- Job action not expected to affect sports, other paid positions
As the Clay Community Classroom Teachers' Association attempts to turn up the heat on the Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees over contract neg-otiations, some frustrated parents are voicing concern over how students are being affected.
Monday's announcement that teachers would only work during the regular contract hours and not participate in after school activities resulted in a group of 18 parents attending a Parent Teachers Organization meeting at Van Buren Elementary Monday night asking questions.
"What does the teachers' association really want, and why don't they put it out there in plain English for the public to see? We don't know what's going on and there's probably a lot of teachers that don't know what's going on either," Tim Williams said. "If they're looking for public support by doing this, it is going to backfire."
It was a sentiment shared by other parents who contacted The Brazil Times following the meeting to discuss their feelings over what they see as a punishment to students at all the schools.
Christina Jones was disappointed in the way her daughter would be affected by not having her teacher attend the upcoming family events taking place at the school.
"I understand they want a new contract, but they still should participate in after school activities." she said. "They're paid good money to teach and do what is best needed for the students education, even if it means staying after school."
Most of the parents in the group volunteer many hours each week at Van Buren Elementary, helping in the classrooms and raising funds for needed supplies and equipment, all in an effort to make students and teachers time in school the best it can be.
Watching the personal relationships develop between the elementary students and their teachers, the parents said the absence of the teachers will affect the students.
Many parents didn't understand why the teachers were not making the "morally right decision" when it came to the students.
"When did we obligate teachers to participate in anything?" asked PTO Vice President Erica Stallcop. "I always felt that they wanted to participate in after school activities, not that they had to do it."
Explaining to their children why teachers won't attend after school activities is a difficult issue for many of the parents, but they felt that discussion needs to be done at home so classtime will be all about learning and not about the politics of job actions.
"We should take the time at home to tell our kids about what is going on," said one father who asked not to be identified. "Students shouldn't lose valuable classtime listening to their teachers whine about their contract problems. They knew what they were getting into when they took the job. If they don't like it, quit.
"See how they like working eight to ten hours a day with no insurance and making only $10.50 an hour, and that's only if you get a halfway decent job. Then they'd be like the rest of us poor schmucks who are paying the taxes that pays their salaries."
While tempers flared about the broad picture, everyone agreed that Van Buren Elementary is lucky to have its teachers.
"I feel our teachers at Van Buren are great and they support our children in class during the school hours," PTO President Stephanie Dickison said. "However, we do the after school activities to support not only our children and our school, but our teachers as well. And I just wish we would have that support back from the teachers as we have had in the past."
Handling a tough situation with professionalism is something that Principal Gail Williams appreciates her staff doing in this difficult time.
"It's a bad situation for everybody," she said. "We have a really great staff, and if you ask them they will tell you they want to be here. But they are part of a union, and to be strong they have to be together. Remember, they're in a bad place too."
When asked about attending school board meetings, the parents admitted they had not gone to one, but agreed it was time to start attending, beginning with this month's meeting.
The February school board meeting is scheduled at 7:30 tonight at the North Clay Middle School Media Center.