I am, of course, referring to last night's walk-out by the NFT rank and file after their leaders addressed the Board and audience. Perhaps the event was best summarized by the Courier's Rachel Canelli in her article where she says "They came. They spoke. They left." That pretty much says it all as far as I'm concerned, but there were many angry parents last night who used other words to describe it. They yelled at the departing teachers during their mass exodus, questioning why they weren't willing to listen to the parents. I heard one person exclaim that the teachers already turned their backs on the students and now they were turning their backs on the parents.
At the end of the meeting, with only parents and a few teachers straggling in the back to observe the aftermath, my fellow board member Kim Koutsouradis apologized to the audience by saying they deserved more respect from the teachers. He was right, they did. We all did.
I know that tensions are high, and that our teachers are feeling a great deal of pressure because of this contract impasse, but it's pressure they've brought upon themselves. This isn't just the Board who is frustrated with the situation. It's parents, and students, and tax payers, and even members of NESPA. When it comes to this contract dispute, the teachers' support base is virtually nonexistent. But they knew that coming into the meeting, and still they chose to walk out on the very people who pay their salary. A very odd decision, especially in light of a newly scheduled meeting with the Board's Negotiation Team later this week. Yes, very odd.
I don't know what to expect on Thursday, but I will be anxiously awaiting word from our Negotiation Team. There is one thing I do know, even if the NFT doesn't. Paying for benefits is on the table. If that wasn't made clear by the Board in the past, it was made loud and clear by those parents and tax payers in attendance at last night's meeting. The Board heard you.
What I don't know is if the NFT heard you. They had already left the meeting.
(Below is a Fox 29's report on last night, accompanied by a great picture [right] taken by Courier Times photographer Steve Gengler that captures some of the tension from the meeting)