Happy (Belated) New Year!
It’s been such an honor to serve as your PAT President for the past 7 months. We’ve accomplished so much in such a short time, and there’s even more ahead of us in 2017.
Superintendent Carole Smith resigned in the wake of a scandal that confirmed everything we’ve been saying about District leadership for years. After several months working with our interim superintendent, we’re cautiously optimistic that our District can finally be restructured into a more clear and transparent system. For example, one area where things are beginning to change is principal accountability. Though we still have schools in crisis, and others where poor administration has led to high staff turnover, the number is decreasing. But, while we’re moving in the right direction, significant changes still haven’t reached those most impacted, namely our students and those working directly with them. We will continue to press these issues as part of the search process for a permanent superintendent.
We are currently in the process of ratifying a series of agreements we’ve reached thus far with the District. Negotiations continue and we hope to complete this process in April. You can get more details in the latest bargaining brief, but I wanted to thank everyone for their advocacy and help with negotiations, especially our bargaining team members.
We’re also at the bargaining table negotiating a new substitute contract. Although it's time-consuming, bargaining both contracts at the same time increases our leverage with the District and gives us ample opportunity to support one another. Members of both bargaining teams will attend a statewide event this Saturday to help coordinate our bargaining with what’s happening in other teacher union locals.
Our racial equity task force is up and running and its first priority is conducting a listening campaign with all our educators of color. Though we’ve missed two meetings due to snow, we are still planning on completing the listening campaign by the end of the school year.
Despite all our hard work, we fell short in some key areas of our political work this fall. Several ballot measures passed that specify how the state should spend its education budget, the one that would have actually increased the education budget did not. This will have a direct impact on our contract negotiations and it means we need to keep pushing to fully fund our public schools. This spring we will ask you to get involved in our statewide legislative campaign for a budget that holds our students harmless. We will also face national battles that could shape the future of our profession and our public schools. Closer to home, school board races are in May as well as a potential bond measure.
Of course, we’ve done more, and have more to do. This work couldn’t be accomplished without all of your hard work as well as dedicated staff. We won’t stop fighting for the schools our students deserve.