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Andrea Egitto: Teachers’ union official criticizes editorial

  • mactrunk


Sunday, January 21, 2018
Teachers’ union official criticizes Gazette editorial

I am writing in response to your editorial suggesting that the problem at Bridge Street School in Northampton can be resolved by the teachers withdrawing their grievance and working collaboratively with the administration (“Troubling Northampton school issue,” Jan. 17).

The Bridge Street teachers have been working with administrators for five months to try to rectify this situation. It is not a question of “getting the right people to the table.”

Every single person in this school cares deeply for the students and remains committed to working together to resolve the issues that have arisen as a result of a rushed rollout of the inclusion program.

Your editorial suggests that the union grievance is the impediment to finding a workable solution. In reality, it is the union grievance that brought the problem to light. It is the union grievance that has given a voice to all the players — including teachers, parents and students and not just administrators. It is the union grievance that has galvanized school, parental and community support for finding a resolution to this solvable problem.

The teachers will not withdraw their grievance and they should not be asked to do so. Teachers are entitled to a safe work environment just as students are entitled to a safe learning environment.

The administration must recognize that the implementation of an inclusion program is a delicate and complicated process that requires adequate funding and resources. The administration has made clear that there is no additional funding in the current budget, so the only way for those funds to be made available is if the mayor allocates additional funds and the School Committee votes to use them to correct this huge underestimation of needs.

Without additional funds, all that is possible through ongoing collaboration is continuing to shuffle staff to put out fires, which then only creates other fires somewhere else. The teachers know this is an unsustainable situation.

Taking the grievance to level three to be decided by the school committee and to the public was the only way to allow our teachers to be heard speaking up and speaking out for children and their families.

Our union is standing up for our students and for our amazing schools. I hope the School Committee will do the same.

Andrea Egitto

Florence

The writer is the chapter coordinator for the Northampton Association of School Employees bargaining unit that represents teachers.