By Wendy Mistretta
There is a great distraction at City Honors School, and it needs to be settled quickly.
Some of us have heard the rumblings for a while; however, we did not really know what was happening behind the scenes until our confused and angry students came home on Thursday, Jan. 4. Our students wanted to know why some teachers find it such a chore to spend time with them in lunch or in the hallways. And, they are angry at the thought of losing some of their favorite teachers and programs.
The conversations between and among parents started in earnest as we attempted to understand why teachers would not do a “duty.” We have learned a great deal since then about contracts, past practice precedents, grievances and non-teaching assignments.
Some would have us believe that this will benefit our students by freeing up the teachers to spend more time with the students. However, the teachers have been doing these duties for years, and they have successfully found time for their teaching responsibilities. Plus, it is through the duties that many of the students have opportunities to interact with teachers outside of the classroom.
Understandably, the district is refusing to cover the cost to hire the aides necessary to fulfill these duties for just one school. This cost must be borne by CHS, which will result in the loss of 5.5 positions, and I fail to see how the loss of these positions will benefit any student.
In addition, many of us have students at multiple schools (or know other parents) and we know that there are great teachers in ALL of our schools. I cannot speak for these teachers, but I hope they will speak up.
I truly cannot fathom how teachers from other schools are not incensed by the thought that some teachers at this school think that they deserve special privileges.
Further, if we lose our 5.5 positions, there will be a ripple effect throughout the district due to union seniority rules. However, my greater fear is that if the teachers are successful in their demand to not have any “non-teaching assignments,” other teachers in other schools will file grievances seeking similar privileges.
Ideally, these teachers will realize that they need to abide by the same contract as all the rest and drop the grievance. They have made their point and we need them to move forward. We need all the resources that the district has to support our students and hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent more wisely in many other ways.
In the end, we really need the calmer heads to prevail as quickly as possible. If the grievance cannot be dropped, we need our teachers to accept a settlement that supports them but limits the impact on students. Please put the students first.
Wendy Mistretta, Ph.D., is an active City Honors School parent and 1st vice president of the District Parent Coordinating Council.