Dear DEC Members,

Yesterday you received yet another communication from Superintendent Goren and Board President Chow “updating” you about the status of contract negotiations. We know that many of you are angry with these communications being sent directly to you but we want you to know that the District 65 Educators’ Council will continue to work for our students, teachers, and classrooms.

In their communication, Superintendent Goren and Board President Chow stated that, “We missed out on negotiations time during June and July when the DEC team declined to negotiate.”  We have two responses to this statement.  First of all, unlike the members of the Board’s team who are twelve month employees, teachers are ten month employees.  Second of all, the statement is not true.  On June 8, 2016, DEC offered the superintendent a full day of bargaining on July 21, 2016.  On June 30, 2016, the Superintendent said that he had misunderstood DEC’s offer.  DEC said that the full day of bargaining on July 21, 2016, was still available but the Superintendent later said that they preferred a “small group discussion” on that day.  DEC agreed to participate.  We want to make it clear to our teachers that Dr. Goren began active participation at the bargaining table on August 15, 2016 and Board President Chow began active participation at the bargaining table on September 7, 2016.

While we find it unfortunate that the Superintendent and Board President publicly revealed one of the many issues remaining on the table, DEC is pleased that Superintendent Goren and Board President Chow acknowledge that a 5th day of planning for K-5 schools is essential to our teachers and of high importance in addressing the needs of our diverse population. But our teachers know that actions speak louder than words. We agree with the Superintendent and Board President that this time is necessary for teachers and that it will make them better able to support children, parents, and classrooms.  In addition to their need for time during the school day to address student concerns, communicate with parents and staff, engage in effective lesson planning, and work with their teams, K-5 teachers and classrooms have recently been assigned more to do with Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, Sharing Circles, Restorative Justice, the K-5 Literacy Framework, Reader’s Workshop, ST Math, and Student Learning Objectives.

All of our teachers are hard workers, dedicated to the children, and highly professional, but implementing any new program or practice requires effective planning and that requires time.  We know that when teachers hear that providing them with the planning time that they need to do their job is a “significant concession,” they are understandably frustrated.  That frustration is compounded when they see many of the Board’s expenditures that seem far away from the classrooms (consultants, car allowances, bonuses, annuities, flexible “work from home” schedules and trips).  Our teachers wonder how something that “so important” and that will have a positive impact for thousands of children can be put off for years.

DEC is frequently asked about our priorities.  We can say the same thing about the Superintendent and the School Board.  Where are your priorities?  Teachers are telling you what they need in order to better support students and classrooms.  Don’t just listen to them, take action.

Paula Zelinski, District 65 Educators’Council President