Teachers Union Asking for Parents To Help Settle Contract
A flyer distributed by the Framingham Teachers Association asks parents to attend Tuesday's School Committee meeting and speak on behalf of the teachers to help them settle their contract.
A flyer distributed by the Framingham Teachers Association asks parents to attend Tuesday's School Committee meeting and speak on behalf of the teachers to help them settle their contract. The teacher's one-year contract ended in August.
"We, the teachers and education professionals of the Framingham Public Schools, are in a difficult contract struggle with the Framingham School Committee. Every day in classrooms all over the town, we work hard to give our students – your children and ours – the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. We aren’t asking for the sun and moon, but some basic tools and protections," says the flyer (attached to this report).
At the last School Committee meeting, Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott, who started this summer, said he is aware there is frustration with the lack of a contract. He also stated he was hopeful a contract could be reached by the end of the year.
"We go the distance for our students – but we cannot do it alone. We need the backing of our community and our school district. Please stand with us in our efforts to resolve our contract struggle," states the flyer.
A couple of elementary school PTO's have distributed the flyers to parents via its e-newsletters. Some PTOs have had the flyer distributed to parents via a private email of one of its presidents or executive board members.
The flyer to parents is a very public move by the Framingham Teachers Association, as negotiation sessions are held behind closed doors and most details are not discussed in public. The School Committee will not speak publicly on negotitations.
"The FTA is distributing these flyers to staff and to the public to raise awareness around the issues that are holding up the settlement of the contract," said Framingham Teachers Association President Sam Miskin. "This is an effort to be more transparent and yes, more public."
"The expectations placed on teachers have drastically changed over the past 10 years and these items are now more important than ever," said Miskin, who is a teacher at Framingham High.
The flyers tells parents the FTA is seeking:
- Limits on Class Sizes
- A Well-Defined Work Day
- Fair Cost of Living Adjustment
"We are not asking for crazy, ridiculous things," said Miskin on the phone Thursday.
"Agreeing on language around these items and having it in the contract is a strong commitment that these items are highly valued by the staff and by the community," said Miskin to Framingham Patch Thursday night. "We are hopeful that community members also find value in these items are willing to support the teachers of the Framingham Public Schools."
Framingham School Committee Chair David Miles said the two sides "are still talking and still negotiating."
"We are tring to decide on what we agree on. There are items that we are on the same side and there are issues we still need to negotiate," said Miles to Framingham Patch.
The distributed flyer tells parents "study after study confirms that class size matters and students in smaller classes perform better than those in larger classes. Smaller class sizes create more opportunities for teachers to give individual attention to students, allow for more student-teacher interaction and can help to close the achievement gap that unfairly harms many of our minority and low-income students."
In regards to teachers' daily work schedule, the flyer tells parents "currently, there is no contractual language that states when our work day begins and end. While we go above and beyond for our students and regularly give our own time and money to prepare for instruction, grade papers or give children additional help, unclear expectations present us with challenges. As respected professionals, we have a right to know our obligations."
And finally, the flyer discusses a cost of living raise for association members. "We are team players and we are well aware of the difficult economic times that we are all facing. We have made concessions in recent years that have resulted in significant savings – an estimated $1 million – for the town. Last year, we agreed to a zero-percent raise and cuts in health care to help ease the town’s financial burdens. In 2010, we gave back two days of pay."
The Association will be at the Dec. 4 School Committee meeting to express how important these three items are to all staff in the district, said Miskin.
Typically, the School Committee sets aside the first 15 minutes of its meeting for the public to speak. With a large crowd of teachers and parents expected to attend the Dec. 4 meeting, Miles said the Committee may be "flexible" in allowing extra time, but that he will not allow person after person to get up and say the same thing and not be able to complete items on the meeting's agenda.
Tuesday's expected standing-room only crowd won't be the first this year for a School Committee meeting.
In June, hundreds of teachers attended a School Commitee meeting - filling the room to capacity - and expressed their frustration about contract negotiations. The teachers' association's one-year contract ended in August. Negotiations had begun in early 2012, under former Superintendent of Schools Steven Hiersche, who announced he would leave in August 2011 but did not leave until June 2012.
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the King Administration Building (former BLOCKS preschool) in the Desmarais room at 7:30 p.m.