Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hypocrisy Masquerading as Honesty

More than 70 teachers, staff, and community members attended the October 18th Board Meeting. As members exited the closed session at 7:30, they were greeted by 70 plus chanting, picket carrying, unhappy employees who lined corridor leading to the multi-use where the meeting was held. Again, the Board chose not to reorder the agenda, making the teachers wait over an hour to arrive at the public portion (Items not on the Agenda), where five speakers had signed up to speak. Five times three minutes: 15 minutes... relegated to the meetings end... because employee and community input is not valued; although, the Board pretends it is. Here are the notes I spoke from:

Hi, it's me again.
The last Board meeting began with a resolution for Character Education month.
Mrs. Averill felt that honesty needed to promoted. And it was.
How nice.
But after all, this is Lowell Joint where honesty is valued?
Or is it?

Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to have beliefs and virtues that one does not actually have.
Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie. (Wiki-pedia)

After welcoming the public and presidents at the last meeting...
You proceeded to cut short one of the public speakers; although there were only two.
I thought you said we were welcome?
Perhaps you meant to say,
"You're welcome just as long as you sit and play nice. Be seen, but not heard... the grown-ups are talking."

And who was it you gaveled? Your own Teacher of the Year.
She's the best of the best... and you can only give her three minutes?

Maybe that's not too surprising, since not long ago you did the same thing to the president of the CSEA.
That too smacks of hypocrisy.

You pretend to welcome us, but you are unwilling to listen to us.
You might protest, but I simply point to the minutes from the last meeting...
There was a slight change in language...
"…public opinion will be limited to 1/2 hour…”
Not satisfied with a three-minute per person cap... someone suggested to the board that a 30 minute cap was a good idea.
Just in case?
The previous language was good enough for decades... but no longer.

Recently CSEA voted against an offer made in negotiations.
One member was appalled at how much language had changed.
Language that had little or nothing to do with a salary schedule or compensation.
Why was it changed?
Just in case?
The previous language was good enough for decades... but no longer.

A recent newspaper article quoted the Superintendent as saying, "We know how the teachers feel..."

We are skeptical of your language changes... we feel repeatedly hoodwinked.

Little language changes... buried in the notes... or contract... or where else?
We feel lied to.
And you should understand.
What other posturing has been done in the contract, in the minutes, behind closed doors, etc.?
I feel manipulated!
And you should understand why.

 You say you value and appreciate teachers,

But you install language to limit our voice (per person),
and you install language to limit our voice collectively (30 minutes).
If this is how you treat us in public...
should we expect that you'd treat us any differently at a negotiating table?

November is coming, and with it some new board members.
Hopefully, they will bring with them a new era in Lowell Joint characterized by genuine honesty.
We're tired of hypocrisy masquerading as honesty.
We're tired of manipulation masquerading as transparency.
But then... you know how we feel.
And, you know why.

Before and after the meeting I spoke with several parents, candidates, fellow staff members, and even the two presenters from LACOE. November is coming... 

Will there be an October miracle? A fair contract? Let's hope so.

Regardless of the contract issues, the voters of Lowell Joint finally have some choice for new blood, new representation, new behaviors, and a new future. The issues of Lowell Joint run deeper than contract negotiations, but then... November is coming...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A (open) letter to the Board: K. Daniel (9/27/2010)

Each of the board members acknowledged the receipt of 18 to 20 e-mails at the last board meeting. A fellow teacher on my campus shared hers with me as well, and with her permission, I share it here:

September 27, 2010

Dear Board Members:

In the first unit of the 6th grade Lit book the Big Question is" HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT IS TRUE"  Students are taught to confirm, determine, examine evidence, test and investigate to determine what is true.

In chapter 8 lesson 9 of the math text the title is Misleading Statistics.  Students learn to identify biased displays and misleading statistics.

HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT IS TRUE?  That is the same question I'm asking of you now.  

How do you explain an average third year projection that is 540% off?    How do you reconcile the enrollment numbers?  We know exactly how many students are filling the seats of our classrooms. Do you?

We have an 18% reserve, far more than needed.  And finally, the Job's bill is coming.

All these facts can be checked and verified as being true. It is wrong to lie to us or at the very least "Handle the truth recklessly", as my mom would say.

At times it seems that you forget or lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with educated, intelligent and articulate people.  How is it that the students of Lowell Joint became "Distinguished"?

It is your responsibility to check and verify the facts , as we have done,  Stop taking Dr. Howell at her word.  She doesn't tell the truth. She is building an enormous reserve on the backs of dedicated teachers.  This will not stand.

Thank you for reading this letter.

Kari Daniel

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What do I dream of?

At last night's Board meeting (10/4/10), I took advantage of the opportunity to direct my remarks to those seeking the office of School Board Member since many candidates were in attendance. After the meeting, I was able to converse with several of them. Here is a copy of my speech:

I dream of…

Of a time when teacher input is respected and regarded at board meetings, not relegated to the end of the meeting and restricted by a timer.

Of a time teachers can concentrate on teaching and not contract negotiations.

I dream of Monday Night Football instead of Monday Night Board meetings, because I can trust that those who ran for office are providing the public service they promised.

I dream of…

Of a time when Board Members voice an opinion instead of a party line.

Of a time when Board members can give an informed personal report on the school they represent because they’ve talked with parents, teachers, students, and staff, in addition to remarks prepared by the site principals.

Of a time when Board members understand that Distinguished School Awards have more to do with an experienced teacher’s practice and sacrifice than with a Superintendent's ambition and mandate.

Of a time when the Lowell Joint Board Members begin a Superintendent replacement search, instead of rewarding an unpopular incumbent with a long and luxurious contract extension.

I dream of…

Of a time when the District Office is once again considered a resource and service center instead of a source of requirements, restrictions, and obstructions.

Of a time when the Superintendent is more likely to cut her own luxurious car allowance rather than cutting the noon duty aides salary by 26% to a near minimum wage level.

I dream of when Lowell Joint's Superintendent and Board are not blaming the budget crisis, but are rising to present challenges with inspired leadership, innovation, and fairness.

I dream of…

Parents who are well-informed enough about who will best represent their neighborhoods on the School Board and get out to the polls to make that a reality.

Of a time when new blood on the Board is common and business as usual is a thing of the past.

Board Members and Board Candidates...

What do you dream of?

I dream that some of you will make some of my dreams come true.

Thank you.