Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween tricks courtesy of NFT

From today's Courier Times . . .

The Neshaminy school board will consider mandating schools get board approval before cancelling any traditional in-class celebrations.

This comes after the president of the parent-teacher organization at Samuel Everitt Elementary School in Middletown alerted the board Friday that teachers, who are in contract talks, did not hold Halloween parties this year, which have become a tradition.

School board member William O'Connor said Friday that board action would ensure that future holiday parties would be held. He added that teachers who don't adhere to any board order could be committing an "act of insubordination."

"The whole point would be that if for some reason (celebrations cannot be set up) by a teacher, we want to give parents that opportunity to keep that tradition going," O'Connor said.

"The teachers just didn't have (Halloween parties)," said PTO President Melissa Kitzmiller, who suspects they were canceled because of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers' work-to-contract directive. "They have them every year and usually parents are invited and many attend. I've heard that some teachers did Halloween activities in their rooms (Friday) but no parents were invited."

"I'm outraged. I don't blame the teachers. I blame the union leadership," she said. "I don't know for a fact that it has to do with the work-to-contract, but there is no doubt in my mind that's what this is about. I believe the teachers want to do the right thing but it's time for them to step up and do it."

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching NFT President Louise Boyd for comment Friday.


Webb reacts to NFT ad

School Board President Ritchie Webb was interviewed by the Courier Times regarding the recent full page ad from Louise Boyd and the NFT . . .

Neshaminy school board President Ritchie Webb was surprised to see a full-page, paid advertisement in the newspaper from Louise Boyd, president of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers.

"I found it odd because I've heard Ms. Boyd say several times that she will not negotiate in the media," he said.

"First of all, it was insulting," Webb said Thursday. "It's a little offensive that she calls 35 years' worth of board members - who are just community members who volunteer their time to try to make the community better - liars. Was it not the same 'lying' board that gave them the Rolls Royce health benefits package and a contract that is the envy of workers all over the state?"

In the ad, Boyd also addressed the union's work-to-contract directive - instructing teachers to work to the letter of their contract to show how much extra they do - which has drawn angry reactions from parents throughout the district.

"When Neshaminy students are in class, we provide them 100 percent of our teaching effort," Boyd said in the letter. "What we won't do is 'extra' work when we don't have a contract. That's not arrogance or lack of caring. That's negotiating. We have every legal and moral right to work to contract - especially when the district refuses to treat us with respect, dignity and fairness."
Most teachers did not take part in back-to-school nights and many have chosen not to decorate classroom bulletin boards as part of the work-to-contract action.

Recently, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said that teachers have every right to fight for a fair contract, but added that the work-to-contract is "hurting the kids."

Webb agreed.

"I always say, how can anything that hurts 9,000 students every day be right? It may be legal, but it's not right. She says it's just negotiations, but they are using the children as pawns," he said.

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching Boyd after sending an e-mail Thursday and Friday.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Board, NFT to meet in December

The following announcement was just posted to the Board's Negotiation website . . .

The next negotiation meeting between representatives of the Board and NFT will take place on Thursday, December 2nd, at 6pm. One of the main topics of discussion will be the Board-proposed self insured Rx plan which will save the District an estimated $1.3 million annually.

As a reminder, even though the self insured Rx pan has no impact on employees, it still requires NFT approval to be implemented.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Board Prez: It is insulting

Ritchie Webb reacts to the NFT ad in yesterday's newspaper during this interview with Fox 29 . . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Setting the story straight on Planet Neshaminy

NFT Prez Louise Boyd took out a full page ad in today's Courier Times (see below) where she embarks on a mission of "setting the story straight." I read about life according to Ms. Boyd, and the first thing that came to mind was ... OMG, is she for real?! I don't know whether to admonish her for such an amazing piece of fiction, or if I should thank her for being the PR gift that keeps on giving.

Ok, let us all set the record straight . . .

The first point Ms. Boyd makes is that the District wants you to believe the NFT is led by a bunch of "money-grubbing, fat cat, out-of-town union activists." I don't even know how to counter that because not once have I heard anyone from the District or the Board even suggest that. So if it will make her feel better, let's all agree that this is locally-based "money-grubbing."

Next on Ms. Boyd's indigestible menu is the accusation that the District has lied about its finances, expenses and budgets for past 35 years. Of course she never offers a single shred of proof to her claim, but then again why would she want to allow something as silly as FACTUAL, VERIFIABLE INFORMATION to get in the way of her rhetoric? I cannot even refute her claim because she hasn't put up a single fact that I can counter.

Ms. Boyd goes on to explain how WTC isn't harmful to your child's education, and instead defends it as neither "arrogance or lack of caring." She calls it "negotiating." I don't even have to comment . . . I'll let the parents of our students handle this one.

My very favorite line follows immediately after - "Yes, we understand times are hard. but don't forget, that just like you, we have families and we have bills and we pay taxes ..." Yeah, how about those school tax bills, Louise? Those suckers are really expensive! I wonder why?

The ad finishes with a plea to the community to get the Board to drop its one-way approach. As our Board President Ritchie Webb has said time and time again, our guiding principle throughout these negotiations has been that we will err on the side of the kids. That's it. That is our "take it or leave it" approach. If anyone out there feels we should act differently, please let us know.

NFT Ad 10272010

Teachers suspended for verbal altercation

From the front page of the Courier Times . . .

Two Neshaminy High School teachers were suspended for their part in a verbal altercation regarding a third teacher's participation in a recent back-to-school night function, a school official said Tuesday.

The punishments were handed down by the administration after an investigation, the official said. The teachers served the suspensions last week.

One teacher was suspended for five days without pay and it was recommended the teacher complete an anger management program. The other teacher was suspended for one day, also without pay, said the official.

Both teachers have filed a grievance with the district against the disciplinary actions, the official said. The grievance could eventually involve a state mediator.

The suspensions could cost the teachers about $500 per day, the official added.

You can read the complete article by clicking here.

You are welcome to post comments on the matter but I must insist that names of the teachers involved not be used in the discussion. It's certainly not that I wouldn't want to comment on the details myself, but as a school board member I am held to a different standard, and therefore so is my blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What color is the sky on Planet Neshaminy?

A Fox 29 News editorial . . .

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dissension amongst the ranks

With the growing number of teachers showing disagreement with the NFT-mandated WTC action, something like this was bound to happen. Regrettably, this alleged incident took place in a classroom in front of students.

The Courier Times' Christian Menno reported the following:

Students witnessed a verbal altercation last week between two teachers regarding one's participation in a recent back-to-school night function, according to several parents at Neshaminy High School.

Superintendent Louis Muenker confirmed that the administration is investigating an incident that took place at the high school, but added that he could not comment further because it involves personnel.

"Apparently, the one teacher came in and proceeded to scream (at the other teacher) in front of a classroom with about 30 students watching," said a parent of a student who was in the classroom during the alleged exchange. "A third teacher overheard this and (intervened). When the principal found out on Monday, every student was called down to the office and asked for a statement."

The parent added, "Now the students are being put in the middle of all this. I mean they're right there. My child was there to learn and the only thing the students learned that day was union bullying."

According to the parent, the teacher who allegedly initiated the confrontation has been involved with ongoing negotiations on behalf of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers.

According to the state's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators, a professional educator may not "knowingly and intentionally deny or impede a colleague in the exercise or enjoyment of a professional right or privilege in being an educator" or "use coercive means or promise special treatment to influence professional decisions of colleagues."

PLEASE NOTE - While this matter is under review, I cannot comment or speculate on what happens next, nor can I permit use of any names of the people involved. As always, your comments must adhere to the usual rules of civility. Thank you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stuart Varney discusses Neshaminy situation

The following segment recently appeared on the Fox Network . . .

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guess who came to BTS night?

I don't have the exact count but around 9 or 10 Neshaminy High School teachers, which is about 5% of the NHS staff, attended last night's Back-to-School event. And despite what you may have heard from those trying to discredit what happened, these were actual Neshaminy teachers. Some have indicated that these were BCIU teachers, of which between 6-8 did attend last night, but they are separate and apart from the Neshaminy certified staff who were there.

Thank you to these teachers and all others who will not allow this contract impasse to prevent them from giving complete, unmitigated effort to their students.

Here is the Courier Times article on BTS night at Neshaminy High School.