This is the text of the statement delivered by District 65 Educators’ Council (DEC) President Maria Barroso at the Oct. 11 meeting of the District 65 Personnel, Building & Grounds and Finance Committee:
I am Maria Barroso, the DEC President. Again, I am here to state that
District 65 continues to be a toxic working environment. We have power
hungry administrators that do not center students because they deplete
educators’ energy with unnecessary and cumbersome tasks.
This district does not trust the professionals, yet they expect us to keep
students safe in case there is a crisis. Educators can’t take care of the
students because they are spread thin and drained with the enormous
increase of workload. This district believes it is necessary to micromanage
educators and make sure they do a lot of work. All these demands
are futile to students’ well-being because they take away our
focus. We have to follow scripted curriculums. Then, we have to
rewrite them over again, so our lessons are written out step by
step. This is a waste of time and energy. The district wants to
“police” our work because they believe we are not doing our job.
We are short staffed in this district, as many other communities are too.
We do not have enough bus drivers, bus aides and lunch supervisors.
The lack of supervision in our schools creates more conflicts that roll into
the classrooms and then are handled by the educators, who are on the
frontline and are drained from an immense amount of paperwork. We
don’t have all systems working properly. For example, Destiny, which is
for the librarians, is still not updated. We are expected to be ready on
day one for students, but the systems, materials and clear
communication about procedures and protocols are not in place.
Where are the emails to staff about the Tik Tok challenges? Our
schools at times are not safe, and educators along with many students
are being traumatized by students who are swearing or threatening
them. The fights among students are escalating and are getting out of
control. We are dealing with student trauma the best we can. However,
there is no restorative practice for educators with students, and this is
stipulated in our contract, pages 28-29.
Educators know how to de-escalate a situation, but our “conflict
reduction skills” are only useful when we are in buildings that support
educators with plans to handle level 3, 4 and 5 incidents. To be clear,
educators do not hug students because they fear COVID. They don’t
hug students because this action can be considered inappropriate
(especially at the middle school level), and there would be a report and
possible investigation by DCFS. We show we care about children by
coming in everyday even if it’s a difficult workplace due to the demands.
To improve the culture and climate in D65, the “gotchas” have to stop, and
restorative practice needs to be done at all levels (admin with educators
too). Administration needs to be clear with the use of Whetstones,
Instructional Rounds, Collaborative Calibration and Branching Minds data
collection of behavior incidents. Educators mistrust the use of these tools
and practices. What will they be used for? Evaluations? More work for us?
This district went straight to micromanaging educators. The schedules
were done for many buildings, so they could accommodate a nonunion
program. The lesson plans are to be scripted because apparently our
professional judgement and knowledge of pedagogy and/or specialty are in
question. Yet, if ever something bad were to happen in a school building,
the educator would be the one to protect the students. On the surface our
existence is only useful at times, and we are with students all the time.