Ambivalent parent

Lately I've been so caught up in my own little life, I haven't thought much about the world around me. After reading Dick Bergeron's blog I'm back to pondering Bridgewater's schools. Dick wondered about morale in the schools. If teacher morale is down it is the students who sense it. Parents, the Superintendent and the BOE don't spend all day in the classrooms. (The Superintendent likely spends a large portion of his week at meetings in schools, but that's not what I mean here).

Today my morale, as a parent, is down.

I am ambivalent. 

Author visits: usually sponsored by fundraising (ie parents)
On the one hand I'm happy with most of my kids' teachers. I want to support them - and, I do. When the kids were in elementary school it came in the form of small gifts (like a book) or dropping food in the teachers lounge. Now that they have so many teachers, I don't show my appreciation in such a tangible way. A few exceptionally great teachers get a letter of recommendation.

On the other hand, last fall I sent an e-mail complaining about a teacher who humiliated my child in front of the rest of the class. I found that this is one of those teachers who has been moved around a bit after multiple complaints lodged against her. Do I really want to support THIS woman getting a raise?

Unfortunately I can't pick and choose which teachers I support - and neither can anyone in a tenured union. The general public resents that teachers have a "job-for-life". If the fantastic teachers who have helped my children grow - even excel - in a subject get support, I would be supporting the one who mocked my kid in front of his peers.

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I've always participated enthusiastically in it. Do teachers realize that this week has nothing to do with their negotiations?

A few days ago I read this letter in the Patch written by a teacher at my child's school. She says:

For the first time in my 13-year career, I find myself actually questioning why I am doing this; this is an awful feeling. I was feeling unappreciated by the government and now also by my employer.

This is exactly what I don't want - teachers who don't want to be there! The BREA/NJEA are emotionalizing the finances. Manipulating public sentiment makes little sense since we can't vote on budgets anymore. If you've been to a BOE meeting, you know that many members of the BOE don't care what people say at the podium anyway!

Most BRRSD children live here because of the schools. Ergo, they appreciate the educational system and its teachers. The point of the union is to negotiate on teachers' behalf. Based on the stalemate both the BREA and the BOE are stubborn mules. If teachers want to feel like their "employer" appreciates them, perhaps the middle of a bitter contract negotiation isn't the right time to seek the warm fuzzies - and Governor Christie's state isn't the right place. There is appreciation - just not from the BOE and Trenton - and not for teachers who don't do right by our children. We, as parents, appreciate teachers and staff who are professional, who teach our children well and who leave the politics outside the classroom. But if you ask around there are more than a few bad eggs... and that breeds mixed feelings, like mine.

Haven't teachers realized how much community support they have???? Don't parents in the district, on the whole, make their jobs easier by following up, being involved and making donations (monetary and financial) when asked (and in the elementary level volunteer in the classrooms)? Ever been to a parking lot on Back to School Night or a musical concert, a basketball game or open house? Sometimes these events require police presence to handle the crowds! The over-flow parking says a lot (no pun intended): teachers work in a very supportive community. Unlike many other districts, parents attend teacher conferences here. Parents want their children to succeed. Some parents make donations behind the scenes to help supply classrooms, the schools libraries, gyms etc.

We have some really fabulous teachers in the district. I will always be grateful for those who have helped my children. I'm sick of the animosity between the BREA and the BOE.

Neither side is acting in the best interest of the children. They are acting more like parents in the middle of a divorce - each saying they are doing what's best for the kids. And as in many conflicts both entities are most interested in saving face and in financial gain.

And everyone knows that "familial strife" hurts the kids most of all.


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