Como cambiar el lenguaje de su hoja de tiempo. (Spanish timesheet instructions)
May 6, 2021
To the School Committee and Dr. Marini:
We, the teachers of the middle school grades in Brookline, are writing to express our alarm at the way new models for middle school staffing are being proposed and implemented, and we demand that you bargain these changes with the BEU. Further, we insist that the school committee and central administration avoid short-term thinking about staffing and commit to retaining all existing staff – a staff that is dedicated, talented and skilled at meeting the extraordinary needs of a student body in need of intensive attention.
We have readily responded to the pandemic crisis by exercising the flexibility that our administration expected of us. From full remote to hybrid, and now full in-person learning, we have transformed our teaching without adequate time in the day to do so. Like our colleagues in every other grade level, we rose to meet the challenges, handled the stress, and managed ever-changing schedules, groupings and demands.
At the same time, many of us had new responsibilities added to our plate, including taking on unfamiliar teaching assignments, while adjusting ourselves to changed operation of the schools.
We have also absorbed the stress of the disruption to our personal lives that these imposed changes have entailed. In addition, a significant number of us met these expectations in the face of being told we are contingent labor, that we should expect to just move on as things get back to “normal.”
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the pandemic, an urgent concern has arisen. We have come to understand that some school leaders want to make permanent changes that were put into place during the pandemic.
As one glaring example, it has come to our attention that a new model for middle school staffing is being planned at the Baker School. We understand that this model may include requiring that teachers accept new and multiple subject-area teaching assignments at any time. We understand that discussions of similar models have begun at other schools.
The implications of shifting to this type of model are a major expansion of licensure expectations of teachers and represent other major changes from current practice. In addition to diminishing the respect for teachers’ experience and expertise, moving to this model will have a serious impact on educators’ contractual rights. Some contractual concerns that arise are: job security (including seniority placement), training, evaluation and prep time. In addition, the district would be imposing a new model of schooling on educators without their professional judgement being considered in the planning. And because this model is being implemented without careful consideration of these issues, and without any meaningful staff and community input, it is our students who stand to lose the most.
It is evident that part of the motivation for this shift is that it is a way to solve a perceived staffing crisis – allowing principals to shift teachers around in a “plug and play,” “just in time,” gig economy type staffing model. Employees are kept around when needed, and then let go, or shuffled around, in a continuous “lean production” management approach. This model devalues the experience, expertise and dedication of educators which will inevitably lead to serious degradation in the quality of the educational experience for children. As teachers come and go, and are shuffled around, subject-area and grade-level expertise will be greatly diminished.
Therefore, the Brookline Educators Union has demanded that the district immediately cease and desist from assigning new teaching expectations related to the structure of the middle school grades until and unless proper planning is undertaken and the role of our union is respected. The BEU is our exclusive bargaining agent, and we stand with our union in calling on the Public Schools of Brookline to negotiate any and all of the changes described above, or similar changes, to the middle school teaching model. This will ensure that any changes are properly resourced and can be implemented well. We join our union leaders in demanding that the Public Schools of Brookline bring its proposal to the bargaining table as part of the current negotiations to renew the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We absorbed the burden of the COVID surge after years of absorbing the burden of another surge – a thirty-five percent increase in enrollment that was met with inadequate staffing and supports. We now refuse to absorb a staffing purge – and a dramatic change in instructional model – that views educators as interchangeable and thus as expendable. Without careful consideration and negotiation, these unprecedented changes threaten to damage our school district for years to come.
The following Middle School Educators: