Dear Teachers and Support Staff:
We, the ground troops of public education, on the front lines daily for years, have delivered each and every year for MDCPS and for our communities.
Whichever way MDCPS and Florida have decided success would be defined, we have produced.
We have garnered award after award for our leaders, allowing them to be flown around the world to speak about OUR successes.
While THEY bask in the glow of our hard work, they pass resolutions for their salaries, for their healthcare, for their board paid expenses (phones, cars, meals)…we work hard under the ever increasing threat of surplussing, of the euphemism currently being used by both UTD and MDCPS for firing: “not being rehired…”
Yet we, the foundation of MDCPS, the ones who make teaching and learning happen everyday, we have been neglected and deceived about our pay, our benefits, and our security.
Chicago teachers just reminded us of the power in unity, in UNIONIZED teachers and support staff. 2 weeks of aggressive, unpleasant action secured for them the respect they deserve- in pay and action- unlike the respect in WORDS ONLY our weak union leadership has settled for- Holiday Greeting emails from Carvalho and Board members…when our mortgages are in jeopardy, our decisions are between the phone bill and food, annually our colleagues swamp the HR office with requests of proof of income to file for foodstamps and government aid, most of our colleagues with families cannot afford the MDCPS owned and operated CIGNA Health Insurance and many are on government welfare “Florida Healthy Kids.”
We haven’t see a raise in years. Wonderful promises are made every 3 years of this step improvement or that. But only half a year of a raise has been delivered by this union and school administration in 6 years. While they say they have saved jobs and point to “No Firings,” what they fail to tell you is that they have established a system to reduce employees by “Not Rehiring.” Its the same as firing.
We have surrendered our security and healthcare for a lie.
The truth is, the contract expired in July, as it does EVERY 3 years. The truth is, it is delayed to allow the district to only pay half of any step/raise used as bait to foist further loss of academic and professional dignity and freedom. The truth is, the union goes along with this because they have timed the union election cycle to coincide with the contract expiration cycle- allowing them to campaign in December for the contract, all while smiling and saying “by the way, if you like these promises, remember, we’re running for re-election in February.”
The truth is, this union leadership has FAILED to negotiate a contract in time to avoid loss of pay. The truth is, this union leadership has failed to uphold the law that states even if the contract expires, the raise and step terms are still to be honored. The truth is, this union leadership has never asked for nor insisted on your back pay for their failure to provide the new contract terms in a timely fashion.
Educators, we have a golden opportunity on hand to act like a real union of laborers- to act as the teachers in Chicago did recently and demand and receive dignity.
It will not be pleasant, but the rewards are great. Chicago teachers did not have a pleasant task, but they knew their future professional respect and treatment was at stake- AS IS OURS.
Our superintendent, Carvalho, has made a big gamble to convince the Miami taxpayers/voters to support his $1.2 Billion bond, voluntarily raising their taxes on average $10 per household.
Among other needed school infrastructural renovations is the purposing of a portion of this money to technology, a move feared by many teachers as further euphemistic language for elimination of teachers through virtual “teaching”, virtual “education.”
We ground troops – EDUCATORS- have a golden opportunity to either publicly support Carvalho’s call for increased local taxes for the schools…or to publicly condemn his request for MORE PUBLIC FUNDS.
I suggest that we prepare a massive public rally at a central, easily accessed park for 3 PM November 4th, the Sunday before the Tuesday November 6 Election Day. We will be prepared to either share with the public why we oppose further taxation of the public (ourselves included!) – on the basis of failed promises, failed delivery of functional curriculum (think Reading Plus, Read180, online textbooks, a gradebook program that crashes regularly and requires teachers to do their own verfication reports, SAP overruns and errors, substandard textbooks, purchased technology that doesn’t work and sits in closets gathering dust, etc – add your suggestions here__________)
We will rally to support Carvalho because he has made the past lies and failures to his teachers and support staff RIGHT.
We all support the renovation of our schools, just as Chicago Teachers supported being in their classrooms teaching instead of striking…but they knew enough is enough. They knew that if they didn’t take aggressive, decisive action, fewer and fewer of them would survive to pass on their wisdom and knowledge in the art of teaching in Chicago.
So too, we in Miami know that unless we act decisively, we will continue to see our academic freedom disappear, that we will see the experienced veterans eliminated just because they are more expensive, that we will see more and more of our colleagues replaced by computers and temporary hires (“Troops or ____to teachers” “Teach for America” etc), we will see promise after promise of our financial CARE broken and merely used as bait to maintain the compromised partnership between union leadership and district management.
We will give Carvalho and Aronowitz an Ultimatum – either announce to us – the educators and support staff represented by UTD- that a successor contract is ready to go into place with a respectable and long overdue raise with back pay (I’m thinking 2 steps with a couple thousand back pay due immediately) OR we will rally to show that Carvalho and MDCPS have a history of broken promises, State Attorney Investigations, Auditor General Exceptions, poor budget decisions and purchases, misplaced priorities.
The announcement must be made by Thursday, November 1st 5 PM, or we will proceed to enumerate to the public the failures of this system with monies already entrusted.
On the other hand, if they will deliver to us the message that our neglect and desperation has been heard and that our demands as educators will be met with a solid commitment to our bargaining team, we will rally to celebrate and support Carvalho’s bond initiative.
I submit this action to you as the action a Union would take in support of its members and non-members for which it has voluntarily stepped forward to represent as bargaining agent.
Shawn Beightol Beights@yahoo.com Www.shawnbeightol.com