The Evergreen Teachers
EV Times Editorial
Comments from Nov. 14 School Board Meeting
Good Evening Trustees, Colleagues, and Community Members,
At last month's school board meeting I stated, "We must remain vigilant regarding proposed decisions by district officials and school board trustees and give feedback loud and clear when mistakes are imminent."
The good news about the 3-2 split vote on our new contract is it has now become crystal clear exactly who needs to be educated. I preface my comments by emphasizing school board trustees always have a right to decide how they will vote on any issue before them. As a country, we just celebrated Veterans Day honoring the men and women who fought to maintain this basic freedom. However, ratifying a contract is fundamentally different.
By voting, "No," Trustees Mace and Zito have demonstrated a lack of understanding of (or belief in) the law. The Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) states negotiations teams must have the authority to bargain and reach an agreement. If certain board members stubbornly refuse to grant the necessary power to district personnel, maybe they should consider bargaining themselves.
This lack of faith in their own management team is very troubling because it undermines the ability of the Superintendent and her cabinet to do their jobs effectively. After an 18 month contentious struggle that finally ended in an acceptable compromise including a sharing of future benefit costs, the emphasis should be on rebuilding trust and repairing relationships.
Instead, Board President Zito is quoted in the Oct. 24th edition of the Evergreen Times making misleading and inflammatory statements about the district's budget. His divisive comments give the impression of a calculating politician more concerned about his campaign for reelection than the students trusted to his care.
I suppose he could have been misquoted. I certainly was. The same article attributes the following statement to me, "Now we can move forward and focus on the kids." The problem with these words, besides the fact that I didn't utter them, is they imply teachers weren't focused on the kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most amazing aspect of the last year and a half has been watching the people I represent remain totally focused on their classrooms and the needs of each and every one of their students despite the lack of progress in negotiations.
Of course, basically school board trustees should have the same goal, governing the district in a way that successfully meets the needs of all the children in the community we serve. To do so productively, these five people must work together to build a culture of collaboration and consensus. Unfortunately, several members appear more interested in creating conflict and controversy with the goal of furthering personal political agendas. The unintended consequence of their actions (at least I hope it was not the purpose) has been to undermine Evergreen's ability to move forward.
I realize my comments may be viewed by some as those of a union leader unfairly attacking well-meaning board members. However, the key fact to remember is Trustees Mace and Zito chose to vote no on a legally negotiated and financially sustainable agreement. The question is why.
I end how I began and encourage community members to join with teachers. We must all remain vigilant. Together we can have a positive influence on the process and institute necessary changes.
Brian Wheatley, ETA President
408-272-0601 ext. 215
Dates to Remember
|Trust Meeting||December Newsletter||2013-14 ESD Calendar|
|Members Guide||ETA Meeting Dates||Code of Conduct|