Dear Parents and Community Members,
On Thursday afternoon the teachers’ union overwhelmingly voted to strike next Wednesday, September 13, if a contract is not reached prior to that date. This vote is the direct result of the Board’s imposition of teachers’ 2017-2018 contract, the second time in two years this has occurred. An imposition is not a negotiated contract. It is terms unilaterally laid out by the Board for teachers working in the district. If the Board is not willing to rescind its imposition the teachers can either accept all terms outlined or strike.
The Burlington Education Association is fighting for well resourced schools that meet students’ needs, affordable health care for teachers and all Vermonters, transparency in decision making by the district and the professional dignity to do our work through adequate preparation time and workloads. We must recognize the impact of high-quality professionals leaving our district in high numbers, budget cuts that directly impact classroom instruction and constant changes in school leadership over the last 2-3 years. Are these the schools our children deserve?
The Board and the media would like you to believe that this imposition and strike is simply about money. This conflict has almost nothing to do with money. It is about power and respect for the professionals working in our schools. The Board discounts teachers’ voices and expertise and unilaterally makes decisions that directly impact the education and well being of our children. This type of unilateral decision-making is not what we as taxpayers want and is not what our children deserve.
Plus, please know, the Board enjoys direct, one-click access to all of the city’s Front Porch Forum (FPF) lists, school communication systems with parents, and a dedicated communications staff person to issue immediate press releases. Teachers are teaching during the day and not available to the media. We were denied the ability to have full access to all the FPF lists and also are prohibited from using any school communication system to communicate directly with parents. We teach during the day and must build a grassroots system on our own to reach parents and the community outside what the media chooses to publish.
Here are a few things you can do to support our teachers and encourage the Board to negotiate and settle a fair contract before next Wednesday’s strike:
- Attend a 4:30-5:30pm picket at Hunt Middle School next Tuesday, September 12 in advance of the 6:00 Board meeting.
- Attend a 6:00 Board meeting at Hunt Middle School next Tuesday, September 12. Consider speaking on teachers’ behalf. Our goal is to have hundreds of community members at both the picket and the Board meeting.
- Contact your School Board rep and ask him or her to return to the table and settle a fair contract.
- If you live near the school volunteer to let teachers use your house for breaks or bathroom needs during the strike. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to offer your house. Please let her know what school you are connected with and your physical address.
- Picket with your schools’ teachers at your child’s school beginning on September 13. Please note that no children are permitted on the picket line.
- Become a Front Porch Forum ally. Help us post to every list in the city important updates and answers to the community’s questions.
- Put a green “Support Your Teachers” sign in your yard. Visit beaworks.com for a one-click sign drop off!
The district will announce whether it plans to keep schools open without the teachers in the coming days. In case there was a strike this fall, the BEA proactively reached out to local service organizations several days ago to explore emergency plans with local service organizations and the Director of Food Service to help parents with child care and food needs. We have connected with the Boys and Girls club, King Street Youth Center, Parks and Rec, or Sara Holbrook. Please consider utilizing the Food Shelf for immediate food needs. Please also consider supporting fellow parents with creative child care as needed. The district will communicate any details regarding food offered at schools for children during a strike. Please call Central Office for further information. We do not wish to negatively impact students or our families and thus took extra steps we could to support the most vulnerable families in our community.
Lastly, please consider visiting http://www.beaworks.com for additional information on negotiations, to view the neutral fact finding report, and for lots of other helpful and pertinent information.
Teachers thank you for your support.