize lesson plans, call parents, etc. from somewhere other than your classroom. If you are an early bird, you may find it necessary to leave home at your usual time, but stop at the coffee shop to do your work before actually reporting to your classroom. Crisis activities are not easy nor fun. They are, however, necessary if we want to send the message that we are not pleased with the way things are. If we don’t change our behaviors in a clear, noticeable way, the district will assume we are content with our current contract situation, and the accompanying loss of pay and loss of steps.
The crisis team is also preparing a “fact sheet” of information to give to community members — you friends, neighbors (in Parchment) and parents. Look for this soon.
We cannot succeed without unanimity. Divided, we fall.