As you prepare for some badly needed time off during the Spring break, here is a very brief update on just two current issues:

– Negotiations. We’re off to a not-so-promising start to bargaining for a successor contract. Among many other unacceptable demands, the District is seeking concessions in health benefits and is offering virtually nothing more in salary increases than what teachers would receive even without a settlement. They are doing this despite the fact that they have unprecedented increases in funding, despite the fact that we are experiencing significant inflation and a huge rise in cost of living, despite the fact that there’s a growing teacher shortage nationwide and in our area, despite the fact that record numbers of teachers are resigning from the District already, and despite the fact that they can’t even find enough teachers to fill the many existing vacancies. We, however, remain determined, through negotiations, to improve our health benefits, to keep our salaries competitive, to lower class sizes, to improve our teaching conditions, to secure additional needed support services for our students, and more.

– Teacher Bashing Frenzy. At yesterday’s meeting of the RCSD’s Board of Education  <>, Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Kathleen Black announced that half of all RCSD’s teachers do not prepare lesson plans, do not have high expectations for students, and do not teach effectively. She presented no evidence to support her outrageous allegations. Yet, only two school board members called her out on any of this: Board Vice-President Beatriz LeBron who said “I have never entered a classroom and not seen the lesson posted”; and Board member Amy Maloy who said “I would caution how we speak about those who teach our kids.” It’s very telling that all others on the dais either echoed Kathleen Black’s offensive and hateful remarks or remained silent – including our own Superintendent. Board President Cynthia Elliott, in fact, said that something has to be done about all these (and I’m quoting her now) “p*ss poor teachers.” Shameful. No wonder teachers feel unsupported, demoralized, and unfairly blamed. And no wonder they are leaving the RCSD in droves.

We know how infuriating all this must be for teachers who are already exhausted and frustrated with over-testing of students, with scoring of these tests, with the persistent lack of substitute teachers, with being pulled in to substitute, with general lack of support, and with the continuing utter mismanagement of our district. Nonetheless, teachers continue to attend to students’ academic and social-emotional needs of students. Your dedication and professionalism may not be even acknowledged at Central Office, but it is surely valued by your students, their families, and the rest of us. When you return, we will resume our efforts to press for a fair successor contract and for restoring to teachers the respect that they so richly deserve.

Thank you for all that you do. Have a safe and restful break. 
Adam Urbanski, RTA President