Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

Can’t we all just get along?

October 6, 2005

It is easy to appreciate a negotiating team concerned with making sure teachers get what they can. It is equally as nice to have a school board that spends money responsibly, while at the same time, takes care of its teachers. However, when the two can't see eye to eye, things start to get ugly.

When I started working for Eudora USD 491, I was most impressed with the then two-year agreement between the board and the teachers. I bragged to my teaching friends about the awesome cooperative, progressive relationship the board and the teachers shared. They're laughing at me now.

I had the chance to return to Olathe in 2004 to teach. It was closer to home, paid more and had better benefits. Not worth it. I'd rather have standards, cooperation, support and recognition -- all things that I get in Eudora.

Citizens in Eudora may hear that teachers are underpaid. They may think teachers deserve more. I agree, we do, but in due time. In seven years of teaching, I've never been offered an increase like the one that sits before us right now. It's not as much as other teachers, but it never has been. Want more money? Go visit a Johnson County school and see if you think you'd like to be a teacher there. Not me.

We're all great teachers. We each work as hard and care just as much as any teacher you will find. We deserve as much of an increase as any teacher in the state of Kansas. But we also must be realists. When we became teachers, we accepted that historically, part of being a teacher is being underpaid. It is a government-funded job. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is. We chose to work in Eudora, knowing that they did not pay as well as some other schools. We all want as much money as we can get, but some things are more important, like knowing that our administration had our backs today and will have them tomorrow, like being able to go to the district office and actually speak with the superintendent that week, and like the idea of one day everyone teaching in a state-of-the-art, brand-new facility.

This isn't about who's right and who's wrong. It's about reaching an agreement, putting this behind us and moving forward.

The Eudora USD 491 is about progression, cooperation, and excellence. Let's believe in our superintendent and in our board. They've never given us any reason not to.

Things are getting nasty and no matter what happens, it looks like there's no way to avoid hard feelings -- hard feelings that may influence future negotiations and maybe the future of the district. This isn't what Eudora is all about.

Jason Gray

Culinary arts instructor

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