With Super Bowl weekend upon us, here’s one of the funniest Super Bowl commercials:
One problem with the news reports on our high-school district’s proposed cutbacks is that the teachers and its union’s view is not provided much — if at all. It undermines community trust.
The Union largely is siding with the administration in its “reporting” — while it bashes public unions over on the editorial page. KNCO isn’t reporting much at all.
At our local newspaper, the editor/publisher’s article on Friday is a shining example of ignoring the teacher’s side: There’s no comment from the teachers or the unions. None.
In addition, the article was based on a memo “provided to The Union” from administrators that should have been put on the school’s website first — not exactly a transparent community process. (The document still isn’t posted on the school’s website).
“Budget reduction programs call for lowering the heat and raising the air conditioning temperature on thermostats to save money on utilities,” The Union article by the publisher said in the very second paragraph.
But what do the teachers and its unions think?
I dug up the minutes from a December school board meeting, which shed a light on their concerns.
•FAIRNESS “The furlough days, an estimated $1 million dollar savings to the district saving to the district over a two-year period, problem solved, but on the backs of the staff,” said Jim Drew, NJUHSTA president in a statement.
“I might say that I favor it too. County, state, as well as many industry workers are doing it, why not teachers? If you want us to consider it, then give us the day-to-day benefit package that those groups have, with no monthly out of pocket expenses.
“Give us the benefits upon retirement that those groups have. The salary lost during those two years will never be recovered, placing even a greater personal burden on us.”
•TRUST At the meeting, School Board President Mark Heauser asked the teacher’s representative point blank if the teachers themselves supported his statement. Yes, Drew told him.
“Mr. Drew stated he e-mailed the unit regarding the district’s proposal and received about 100 e-mails back with 70-80 percent opposing the furloughs,” the minutes said.
•UNFINISHED BUSINESS ” There are some things that have come up at the table; they were on the agenda, things that shouldn’t have been discussed at that forum, specifically the EL certification requirement,” Drew said.
“This discussion led to the realization of the district’s further inflexibility with its teachers, even though there are provisions in the ED Code and with the CTC regarding accommodations for staff. I’ll be glad to speak with you privately about this issue.”
Some teachers and a student spoke against the furlough plan.
“Dan Murphey, NUHS teacher of 31 years, stated he was very proud of our district. However, he was here today to support the statement of Mr. Drew against the furlough days. Furlough days will do no service to staff or students,” the minutes said.
“Jordan Horowitz, NUHS teacher, stated you are asking us to do the same amount of work or even more with less pay. It will impact programs.
“Louise McFadden, NUHS teacher, stated she wanted to echo the statements made and believes the district is looking at a ”tsunami of a reaction” from staff if you try to do this.
“She believes the staff does not feel we have made enough cuts to warrant teachers giving up pay.”
“A student commented that he ‘dittoed’ the teacher statements and even with the snow days he could see the loss from having less time in school. Five days would be tough.”
The minutes are here: meeting
A community newspaper plays an instrumental role in providing information to a community, as well as building credibility and trust.
Providing only one side and showing personal biases only serves to polarize the debate, not bring about collaboration.
Running a “poll” on the front page of theunion.com for weeks that supposedly shows people “favoring” the furloughs doesn’t seem constructive either.
Most of all, it doesn’t seem to working, does it? Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach.