Greetings! Thank you for all you do! Being an educator today is a lot of hard work and you manage to do great things each and every day in the schools and sites you work in. So again thank you.
When is the retro check coming? We have been told the checks for teachers and administrators (the only EAW group to settle) should be in by March. All other contracts are still in negotiation.
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EXECUTIVE SECRETARY’S REPORT
Taking a Moment
We’ve reached or soon will reach the mid-point of School Year 13-14. While each year stands alone, looking back to last August, it was hard to imagine that all that has happened to date would happen. Several issues that have occupied the EAW in 13-14 to date stand out.
Evaluations – We are in year 2 of our “new” evaluation system. In many ways, this year mimics last year. Issues and concerns come chronologically with each stage of the evaluation process. Self-assessment and goals give way to educator plans, observations, educator responses, mid-year assessment and submission of evidence…. We’ve heard from many of you about issues you are facing in each stage. While all your concerns are important, there is one that overlays all. This is a process that is supposed to be instructive and collegial and not adversarial. I’ve read too many observations that are entirely negative, just a snap shot of a moment in your practice that the observer may not fully grasp. It would be better for us all if there was recognition of what is positive along with any negative. You have challenging work and you work hard at it and do it well. This should not be forgotten in the effort to become even better.
School safety – School safety covers a lot of ground. There is the need to be safe from physical and emotional assault each day at work. There have been a number of threats and assaults this year to teachers and aides by students. The District does investigate these matters but the presence of the alleged offender in your room or building sometimes after punishment often becomes a continuing matter of concern. There has been a growing public concern that too many suspensions/expulsions results in more dropouts. But there is a need to balance safety and order in the schoolhouse, which benefits learning, against disruption caused by a very few students. It seems that the balance remains elusive.
There is also the health side to safe schools. Increasingly, in the old school buildings in Worcester, the EAW hears of problems about environment and air. The District does respond to these issues but solutions may not be immediate or lasting. The staff at City View called the Board of Health just before the holidays over chronic odors that had intensified. This is not the only school where the EAW has heard of such concerns. We will be continuing to work on this issue year. Your work environment is your students learning environment.
Sometimes, staff personal relations in a building are difficult. The EAW has heard from you about behavior that I would, on occasion, characterize as bullying. I’m not talking about student bullying but about adults behaving in a very boorish manner. Sometimes, it is those in authority acting in less than a professional manner. If we hear of such instances, we bring them to the District and again they do respond though we are not privy to all details. One troubling development has been the increase in member-to-member issues. These put the EAW in the difficult position of having to work with members in conflict to try to avoid a hostile work environment. We represent all EAW members and we strive to avoid taking sides when we try to work out issues.
On occasion, we hear from a principal who doesn’t believe we need to be in the building on such matters. While we support strong delegate and member activism to resolve issues in each building, a principal saying that he or she does not want the EAW in the building is courting an unfair labor practice.
I really enjoy hearing about what goes well in your classroom and what doesn’t and how you work to improve it. To paraphrase a recent NEA article, in a world where so many non-educators—especially those seeking personal or corporate profit—want to tell teachers exactly what to do and say, it’s important to listen to those who know best. The people who know best how to lead the teaching profession are teachers not the education profiteers seeking to get rich by privatizing public education. The EAW will continue to fight to give you voice.