The K-8 World Language Program in the Public Schools of Brookline supports the kind of cutting-edge learning that contributes to the excellent reputation of the town’s schools.
Lauded upon its arrival in 2008, K-8 World Language today is being seriously weakened unnecessarily due to systemic problems faced by too many of its teachers and students. There are too few World Language teachers in pockets of this comprehensive language program, and in some schools World Language is treated as an afterthought, creating inequities that are a disservice to both students and educators.
As a member of the Brookline Educators Union, I call on the School Committee or its designee to immediately return to the bargaining it began over an agreement to ensure the continued success of K8 World Language.
Such an agreement must involve issues of scheduling and staffing. A contractual agreement is the only way to guarantee that the educators responsible for the success of the K8 World Language Program are treated fairly, equitably, and with respect. BEU members stand together knowing that the schedules of our K8 colleagues are intertwined with ours, and that teaching is a joint, whole community endeavor. We reject any district strategy that undermines one subject area or educational service — and thus the educators responsible for it — in an effort to meet the needs of another. We know that schools are communities in which students and adults only flourish when everyone does.
Currently, too many K8 World Language Program educators are given excessively high student loads and untenable scheduling involving erratic teaching locations, no limit to the number of grade levels taught, and no limit to the number of sections. Furthermore, they are typically excluded from staff meetings due to scheduling. These conditions are untenable In a program that meets rigorous state standards using a target language exclusively in classes of students with highly varied degrees of language proficiency. In 2015, Brookline voters approved a tax hike to specifically support the K8 World Language program, whereas today these dedicated educators face precarious employment and are frequently threatened with layoffs.
Over the past five years, more than a dozen K8 World Language educators — over half in the program — have left the Brookline school district.
The BEU sees this as a failure on the part of the district to support an important program with a racially and ethnically diverse staff that promotes respect for diverse cultures and knowledge about the world beyond the town borders. Allowing further weakening of the K8 World Language program would be a devastating blow to the Public Schools of Brookline’s attempts to be a more culturally responsive school district for students and staff alike.
For these reasons, the BEU is demanding immediate action on the part of the School Committee to reach an agreement that protects the K8 World Language Program.
- Schools that are FULLY FUNDED
- Schools that are FULLY STAFFED
- Educators who are FULLY RESPECTED
- A district that is FULLY EQUITABLE
These are the non-negotiable values our union will fight for every single day.
Brookline educators are springing into action on three key issues
Settle a Fair Contract for Paraeducators
- End the exploitation of paraeducators and pay them a living wage; one job should be enough for these skilled and valuable educators.
- Provide fair access to benefits, supplemental pay for substituting duties and better professional training.
- Create a Building Support Professional role to foster a positive culture and climate in schools.
Fair Working Conditions for All K-8 World Language Teachers
- The School committee must bargain fair scheduling and workload conditions for all educators, including all of the world language teachers who currently have unfair demands imposed on them.
- The district must stop targeting our most racially and ethnically diverse cohort of educators with demoralizing working conditions, undermining our efforts to make Brookline schools more diverse.
- The School Committee and school administration must respect the terms and spirit of the contracts it settles with union educators – our working conditions are the students’ learning conditions.
Transparent and fair use of federal ARPA funds for educators
- Brookline received more than $8 million from the federal government to address the impact of the pandemic on our community.
- The town is using some of those funds to pay bonuses to public employees who worked during the pandemic, and while all educators are eligible for such payments, they are not receiving them.
- The town is sending an insulting and demoralizing message to educators by not providing a bonus to every Brookline educator who quickly adapted to support students throughout the height of the pandemic.
Last year, the BEU, with the support of the community, won a major contract battle to move our district forward. We cannot allow old, bad habits to sink in again.
- Brookline residents want high-quality public schools.
- The planning and budgeting necessary to maintain the schools require LEADERSHIP by those entrusted to provide students with the quality of education our community wants.
- The educators who continually prove their ability to support, nurture and guide students through their academic and extracurricular endeavors deserve to be treated as PROFESSIONALS and with RESPECT.
What the BEU wants for Brookline:
- Fully staffed schools that make safety a priority.
- The district to stop the practice of issuing lay-off notices at the end of every school year. We keep losing good, young educators to this cruel and unnecessary budget tactic.
- A school budget that is regarded as a values statement and not as a political lever.
The Brookline Educators Union and the Brookline School Committee signed a tentative agreement at 4:20 am on May 17.
Educators will return to the buildings later this morning.
The BEU will join members of other unions and allies to celebrate the victory and exercise solidarity in a 3:30pm rally at Brookline Town Hall with other union locals that are fighting for fair contracts!