We worked without a raise in pay or increase in benefits for seven years- because we were told that it would prevent massive layoffs. And still teachers lost their jobs. Then we accepted larger class sizes- because we were assured that doing so would prevent further staff reductions. And again, positions were cut, staff was eliminated. Then came the furlough days with a salary reduction- to help meet budget deficits and prevent additional cuts. And once again, despite our sacrifices, teachers, para educators and clerical workers continued to lose their jobs or find their positions in jeopardy.
This week, I discovered that a colleague who has been teaching in the foreign language department at my school for over eighteen years was given an ultimatum; stay and take a twenty percent pay and work reduction or take another position at a completely different school. What kind of choice is that? Is that how you thank a teacher for eighteen years of dedicated service? What about all the years of increased class sizes, furloughs, pay reductions, additional duties and increased work loads born by all of us so that none of us would have to lose our jobs? Well tailored lies?
I’m about half past fed up with the sham that districts and administrations are pulling on educators by asking us to “share the pain” by taking pay cuts and furloughs, overloading our classes and reducing our benefits with the false promise to keep cuts far from the classroom when in reality they continue to cut positions and lay off staff. I am disgusted and disappointed in my professional teachers association that has remained silent and idle throughout these dire years. But mostly I am saddened that my colleagues continue to accept this unworkable situation as the new norm, without question and without complaint because they are still trying to make an impossible situation work for kids. It is time to wise up and put aside our emotional need to take care of kids for the logistical necessity of a fair and educationally conducive work environment. I’ve drawn my line, it is time for others to do the same.