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Teachers Union Seeks Personal Info on School Committee, Urges 'Stress' Attack

The Framingham Teachers Association in an email outlined plans for "stress" attack on the School Committee, which will include finding personal information about children and spouses.

The Framingham Teachers Association sent an email to its members this week indicating a planned "stress" attack on the Framingham School Committee members.

"We, as an Association, have been through a lot in the past year: rallies, pickets, school committee meetings, etc. Over the course of the past few months, we have taken up different work actions that illustrate all that we do for our students, our schools and our community. The parents have heard our message loud and clear and they have offered support by speaking at school committee meetings, emailing school committee members and engaging in debates with some of the less informed members of the community. As all of this is going on, the school committee has been distancing themselves from the issues trying to stay protected. This cannot happen anymore. We must change our approach to focus directly on those individuals that are responsible for settling the contract, the school committee," wrote Framingham Teachers Association President Sam Miskin in an email sent Monday to the Association members.

"Many of us have felt some degree of stress in coming to work due to the contract struggles and it is not right that the committee put this on us. For all of the stress we have felt, we owe it to the committee to return the favor. It is time that we start focusing our actions specifically on the members of the Framingham school committee. They need to feel the same level of stress that we have been for the past year," wrote Miskin, who is a Framingham High School teacher and Framingham resident. "The actions that the Association will engage in after Wednesday will be a different approach. The focus will now be on making the committee feel the same stresses that we have."

Attached to the email was a survey for members of the Association to fill out to get personal information about the School Committee—where they work, where the spouses work, names and ages of their children, the School Committee member's place of worship, etc. 

"I need any/all information you know about each of the school committee members. Having as much information as possible about their lives, activities, and daily routines is crucial to design actions that will truly impact them," wrote Miskin to the Association members.

To view the survey, click here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1S_feIWMktKTmDUC7MbUIKtmxMwsuRkOSZl8hhFPmGxU/viewform

School Committee Chairman David Miles said he is aware of the email and that all of the School Committee members are aware of it, too. (Editor's Note: School Committee policy only allows for the chairman to speak for the Committee.)

Miles said this is not the first time the Association has turned its attention to School Committee members. He said a handful of years ago, the Association picketed outside his home. He was not home at the time but his wife and children, who were and still are a part of the Framingham Public Schools, were home.

Miles said the Association can picket in front of his house, but he did think asking about his place of worship, his children and his specific day-to-day activities was more than what had been done before. If the Association pickets in front of his house, Miles said he would not call Police. 

All of the School Committee members except Michael Bower have children, and five of the seven School Committee members, currently have children in the Framingham Public Schools.

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The Association has held public protests and rallys since June of 2012. They have become more frequent since December 2012.

The Framingham Teachers Association has been without a contract since August. They are seeking a new contract and want three key items:

  • Limits on Class Sizes
  • A Well-Defined Work Day
  • Fair Cost of Living Adjustment

There are

Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott said his fiscal year 2014 budget will address and fix the issue at Cameron Middle School.

Money for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) has already been set aside for the Association.

Rick March 07, 2013 at 05:20 PM
I am not sure how to contact the school committee, but I would suggest they stop negotiations with the union. Btw – I have been at my current job for almost 15 years without a contract. They can fire me at any point, and if I behaved like the union I am sure they would fire me
Rich March 07, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Lets also remember that since their contract expired, the rules of that last contract are in affect. The teachers are collecting their salaries, they have gotten their step raises, and still have all their benefits. Please indicate how that may be stressfull versus the private sector employee that is at will??
JRR March 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM
@Rick - if you wish to contact the School Committee you should email the administrative assistant to the SC - Ann Greenberg - she will forwards correspondence to all the members: agreenbe@framingham.k12.ma.us or give the office a call: (508) 626-9121
Kathy Vassar March 07, 2013 at 05:55 PM
The FTA has a Facebook page that is still up and running though the website is still down. The last FB entry seems to be for Feb 28th and there is no information about the survey.
Nicole Bowen March 07, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Sam's call to action is morally and ethically wrong! What a horrible lesson to teach the children in the district! Agree to disagree, as professionals. Do not make it personal and attack the opposition and their families! Extremely inconsiderate to publicize these actions under the guise of FTA; clearly there are teachers in the district who do not agree! (to those teachers, I thank you for your strength and clarity!) The 'survey' that Sam proposes on Google docs is a clear violation of their policy on hate, violence and illegal or offensive activities. According to Google, "Users may not share or publish content that promotes hate or violence towards other groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity." I have sent an abuse report to Google for their further investigation and encourage you to do the same. 1) Click the link to the survey (in article above) 2) Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, click REPORT ABUSE 3) Click the radio button to report the type of abuse as "Promotes hate, violence or illegal/offensive activities" (it is the second option listed) 4) Click the SUBMIT ABUSE REPORT button 5) Ensure that your report has been received by Google, if it has you will see a new window with this message from Google Docs, "Thank you for reporting abuse. Your report has been submitted and will be processed as quickly as possible." Thank you, in advance, for your participation!
Brad Evans March 07, 2013 at 06:05 PM
@McCarthyParent - how about using your REAL name. Also, last time I checked KKM is not a real name.
flyermom March 07, 2013 at 06:10 PM
The frustration is on them for doing what they are. We all know how hard all teachers from every town wok. Every person who works, works hard. Lets face it though, teachers wok less than most people do. See the town sanitaion truck driver this morning driving the trash truck, I bet he will be working tonight plowing snow. Or going to a second job to make ends meet. Teachers get the summers off, do construction workers, or real estate agents. What about the guy who fixes your car, bet he makes tons of money right. I know a guy at a car dealer ship in service who works 7-6 six days a week and still has problems with the cost of living. Big deal some classes have more than 20 kids in them, if the teacher was as great as they claim to be then they could handle it, its nothing like adding an aid to help out. This is all bull and the people of Framingham and the SC should not support the FTA any more because they have gone below the level this time. Maybe we should stand across the street from them when they picket. Its not right how they can bully and still get a fair contract. My kid would be in big trouble at school for doing something like this and they ALL should be, the whole union..even though some say they don't support what is going on..they do and we all know they have to.
Derek from Framingham March 07, 2013 at 06:52 PM
In terms of the FTA's Executive Board, a good question has been raised. Was this all Miskin's idea or did the Executive Board vote on this idea? The last available FTA website page shows the executive committee to be: Sam Miskin, Mike Koziara, Linda Renault, Deb Irvine, Rosemary Jebari, Mary Jean Flanigan, Maria Jimenez, Amy Graff, Shawna Graham, Robin Kanter, Chris Martell, and Lisa Zanella. Did all these people vote in favor of this approach as well?
Jon Siegel March 07, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I have been an avid supporter of the Framingham Schools and teachers, as I have had two kids go through the system and have been thrilled with the quality and attitude of their teachers. However this approach to contract negotiations disgusts me, and I hope (would expect) that this "stress" approach is not supported by the majority of teachers in the FTA. Shame on the leadership for this approach/tactic - there's NO better way to lose the support that you have, and will CERTAINLY NOT gain you any progress in advancing your cause. I'm very curious - what is the expected outcome of stressing the school committee members? This couldn't possibly be expected to help. The only rationale that I can see is that this just for self gratification, enabling you to "get back" at those you feel are hampering your cause?
Concerned Framingham Parent March 07, 2013 at 07:33 PM
I disagree that the School Committee "holds all the cards in negotiations." There are TWO SIDES to this. And the union can CERTAINLY prevent settlement. On the other hand, the School Committee is not characterizing the teachers as obstructive or in any way questioning their dedication to their students while at every turn the union (leadership at least) seems to be taking potshots at the VOLUNTEERS who are spending countless hours of their own time to arrive at an agreement that is fair to the teachers and the community while protecting our schools and students. For the most part, people don't run for School Committee who are not committed to education and I, for one, find it incredibly disrespectful to suggest they are shirking their responsibility. While "Framingham Parent" says "Let's hope any actions like these are avoided," suggesting that the emotion from these PATCH comments should be refocused on the volunteer School Committee members could be construed as indication that "Framingham Parent" believes such actions are acceptable. If so, Tsk tsk Signed, EVEN MORE Concerned Framingham Parent
Gina Fishman March 07, 2013 at 07:42 PM
@Rich and @Brad -- not many individuals would .... given the current climate!
Matt Rogers March 07, 2013 at 08:19 PM
I don't think CMA's assertion that the district has difficulty attracting and retaining teachers is accurate. Aside from the obvious that we're not Wellesley or Wayland, we're still a suburban enclave that young talented teachers have to compete to get competitively paid jobs in. There will always be the unsatisfied teacher or two that seeks the lock, stock homogeneity of the wealthiest districts, but not because FPS don't offer a challenging and rewarding place to teach.
Julie Wilson March 07, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Mr. Miskin is obviously trying to make a name for himself or Framingham on the national scene. When he isn't threatening to harass volunteers, he's involving himself in Seattle, Washington's issues. http://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/framingham-teachers-association-solidarity-resolution/
Susanne Olson March 08, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Finding qualified and dedicated school committee members for the betterment of FPS will now be that much more difficult. Volunteers who work countless hours for no pay, should not be subjected to a threat of such harassment. The lack of civility and professionalism is truly upsetting.
Susan Petroni (Editor) March 08, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Just posted on Framingham Patch: http://patch.com/A-27zv
Framan March 08, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Let's get a little bit of perspective here. I did not see where in Mr. Miskin talks about targeting children. He mentioned school committee members and their spouses. School Committee members are public officials, volunteers, but elected nonetheless. By putting themselves out there in this public way, they become subject to this kind of scrutiny, as Mr. Miskin does. And the School Committee should be called out when their incompetence rears its ugly head. "Incompetence," you say? Yes. Incompetence. This body, which ostensibly runs the schools, had to be told by the FINANCE COMMITTEE, to accept the money specifically allocated to the schools from the state! They were going to let upwards of $1,000,000 go down the drain. Why can't they settle a contract, which represents a fair COLA (look at the surrounding towns of Hopkinton and Marlborough, for instance)? Because they are either afraid of A) another Great Recession, or B) their own future political ventures. Well had they realized that the FTA took pay cuts and furlough days during the last financial crisis and hence would be willing to do so again, then the town would not become the laughingstock it is; but instead, they squandered all the political good will that the FTA would assume a competent committee would possess. And to tackle B, if Bower can't run a School Committee, good luck as a Selectman. I’d rather live in a town with good schools than one with no potholes; smooth streets do not increase property values.
Concerned Framingham Parent March 08, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Framan, it seems that by the time you read this article, the questions about children and places of worship had been removed from the survey.
Enough already March 08, 2013 at 12:41 PM
The teachers make a decent living wage in today's economic climate and have the nerve to complain about class size, COLA's and limiting their work day. Stop already and get back to work!
FHSSTUDENT March 08, 2013 at 01:45 PM
How about thinking about the students' stress? Grades are falling and there is absolutely nothing all of us can do anymore. Staying after is still an option, but for ten minutes exactly. There are so many kids who are in line to get help in those ten minutes that there really is no point anymore. Test corrections can take up to 45 minutes depending on the student or what test; ten minutes does not help. Mine as well not have kids stay since only one child actually speaks to the teacher as he or her is rushing around trying as hard as they can to speak to every disappointed student about not being able to help because of this contract mishap. I'm a student at Framingham, and don't know all of the details, but what I do know is this is not the answer. None of this is. And attacking other children and students most definitely will not help considering how stressed I am, and many other kids at my school. I love the teachers and I love the environment of FHS, but this has to stop. Our education can't suffer any longer. We're all looking to be proud of our effort to get high grades, we need help getting that effort.
Rich March 08, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Meanwhile the survey is still up on google docs. Story has gone viral. Perhaps the media will camp at Mr Miskin's home for a comment??
disappointedteacher March 09, 2013 at 02:22 AM
As an FPS teacher who has been very disappointed in the behavior of the FTA, I hope fellow teachers are aware that we have the right to revoke our union membership. http://www.nrtw.org/a/a_1_t.htm I have submitted my letter to the FTA so that I can do the job I am paid to do; I hated being required by the union to forsake my obligations to my students. I teach because I want to stay after school to help students, and I realize that having a salaried position means that I need to put in as many hours are necessary to get the job done. I have been disgusted with how the union's behavior has affected public opinion of my work and I have had enough of being associated with teachers unions, which care more about, for example, not allowing bad teachers to be fired than doing what is best for our children. Yes, I'd love to get paid more, but I really don't think that all teachers deserve a raise. I'd love to be paid based on how well I do my job, but that won't happen so long as the union is in power. Yes, I'd love to have a classroom of < 20 students, but that won't happen either, so long as the town is forced to divert funds for extra classrooms and positions to ineffective teachers that cannot be fired.
flyermom March 09, 2013 at 11:33 AM
disappointedteacher. Thank God someone has come to their senses. if all the teachers could see how you have faced the facts and will look to move on then this whole thing could come to an end. I wish you luck and hope you can get out without and problems from the unions leader or leaders. I have spoken to other teachers who don't support things they way they are and wish things would end now, just stop and get back to the way things were. When the economy returns to a better level then the teachers can reach a higher level and take from the tax payers pockets. As I also understand the SC really doesn't have the money to give unless they take from one program(I heard special needs has all the money).. How is that going to benifit if they take away from that program. I hope all teachers see your post and come to terms as you did, your brave to do as you did and wish you luck...
Teacher girl March 09, 2013 at 11:33 AM
There have been teachers and parents who have commented on the fact that many of us do not agree with the survey that went out at the start of the week. While many have defended us for the amount of work that is done, regardless of what’s been asked of us to do or not do, what I have read, bothers me. The bashing of teachers for actually doing their jobs-really? For example, hearing people complain about, “teachers get the summers off, do construction workers, or real estate agents?” etc…So I tried to figure out the reality of it all… Keep in mind that all figures are averages. I will also duck when finished…. Work hours: 9-3 required= 6 hours/day- 30 minutes for lunch= 5.5 The reality: 8-5= 9 hours-20 minutes for lunch=8 hours and 40 minutes/day. 180 days in a school year X8 hours and 40 minutes=1512 An “average” 9-5 job (this means NOT every job): That’s 8 hours/day- “usual” 1 hour lunch=7 hours/day X180 days= 1260. Wow! Teachers are already above the average time! Now add the work done at home or to those that stay late…. On average, remembering that not all teachers do this much, and many do more! 1 hour per night of correcting (M-F)=5 more hours… Another 4 hours on the weekend= 9 more hours per week..
Teacher girl March 09, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Recalculating: 1512 + (9 X38 weeks roughly)=1854 How long does it take to get to 1854 as noted above in average job? Adding 85 more days (85 X7=595 and 1260 +595=1855) We should have ended school on June 18th- 85 school days from that would be far past the start date of the NEXT school year. For those people who like to complain that teachers get the summers off to “sit on their butts and do nothing,” maybe you want to think again. Even on those “summers off,” some take classes, prepping for the new year, etc... So, I guess people are right- How DARE teachers take the summers off.
Very Concerned March 09, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Teacher girl, the average salary of teaching staff in Framingham is $73,653 (state average is $70,340). $73,653 divided by 180 days = $409.18/day. $409.18 divided by 6 hours (actual teaching hours) = $68.19/hour. Let's say for giggles that we divide that by 9 hours (and it is rare that I have seen a teacher in the building at 5 p.m. by the way, maybe a handful if there was a voluntary meeting they wanted to attend, but only a handful and not the norm by any stretch of the imagination), $409.18 divided by 9 = $45.46/hour. How much more are your looking for and who do you think is going to pay for it? We won't even talk about the $15K plus per teacher it costs Framingham for your benefits, which is on top of your salary. That number rises every year also. The taxpayers in Framingham who pay for approximately 60% of the Framingham public school budget are completely tapped out. There is only so much blood you can get from a stone.
JRR March 09, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Very Concerned: Just wondering if you know about health insurance benefits for all employed by Framingham - last time I heard the town paid 87%, employee 13%. Is the breakdown the same for all or does each union negotiate their benefit package?
Concerned Framingham Parent March 09, 2013 at 05:56 PM
@Teacher Girl, I understand the point you are trying to make. But I'm not sure you are accurate in talking about the "average" 9-5 job. For example, just because someone is required to be in the office from 9-5 doesn't automatically mean the only "work" 35 hours. Many people don't get that one hour lunch each day, often just 30 minutes or less and even then, lunch is often eaten at your desk while continuing to work. On top of that, in order to be ready to begin the official day right at 9, many people get to the office early to retrieve voice mail messages or read emails that have come in overnight. Often, there are meetings in the evening, so dinner may also be eaten at the desk while doing last minute preparation for that meeting. Just because someone isn't at the office also does not mean they aren't working. And with all the electronic devices which are supposed to make thing easier, many office workers are effectively on call 24-7. So, being conservative let's say our worker gets to the office at 8:30, leaves the office for 30 minute lunch every day, This person has an average of one meeting outside work hours that lasts about two hours, and takes home 45 minutes of work each day. [continued]
Concerned Framingham Parent March 09, 2013 at 06:00 PM
[continued] 8 hours/day x 5 days/week = 40 hours 1 two hour meeting after work /week = 2 hours (and how many meetings last only 2 hours??) 45 minutes work brought home x 5 days = 3.75 hours Total per week = 45.75 hours/week So, in 38 weeks, that's 1,738 hours. Yup. That's less than your example teacher. Now, during the 12 more weeks of the year that our office worker, who gets a 2-week vacation works, they log 12 x 45.75 hours = 549 hours bringing the annual total to 2,287 hours. I know that most teachers do use summer vacation to prepare for the next school year. To equal our hypothetical office worker, your example teacher would have to do 36+ hours/week all summer and during the 3 weeks off during the school year. Pretty sure there aren't too many people in ANY profession who would put in 36 hours every week while on vacation from their full-time job. Not criticizing or saying one is better than the other, not demanding anyone resign or not get paid or get benefits. ........just pointing out the OTHER side of the equation.
Very Concerned March 09, 2013 at 07:04 PM
The town negotiated in 2012 a memorandum of understanding with the Public Employee Coalition (which is representatives from each union) for the following: Network Blue NE V.3 plan or any HMO; Town - 84%; Employee - 16% BlueCare Elect HCCS or PPO; Town - 75%; Employee - 25% Medex; Town 75%; Employee - 25% https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:02uRkvfup4cJ:framingham.massteacher.org/files/2012%2520Healthcare%2520Changes%5B1%5D.pdf+framingham+teacher+health+insurance&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjO1YLPwG7w5RYmFEmdz0fkrT_mE-lJm20GfNXL0JiKF2iUxqIa_77gbQk635ZhJv3DwY8OL5FxFsfBdFfjRmwr2oCeNI3evAT28UDc0xtWCImDjwPS8oDG4w82jNKc2aLidA0f&sig=AHIEtbQjkhr7AVSC3e-FwSETQec_5i8gyg
Phyllis Steiner March 12, 2013 at 08:48 PM
This bullying approach is nauseating - and increasingly alienating. Let's stop even thinking about stooping to such a level. However, School Committee - get crackin' and do the right thing: settle the contract; compromise within reason - to the satisfaction of our incredibly dedicated teachers! You can do this. Heck, you've done it over and over and over again!

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