Lost at sea?

(Click here to see pictures and a description of MARE from 2011).
Eisenhower's hallway during the 2011 Mare carnival

Apparently Eisenhower school is not running Ocean Week or hosting its annual MARE Carnival night (according to the BRRSD calendar, Roots and Shoots Forest Festival took place at Hillside School on a Saturday). Eisenhower's teachers don't want to run it. This frustrates me. I spend a lot of energy highlighting my perceived inequities between our two Intermediate Schools (Eisenhower and Hillside). Normally I'm bitching about class sizes and the impact that so many more kids have on the building as a whole (library, nursing, cafeteria, etc.). This "inequity" upsets me more because it is the choice of Eisenhower's staff not to run the Carnival.

Hillside School promoted Roots and Shoots at Bridgewater's Eco-Blast last month -  with no sign of Eisenhower's MARE program)... Again Hillside is doing something (albeit, something small - having a table for a few hours) but it was the teaching staff that chose to make this happen. Where was my son's school? MARE is just as impressive a program, and just as ecologically-focused.

After spending months on a committee to bring back extra-curricular activities after budget cuts, Eisenhower's most academic and enriching of all, MARE Carnival night is not happening. Families got excited about Science. MARE, which was open to families, welcomed incoming siblings to intermediate school. I haven't read the teacher's contracts - maybe this interdisciplinary extra stuff is beyond the scope of some teachers' contracts (the coordinator(s) would be paid through student fees and I believe the PTO contributes to cover other costs), but I think that it was a great example of "kids first" and a general support of enriching our curriculum. The MARE carnival highlighted the interaction of social sciences and physical sciences with the arts and exercise. Children showed off their school's curriculum with pride. Parents got a rare glimpse of teachers interacting with students. A very worthwhile effort - but an effort nonetheless.

These tactics that turn empathy AWAY from teachers. If anything, the BREA and its members should see this collaborative effort as positive PR during times of strife. It took a long time to get MARE Carnival to run in the first place. I understand that teachers are bagging this intentionally to demonstrate what they do, but the target is missed. None of the 9 BOE members has kids in Eisenhower. The target audience of these tactics (ie the BOE negotiations committee) won't even notice.

Their first exposure to dissection? RIP Squid. (From MARE 2011)
I understand that the teachers want to highlight all they do BEYOND the scope of their contract. I understand that they are tired of the negotiations. I understand that they don't want to take on extra things when they don't feel appreciated.

None the less, it isn't NOT the BOE that feels the loss. It's Eisenhower's kids. Eisenhower boasts some very dedicated teachers. The librarian just ran a week-long Book Fair - a stressful and disruptive enterprise - that doesn't make 1 cent for the school. Instead she ran it because it offers buy-one-get-one books so that kids in her school can get access to inexpensive reading for the summer.

Every time I enter the school, I meet teachers who smile. The Principal is nice. The Vice Principal is respectful. My son's and daughter's (former) teachers (for the most part) taught my children with care and concern. Of course, there have been exceptions, but we've been pretty lucky. Despite huge class sizes (29 or 30 kids in all his academic classes) my son is learning. A lot. Proof positive that the teachers are going the extra mile in the classroom. A larger student-teacher ratio means more work to reach individual students.

Not running MARE/Ocean Week may incur a financial loss to the District. The school has received competitive grant funding for this program, an honor to the community. That alone should be reason to run it. Why would a funding organization ever give money to Eisenhower again, if they get a reputation for not running things when there are BOE vs. Union-issues? In general, contracts are renewed every three years. (And budget cuts can make things unpleasant in the interim, as we've seen in the past).  Grant funding organizations often look at how recipients spend other funding - even if they aren't the source - to see if they are worthy and trustworthy causes.  If that is the case, not running MARE jeopardizes Eisenhower's future students, as much as it hurts the current students.

As I said, none of the BOE members (to my knowledge) have kids currently in Eisenhower. They probably aren't even aware that this has been canceled. But I am. But I'm just one mom.

And I'm disappointed. I get the teachers are mad. I just wish the union would stop convincing teachers to do things that the kids feel but the BOE doesn't even see. It doesn't help. It probably doesn't help morale. (Does it make the teachers feel better to cut programs?) It doesn't help with negotiations. (I assume.) It probably doesn't help with parent-teacher relationships. (Why would parents take part in committees to bring back programs, if the teachers won't support them?) And it certainly doesn't help kids. (They are the ones that are feeling the cut and this is the biggest 6th grade class in years.)

It's really a shame. In my humble opinion...


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