Let me sound you out on this...

According to the exchange at the last BOE meeting between one of the Bridgewater BOE members and the head of the BREA, the two parties are slated to sit down for negotiations today. I imagine them sitting around a conference table as I write this, smiles on their faces, but little will to make any concessions. Will anyone change his/her mind?

Even the best-case scenario (whatever that means) won't be a be-all-and-end-all fix it for our financial woes. If everyone top to bottom takes a freeze, we can't save more than $2.7 million of the nearly $9 million hole. But even having parties sitting down and talking is a start. "Negotiations" up until now (according to statements at the BOE meeting) have been via letters. It's clearly not the same thing as meeting face to face if you want to get to the heart of the matter.

My big issue today is how this financial crisis has played out within the community. We are all pitted against one another, bitter and feeling like the other side doesn't understand the our points of view. Tenured teachers against, non-tenured teachers, administration against teachers, parents versus one another, and residents in the district who have no affiliation with the schools vs. teachers - even parents vs. teachers. Do you side with the Governor, the BOE, the "tax-payers", the NJEA/BREA? Which side are you on?

Or maybe, like me, your sympathies lie with several areas. I have found myself within a 24-hour period agreeing with people who have seemingly disparate opinions. Within my circle of friends I can name both teachers and administrators. I am friendly with, if not close friends with, people who are on the BOE. I've been friends for years with someone who is a BREA union rep. Even among my close friends, pretty much all of whom are BRRSD Moms, we have very different viewpoints on what should/has/hasn't been cut....want a heated discussion? Just say AI (Bridgewater's gifted and talented program)!!

I am sad for our community. We are not working together and perhaps we cannot. We are all griping about how these cuts will effect us most. I'm guilty as well with my "save academics" but temporarily freeze salaries mantra. When I say "cut administration" I forget how that would affect some of my closest friends. When I say I am for teachers, I sound a little hypocritical to them. Am I strong enough to stand my ground, even when it seems hypocritical?

Maybe we all need to step back and remind ourselves that when the dust settles, and it is clear how much funding we actually have to work with, we have shared goals... Or maybe I just (naively)  assume we do.  Regardless, we're all in this together.  I just wish I knew the cure to these problems.

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