This is the 31st summer since I started teaching...and this one is different. I'm a member of my teacher's association's bargaining team and this summer we're bargaining for a new contract with the school board.
Our team has been working since early in the last school year (see Time to Teach posted on November 17, 2006). At first there was talk of getting a contract before school was over...then there was talk of getting it done before the end of June. Now, we're all pretty sure that when we start school in the fall we will still be bargaining.
This is a new experience for me. I've been active in the "association" since I started teaching. I've been a building representative, committee chair person, delegate to the state assembly and officer...but this is the first time I've sat on the negotiating team.
What strikes me about this process is not that there is a need for give and take between the parties, or that we are cooperating and compromising in order to make a good contract. The thing that stands out to me is something that the team representing the school board has not said. No one on their team has mentioned doing what is best for the students.
In all my experiences with the "association" one thing has been constant and is mentioned at nearly every meeting I've attended locally or at the state level. The constant has been that we are doing what we do to benefit our students. We want a contract which is good for us, but so far everything we have talked about is directly related to students' well being whether it's more time for teachers to prepare for their lessons, more arts and physical education, or smaller class sizes. The benefits to students are foremost in our minds. My impression so far from the school board's team is that this school system wants to get by with doing as little as possible and the students be damned.
Read the Declaration of Independence From High Stakes Testing