I don’t think my words can adequately pay tribute to last night’s meeting. The heartfelt speeches given during public comment certainly stole the show. While a few of the speakers rambled a bit, most were direct and quite poignant. The meeting lasted over 2 hours, with only 20 minutes devoted to Board proceedings. I highly recommend you catch the replay on NNTV, which should be available by tomorrow’s 6pm broadcast.
There were 22 speakers in all, most of them talking at the beginning of the meeting and a few who waited to voice their opinions until the end of the evening. And there were several common themes throughout the night such as frustration with the contract situations, pro and con views of outsourcing, saving Consumer Sciences/the NHS Nursery School program from being cut, concerns over students being unsupervised during the Wednesday morning teacher solidarity marches, and the rumored work-to-contract action by the teachers.
If I had to pick one theme that stuck with me last night, it was the concern of our teachers possibly working to the letter of their contract. Two speakers addressed this topic from very different perspectives. First was Dawn Gayle (sp?) who angrily questioned why a Sandburg 7th grade field trip to Dorney Park was suddenly changed. She was followed later by Sandburg parent Kim Gallo who fought back tears as she questioned how teachers could claim to care so deeply for children yet take actions which would hurt them. Their messages were emotional and powerful, and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since.
Ok, so what of the rumored work-to-contract action? We haven’t received any official word from the NFT about the matter (yes, we’ve asked), but the rumors are everywhere, the most prevalent being that WTC will begin this coming Monday. Generally speaking, working to contract means that if it isn’t specifically in their job description and they aren’t being paid for it, a teacher won’t do it. I don’t know if teachers are permitted any discretion by their union as to what they can or cannot do. Heck, I don’t even know if there really will be a WTC action beginning on Monday. So there really isn’t much more I can say about this right now. I don’t even want to imagine a moment where a wide-eyed child approaches their teacher and asks for after-school help with an assignment, and the teacher says no. I know so many teachers in Neshaminy, and it would kill them inside to not help a student regardless of any contract impasse with the district. That’s why I hope that the rumors are false. Because if they are true, I fear the parent outrage we heard last night will grow exponentially, and an already tense situation will get far worse.
Say a prayer for false rumors.