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Let's Keep the Debate Civil and Respectful

A group of Alameda Unified School District parents call for a stop to what they see as "the increasingly adversarial tone of negotiations" between the Alameda teachers' union and the school district.

Dear Editor:

Below is the text of a letter that was read at the Dec. 13 school board meeting:

As active, informed parents in the Alameda Unified School District, we are watching the deteriorating negotiations between the AEA and AUSD with increasing concern.

All of us are active volunteers in our children's classrooms and schools, as well as in the district at large. Many of us are friends with and/or collaborate with district employees, including teachers, staff, and administrators.

All of us supported Measure A and celebrated the profound unity on which the campaign was built. We also celebrated our community’s clear commitment  to our teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, the children of Alameda that was expressed in the more than two-thirds vote in favor of Measure A last March.

Yet we fear the increasingly adversarial tone of negotiations now threatens to destroy that unity – and with it our children's education, our school communities, and the long-term stability of the district.

Because of this, we'd like to offer a few guiding principles to which we'd like to see both parties adhere as they move forward:

1. We value the work AUSD teachers do. We also value the work of our administrators. We ask both sides to similarly value each others’ contributions and conduct themselves respectfully and professionally. Please  — especially —stop the personal attacks and inflammatory language in public.  

2. We recognize teachers are underpaid. We also are cognizant the state budget is putting severe pressure on the state's public schools.  We ask the district to look for ways to compensate our teachers fairly within the confines of a fiscally responsible budget plan.

3. We believe our teachers and our administrators share common interests. Please  come to the bargaining table with a sincere desire to listen to each other, discover those common interests, and find mutually beneficial solutions, rather than taking adversarial positions.

4. Please keep talk of the negotiations out of all classrooms — from kindergarten through 12th grade.

5. Given that some students are aware of what's happening, we ask that you model professionalism, leadership, and conflict-resolution skills , so they can learn constructive ways of handling disagreements.

6. We ask that you not ask the parents to choose sides – we support our teachers and we respect our administrators. We are concerned with the health of the entire district and would like student welfare  to be kept at the forefront of any discussion of programs or funding.

7.  We ask that all discussions of AUSD’s budget be based on objective, accurate, and current data.  

We also would like to see members of the Board of Education model leadership and professionalism on this volatile issue. You are charged with making the best decisions for our children and  for  the district as a whole ; your voice is our voice, the voice of the community. As such, we want to see you bringing  the two sides together, rather than pushing them farther apart or falling prey to the existing divisiveness.

Sincerely,

Greg Mauldin, Ruby Bridges Elementary
Amy Garcia, parent and volunteer, Franklin Elementary
Anne DeBardeleben, Fundraising Chair, Save Our Schools*
Sarah Olaes, Volunteer Chair; Save Our Schools, parent, Otis School*
Tere Hanson, parent and volunteer, Lincoln Middle School
Bram Briggance, parent and volunteer, Paden and Encinal Schools
Andy Currid, Data Management Chair, Save Our Schools; parent and volunteer, Edison School*
Lissa Merit, parent and volunteer, Edison School
Mike Merit, parent and volunteer, Edison School
Christine Strena, parent and volunteer, Franklin School, Academy of Alameda
Julie Hong, deputy volunteer chair, Save Our Schools; parent and volunteer, Bay Farm School
Jen Laird O'Rafferty, Franklin School Captain, Measure A
Linda  Mauldin, parent and volunteer, Ruby Bridges School
Page Barnes, Legal Counsel, Save Our Schools*
Susan Davis, parent and volunteer, Otis and Lincoln
Nancy Landreth, parent and volunteer, Lincoln and Alameda High
Amy Loughran, parent and volunteer, Edison School
Tracy Jensen, parent and volunteer, Edison School; former Board of Education member
Noel Wise, parent and volunteer, Franklin School
Michelle Colgan, parent and volunteer, Bay Farm School
Laria Pippen, parent and volunteer, Edison School; Edison School Captain, Save Our Schools*

*Affiliations are for identification purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by any organization.

 

Something on your mind? Your letters to the editor are always welcome on Alameda Patch. Send them to eve@patch.com.

Khandrola Dechen December 19, 2011 at 03:24 PM
mandy chang sends her kids to private school and resents having to pay any taxes for public school. the greedy 1%.
Mark Irons December 19, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Khandrola, even if your claims are accurate, to my ear they are not helpful. I agree with the sentiments in the letter generally, but with regards to defining specifics, I'm bothered when somebody like Mandy seems to try and to define "reasonable" for all of us. I understand that according to general understanding of the budget giving teachers the 3% and full health is unattainable, but I don't think it is an inappropriate opening offer as negotiating tactic and a statement about how they feel about superintendents raise. As to "facts", I have been trying very hard to get it right and I'm not certain about technicality of teacher pay having been reopened five weeks ago. My understanding of MOU at impasse is that three articles do not include pay. If one examines the time line for negotiations very carefully, ( as opposed to reading and accepting district FAQ as gospel) you realize how very complicated this issue is and how dangerous it is to try to simply pick sides. My sympathies are with teachers in many respects, but I am waiting for clarification of discrepencies in claims by both sides about reserves and other issues.
Susan Davis December 19, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Hi Mark, The AEA itself reported that it opened articles on pay/benefits on November 7th (see their newsletter here: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedaea/home/negotiations). The impasse, however, only applies to the negotiations around class size.
Jeff Mark December 19, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Is the timeline really the issue? Isn't that a distraction? OK, Tracy's rhetoric was overdone, her factual assertions exagerrated. How does that apply to the questions impeding agreement? I may disagree with Mandy, but where she sends her kids is not relevant; I don't have kids, but I would vehemently challenge any assertion that this devalues my opinion. That I don't know the details, *that* would devalue my opinion. ;-) So let me say that I supported Measure A because I think we've imposed 'way too much austerity on our schools, and it's time to reverse that trend. Much like defense, I think education is so important that it's OK if we waste some of the money we spend.
Mark Irons December 21, 2011 at 06:46 AM
I previously hadn't seen Patch reporter Dixie Jordan's helpful article on the negotiations which contains the following quote from the district's PERB filing: "On November 7, the Association attempted to open two additional articles." [Articles are other parts of the contract.] "The District contends AEA's submission of new articles for negotiation is not timely under the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] now in effect between the parties." We all know AEA asked for 3% and full health back in November, but I don't read the quote above as saying the pay article is now open and how can it be if the district won't recognize it? I took Mandy's statement to say that the pay article was opened November 7th, as in currently open, which confused me but is apparently is not the case.

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