"But the decision this month to lay off 165 of Seattle schools' newest teachers in a "last hired, first fired" manner has got some of liberal Seattle suddenly sounding more like a conservative red state.
More than 600 school parents have signed an online petition, at supportgreatteachers.com, that calls out the teachers union for causing "great distress and upheaval" in the schools. At issue is the policy of choosing who gets laid off solely by seniority.
"Wake up and see how union refusal to consider merit is damaging the profession and our kids," wrote one parent.
"We want the best teachers, not the oldest, teaching our kids," wrote another.
"Teacher unions are an anachronism," said another.The organizers of the petition are a group of parents called Community and Parents for Public Schools. They agree what they're doing is very un-Seattle."
And to the point:
"I don't have some magic solution for how to do school layoffs. Neither do the petition organizers. What's interesting to me about this dust-up is that it feels like something is coming to a head in Seattle schools. A parent-led movement that's different from what we've seen before. Ready to poke at sacred cows. Unions and management alike."
Stick in "magic solution to _______" and fill in accountability, public engagement, etc.
What I do know:
- the PTA isn't going to cut it. Much as it pains me and despite my belief in the relevancy of the PTA, it only political on a state level. As an organized group, our PTAs could really get some attention at district headquarters but that is not going to happen as each PTA concentrates on bettering their individual school (and that's good). But, as we are seeing, no school is really an island nor is it safe from the district's strong-arm tactics.
- Is CPPS the answer? I don't know. I have been wary of this group because I felt there was always a sub-text to what they do. But maybe now is the time to joinand bring some real parent power to the table.
BUT, hear me now. Sitting on your ass is NOT GOING TO GET IT DONE. District staff COUNT on just a small number of parents to be active and/or complain. And, generally, it's the same parents. We solitary warriors have a small bit of power but only so far as being able to get others to listen. We don't necessarily get people to act.
You have to consistently write to your Board member and cc the Superintendent. You have to show up at Work Sessions and Board meetings. You have to go to these "public engagement" meetings and complain about how they process our questions/concerns. (There were two young moms at the last Assignment plan meeting at my table who, to my astonishment, openly voiced their unhappiness with the meeting structure. You go, girls!)
Don't say, "Well, I'm pissed but my kid isn't going to Jane Addams so I dodged that bullet." or "I live in the south end, don't complain to me." or "High school is really far off for my child so I don't have to worry about the LA curriculum now." Say anything like that or any other lame excuse and the district staff will win and keep hurting our schools which, for many of us, are doing a good job individually.
I know many out there are struggling financially. I know there are stresses and strains outside of school. And, God knows, we are all tired of this getting yanked around.
But I say to you, we have to say basta! (Italian for that's enough.) No more excuses. This Jane Addams thing should be the line in the sand. Do not let the district try to duck their heads and wait for yet another fiasco to blow over. They are SO counting on the coming summer break to get everyone off and out of their hair.
The day of reckoning will come. The district will implode or pressures from without will win out. The district can circle the wagons as many times as they want. It will not save what is coming. I agree with Danny; something is in the air. Is it change or just static electricity?
Go big or go home. Fight for our public education system and, at the end of the day, for the future of your child's education.