On Feb 11, 2014, at 3:57 PM, SAINT PAUL PUBLIC SCHOOLS wrote:
Dear Saint Paul Public Schools Families,
Saint Paul Public Schools and the leadership of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers – the union that represents teaching staff in your child’s school – have been negotiating the terms of our teachers’ next employment contract since May of last year. That contract outlines wages, benefits, and other work-related issues. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers has scheduled – on Monday, February 24, 2014 – a vote asking its 3,200 teacher members to decide whether or not to authorize a strike.
We want you to know that if the teachers union votes to strike:
- Your child’s PreK-12 classes will be canceled at all Saint Paul Public Schools for the duration of the strike. This might be one day, one week, or longer.
- Before and after-school childcare, Discovery Club, Early Childhood Family Education and Community Education programs will not be held.
- Your summer plans could be impacted. Classes for K-12 students could extend into summer to make up for lost instructional time. Summer school (S-Term) dates would need to be rescheduled.
- The district would be unable to provide any food service for your child.
- If a strike lasts more than a few days, it will likely have an impact on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) scheduled for April 2014.
- All teachers, school staff and district staff will be affected. Many staff members, including teachers, will not be paid during the strike.
Dear Ms. Silva,
This e-mail was very insulting to me. I have e-mailed you in the past with my concerns about St. Paul Public Schools and I have never received a response from you. One e-mail was just last week when my child was denied an assessment for special education even though he is behind 1st grade benchmarks, is labeled gifted and talented, has been formally diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and I put my formal request in writing.
I support the teachers in this conflict. There are NO RESOURCES to help my child learn to read. NONE. My child’s 1st grade teacher has a large classroom with a huge range of cognitive and emotional needs. She is an amazing teacher. She cares deeply about each student in her classroom and wants to meet all of their individual needs. To help my dyslexic child learn to read she was handed a curriculum she has never seen before and told to individually teach him. This is wrong and unfeasible but there is no other option. How can she teach all the children if so much is demanded of her to teach one. Other children’s needs are just as important as my child’s, but there just aren’t enough teachers to help. There are no reading specialists at my child’s school…..and the district denied my written request for a special education assessment, leaving the classroom teacher as the only option. If his classroom was smaller, much smaller, it may be possible for the classroom teacher to teach him individually with the type of intense intervention he needs. But, the classroom isn’t small. Because of your policies, it’s large. My life, the life of my 1st grader, and the career of his teacher is effected every single day because of this reality…..but I should worry that his Community Ed. class is cancelled?
Because of your policies my child and his amazing teacher have been set up to fail, but you are telling me my concern should be that he can’t take a standardized test…which would only show me that my child is failing to learn and no one in your district is able to help him. Parents are stressed, teachers are stressed, children are stressed….but I need to worry that his unhealthy breakfast in a plastic bag won’t be available to him.
I want nothing more than for St. Paul to have strong schools for ALL children. This is why I’m siding with the teachers. I am willing to have my life disrupted for however long it takes for the school board and you to sit down with the negotiating team and work out your differences. During my 12 1/2 years with a child in this district (I started with ECFE in 2001) I have only seen the situation for students and teachers get worse and worse. I worry on a DAILY BASIS about how my children are going to read and write. DAILY…and many times at 3:00 AM. Administration has never been of any help. I have been shut down time and time again. My life has been disrupted enormously because of failed policies in your district. I have homeschooled. I have changed schools. I have tutored my children. I have had heart wrenching meetings. I have had to look at test results that show them in the bottom percentages of the district. I have put my oldest children in charter schools. I constantly worry about their future. And because teachers want to make the educational environment better for children you send me an e-mail telling me to worry about after school programs. When are you going to worry about my children not learning how to read and write? When are you going to worry about their crushed self-esteem? When are you going to worry about my feeling of helplessness?
Don’t tell me I need to worry about breakfast, lunch, and vacations. Thanks, but I can handle those things. Easily. Actually, feeding my child is my job. Figuring out summer vacation is my job. Teaching my children how to read and write….that is your job. And, so far with my children you are 0/3 on fulfilling your responsibility of teaching them the basics.
I want to thank Mary Doran, chair of the school board, for reaching out to me last week to share her personal story. I appreciated her taking the time to listen, really listen, to my concerns. I do have hope that things will change in St. Paul Public Schools. The conversation I had with her was heartwarming and I felt listened to. This was the first time in many years I felt listened to in St. Paul Public Schools by anyone except a teacher.
The e-mail that the district sent, however, took away much of that good feeling. Again, the district is not listening to what parents are saying, just proving talking points.
I speak for many when I say the parents are sick of the talking points. It’s time to really listen. Listen to parents. Listen to teachers. Listen to the children. Don’t assume you know what is best.