Thursday, September 9, 2010

So... you remember this post? The one where I said it was my first day back at work and that kids were arriving on Wednesday? It never happened.  Tuesday morning, instead of an opening staff meeting and work day with our colleagues, we had a Ferndale Education Association meeting and voted to strike.  The bargaining team has been trying to negotiate a contract for us since Spring and was hopeful that something would fall into place during their negotiations over the long weekend.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  So I am on strike.

Here is the official statement from the Ferndale Education Association:
Ferndale educators voted overwhelmingly to go on strike and stand behind their bargaining team.
FEA members voted – 91 percent YES – at their general membership meeting, telling their bargainers to continue to find a fair and just settlement for them. It’s time to say “No more!” to the district’s unwillingness to address critical issues that impact our students.

All of the surrounding districts give their elementary teachers far more support in their planning time for student learning. Ferndale elementary teachers must be given adequate time to plan lessons, collaborate with other staff members and carry out other responsibilities to help their students meet learning requirements.  

“We want students in this community to continue to get a great education,” Ferndale Education Association President Tracie Morris said. “Our students deserve the best we can give, but the lack of planning time is negatively impacting the way we teach.

“Our members talked long and hard about this decision,” Morris said. “Together we are telling the district that we mean business and that we are not going to go back to school until we receive a fair and equitable contract.”

Ferndale Schools Superintendent Linda Quinn called parents shortly after FEA’s general membership meeting to let them know that school is canceled Wednesday.

The graphic below shows the discrepancy between elementary planning time in Ferndale versus some of the surrounding school districts. The "extra" planning time that the union is asking for time that was lost when librarians and counselors were cut from elementary schools at the end of last year. We are just trying to get to that 150 minutes a week mark.  And yes, that is only 6 minutes more a day.
If you like to know more, you can check for updates at the FEA website or their facebook page.  The FEA also wrote a letter to parents in the community, sharing what is going on and how hard it is for us teachers to be on strike.  There have been many stories but here is one from King 5 News and one from the Bellingham Herald.

I am not a political person and I hate conflict.  But personally, I agree that Elementary School teachers need the planning time that the union is negotiating for. And, if I were an elementary school teacher, I would want their support. So I am happy to support them. I also want more choices in my health care plan, something that won't cost the district any money but that they won't agree to.  So, although I am in agreement with the teacher's union that I am a part of, and I support the strike, I wish it wasn't happening.  I want to be in a classroom with my students.  I want to be tired from from running AROUND IN the school building not walking back and forth on the sidewalk IN FRONT of it.  As much as I love my coworkers and the community support we are receiving, I would much rather be spending those hours talking to my students about their experiences this summer and what we are going to learn this year.  I don't want to spend full-time days walking the streets of Ferndale this month, and then go to school until the middle of July while we make up those days.  I appreciate our bargaining team and I trust them.  I know that they have put in long hard hours all summer long and that, at this point, this is our best option.  But all this disagreement seems like an enormous waste of time and energy and money all around and I hope that we get back to teaching soon.

P.S.  I am way more sore from walking all day than from our hike last weekend.  And walking on the same block from 730-3 is harder mentally than you would think.  As of Wednesday night, I'm beat. 

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