Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Once upon a time

October 13, 2005

Jason Gray's recent letter to the editor was commendable. Jason, your pride in teaching in the Eudora district is keenly felt and widely shared, and the apparent discomfort you feel as a result of the current status of negotiations is not yours alone. In good faith, you have asked us to put contentious issues in the past and aim together for a progressive future.

However, with all this good intent, it was still rather startling to read your assertion that "part of being a teacher is being underpaid." Such an attitude is hardly progressive. Moreover, it's an attitude that indicates a lack of awareness of the history in our own backyard.

Consider the following:

Once upon a time, teachers in Eudora received no contributions toward their health insurance.

Once upon a time, teachers in Eudora received no reimbursement for their college tuition.

Once upon a time, teachers in Eudora did not receive early dismissal time to take care of state-mandated curriculum work.

Once upon a time, Eudora teachers had no community sick pool to draw from in an emergency.

Once upon a time, teachers could not use professional development points to move across the salary schedule.

Once upon a time, teachers in Eudora could not leave the building to go to lunch.

I take it as a given, Jason, that you appreciate all of the benefits listed above. I suspect, too, that you would have rejected the idea that "teachers should not be allowed to leave school for lunch because that's the way it's always been."

Further, I don't believe you have any first-hand experience with the enormous amount of effort and the occasional bouts of uncomfortable controversy we have all endured in the past to gain these benefits.

Perspective on the past puts new light on the present, Jason. Likewise, before you trumpet a rush to the future, make sure you understand the present issues.

For example, do you realize that some of your colleagues receive only 32 minutes of plan time? Do you realize that some of your colleagues perform high-level professional work for the district in the summer and receive about one-half their daily wages?

Do you realize that with the support of all teachers, we are working to correct these inequities at the bargaining table this year? Surely, as concerned as you are with the health of the district, you do not support the continuance of these inequities.

Ultimately, Jason, you make the call about your own current status, but some of us have a longer and broader view of things.

Let me make it clear that I'm in complete agreement with you about one thing. Like you, I know there are great people in the Eudora community. Like you, I know there are great people in the Eudora schools. The small difference, Jason, is that most of us realize that our contract requests are not an insult.

The big difference, Jason, is that nearly all of us are working against the idea that teachers should expect to be underpaid. That idea, we believe, belongs to "Once Upon A Time."

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