I don’t have a dog in this fight, since I graduated high school more than 20 years ago, and I don’t have kids in school. I am a citizen who’s concerned about educational issues though. So I thought I’d weigh in.
I saw a story yesterday that 80 BVSD teachers in Broomfield, CO. had called in and said they were not showing up for work for the day. Students were planning on attending review sessions with their teachers for finals next week. Oh well. The school district hurriedly found substitute teachers to replace the ones who didn’t show up (apparently there was no advance notice of this event). Kids either sat in class with no activities, or “watched movies” as a few put it.
What was behind the walkout was a contractual dispute with the school district. From what I can surmise from the comments that followed the article (follow the above link), contract negotiations were in progress. The understanding of the teachers was that the district was going to be fully funded with no cuts, but the district kept coming back with lower offers for the teachers (in terms of raises), and possibly beefy offers for administrators (I’m not clear on that part). The fact that administrators were making more than the teachers wasn’t surprising to me. I knew this was the case 16 years ago. As far as I’m concerned this is the way it’s been and the way it always will be in public schools. Some commenters said that in a few cases teachers make more than administrators (if the teacher has upped their pay with higher credentials, and the principal is new, for example).
Anyway the teachers reacted, and in my opinion the students suffered for it. Finals are an important and stressful time for students as things are. For teachers to do this at this time just adds to the stress, not to mention some confusion. They don’t need this right now.
From the way teachers were describing the situation, they’ve been feeling financially stressed, and to boot they were feeling shafted. Well in my estimation they shafted their students and caused them stress yesterday. How about we leave the students out of the dispute, okay? They don’t deserve this. It’s apparent to me these teachers were not thinking about how their actions would affect students. There’s a time and a place for this sort of thing, and now is not it.
Edit 5/20/09: More “sick outs” have been happening this week, now in Boulder, to protest contract negotiations. Here’s an editorial in the Denver Post about it which echoes my sentiments.