Or are we a sleeping GIANT?
I think more and more of us are feeling that sinking sensation in our stomachs when we think about the position SDEA is in right now. Last year at this time, almost half of the 1,300 layoffs had been recalled. This year, not a single one of the 1,700 layoffs have been recalled. The district is obviously playing hardball in an attempt to coerce us into opening our contracts which means they must truly believe that they have a shot at making it happen. For the first time in my teaching career, it feels like the District is winning and we are about to lose everything we have fought for over the years.
Specific actions we can take now:
3) Schedule an accountability session with your school’s Board member. Sit down with the Board members, present our arguments and evidence, and ask them to change their vote. Ask for help to do this if you need it! We have many amazing members that can step up and help.
4) Join forces with another school to distribute flyers. We are creating flyers that will explain to students’ families why cuts to our schools are unnecessary. But a piece of paper is only as good as the conversation that goes with it. Let’s partner up between secondary and elementary so that we can hand out flyers and have conversations with families before and after school when they are dropping off or picking up. Plus, the media seems to actually show up for these types of events!
5) Spread the word with emails and social media. Forward this email to your friends at other schools. Ask them what they are doing to fight back against the cuts. Like The Breakfast Club San Diego page on Facebook and subscribe to our blog to receive updates.
Last year, SDEA members scheduled and conducted accountability sessions with Board members. We didn’t just stand outside Board meetings with picket signs and passive-aggressively hope that they heard our chants and changed their minds. We spoke face to face with them outside of the district office and presented our arguments with supporting evidence. It is much easier to ignore a faceless, distant group than a person sitting across the table from you. We needed to sit down in small group sessions with our Board members two months ago. But luckily, we still have time to fix this! Get a core group on your campus and call your Board member to schedule a chat. Please contact us through our blog if you would like help.
2) Logical arguments with supporting evidence. I want to “Save Our Schools” as much as the next person, but slogans do not change minds. Logical arguments supported by facts/history/data/reason do. We work for a district with a decades-long history of systematically underpaying its teachers, threatening its teachers, and laying off its teachers and classified staff. The San Diego Union Tribune recently published an article that stated that during 2010-2011, our district had over $95 MILLION in its general reserve fund. This is the same year that the district pled poverty to the Board and slashed our classified staff to the bone. Our Board members need to be reminded that they are listening to the District that Cried Wolf when they listen to SDUSD budget predictions.
3) Public outreach and media coverage –starting with Teacher Appreciation Day. If a protest chant falls from the lips of SDEA members at a rally and there is no media there to hear it, does it still make a sound? NO! We can have all the logical arguments and evidence in the world, but if our message doesn’t reach our audience then our efforts are in vain. (And I *totally* had some good signs at the May Day rally, yo.) My action group has started a blog and Facebook page to help spread our message and unify educators, school staff, community members, families, students, and whoever else would like to help stop the evisceration of our public schools. We need to have conversations with our friends, neighbors, and anyone else that will listen and then have them take action and tell Board members to change their votes. This Teacher Appreciation Day, ask for emails instead of earrings! Our students’ families are our biggest allies. We need them to know that their children are being short-changed while SDUSD has tens of millions of dollars squirrel away in the general reserve fund and while it continues to pay for expensive district-level programs and administrators.
4) Stay united. What the heck does it mean if a bubble is over your school? How does a new teacher not get a pink slip? What is skipping? But more importantly, why are we even having these conversations?!? This has got to be the easiest way for the district to divide us and keep us arguing amongst ourselves. In my eleven years of teaching, I have never heard of the skipping method that is being used in the layoffs. And I’ll admit, the first time it was explained to me, skipping made sense. My kids are in a Spanish immersion program, of course those teachers should be protected from layoffs in order to preserve the program, right? Wrong! Thankfully, I noticed that I had walked into the district’s trap. We are only stronger than the district when we stand together! SDUSD has the money. Do not let them scare, intimidate, or distract us by pitting us against each other. Do not take your eyes off the prize or it will be snatched away from all of us. Last year this wasn’t an issue because SDEA squashed it from the very start. What happened this year? Is it too late to correct our course on this issue?
It’s Time to Wake the Sleeping Giant!!!