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Details of accord that ended four-day strike to be released after board ratifies pact
BURLINGTON – The members of the Burlington Education Association Wednesday overwhelmingly ratified a contract agreement that ended a four-day strike. Details of the accord will be released after the school board takes its ratification vote.
Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as president of the 400-member Burlington Education Association, made the following statement:
“Today I am happy to announce that my fellow members and I just voted to ratify a contract. On behalf of Burlington's teachers, I say thank you citizens of Burlington. I know the teachers' strike was stressful and all were anxious. But sometimes it takes a radical action to move us all forward.
“I also want to target my thanks to the hundreds of people who helped: the folks who made sure there was water and lots and lots of apples for the teachers; the students who offered babysitting to parents who needed child care; the neighbors who let teachers use their bathrooms; and the army of community members who made sure their voices were heard by both school board members and the teachers.
“When I woke up this morning, I was happy to be returning to my classroom, as were all of the city’s teachers. I am hopeful that this crisis will bring about change that encourages respectful collaboration among teachers, administrators and parents.
“Teachers chose their profession because they know they can make a difference; they can help nurture tomorrow's fully engaged citizens. Again, on behalf of the city's teachers, be assured that we will be there for your children.”
Hundreds of Burlington residents on Sunday showed they understand the central issue is time to teach
BURLINGTON – Teachers began their third day on the picket line a day after hundreds of Burlington residents gathered to demonstrate their support of schools the city’s students deserve.
“Yesterday’s rally in City Hall Park was exhilarating,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as president of the Burlington Education Association. “It was so good to see just how much our community supports us in our fight for schools our children deserve. It was clear yesterday that they understand that the issue is time – time to spend one-on-one with students.”
Brock reasserted that the central issue of the strike is time, particularly in the elementary schools. “Our teachers, particularly in the elementary schools, desperately need time during the school day to prepare, collaborate, assess and evaluate student-centered learning plans so each and every student can succeed.”
During yesterday’s rally, a teacher, a nurse, a parent, and two school board members spoke and affirmed their support of the city’s teachers, paraeducators, and others who want nothing more than to work collaboratively on behalf of the city’s students.
“The community understands that teachers are professionals and know what they are doing, and they know what needs to be done to narrow the achievement gap,” Brock said. “And the community also understands that teachers need the support of trained and respected paraeducators to work with individual students during non-teaching time during the school day. Teachers and paraeducators work best when they are a team, sharing the same goals: making sure each student feels safe, has adult allies and is getting a quality education that can make Burlington proud.”
Brock acknowledged that the strike is a strain on the city, and said she hopes that a contract settlement can be reached soon.
“We are fighting to be heard and respected, we are fighting for the professional time we need to ensure the best education for the children of Burlington. Teachers are committed to the city, its schools and its children,” Brock said. “Yesterday, hundreds of Burlingtonians made it clear: Our vibrant city deserves schools where all students thrive. Let’s work together on behalf of Burlington’s children.”
Teachers have sought to institute 21st Century education for years so students are prepared to pursue their dreams
BURLINGTON – Despite the board’s insistence that they want to work collaboratively with Burlington’s teachers, their last offer at the bargaining table says otherwise.
Continuing a trend they started last year, the board ignored a years-old plan developed with teachers that would make it easier to give students individual attention, according to Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the Burlington Education Association president.
“For the past six years, we have been partners with administrators to develop 21st Century learning,” Brock said. “That was, is, and will be our intent. Sadly, the board’s last offer on the issue makes it clear they aren’t interested in working with the women and men who actually teach the city’s children.”
Burlington teachers are in the second day of a strike that started Thursday. Teachers voted overwhelmingly to strike after the board imposed employment terms minutes after the previous contract expired. The parties were making progress on salary and benefits even before the board voted to impose.
Brock said the board clearly isn’t listening to teachers. “We must build our schools to meet 21st Century needs of our students,” Brock said. “We are not going to stand by while the board accepts school policies adopted a century ago.”
Brock added, “Chairman Porter can say what he wants, but BEA cares deeply about our students, which is why it is so important to have time to prepare for and then work with each child. We do our best when we prepare, and that pays dividends for all of our students.”
BURLINGTON – Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as president of the Burlington Education Association issued the following statement about Homecoming Weekend sports contests:
“The decision on whether to hold sporting events is entirely up to the superintendent. It is not up to the Burlington Education Association. That said, we do not object to this decision. Although we will not be there, we wish our student athletes well this weekend.”
BEA President debunks board chair’s characterization of failed talks
BURLINGTON – The president of the city’s teachers’ union today pushed back strongly against the school board chairman’s characterization of yesterday’s bargaining session.
“The assertion that we were ever in agreement on economic issues is absurd on its face,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as president of the Burlington Education Association. Referring to Burlington School Board Chairman Mark Porter, she added, “He knows that we had been inching closer to an agreement, even before the board decided to impose employment terms.”
Noting that the association continued to compromise on health insurance and salary, Brock said the real issue was and continues to be the board’s refusal to work with teachers to address the achievement gap. She noted that the board and union negotiators did reach a tentative agreement for high school teachers. However, “the board just refuses to listen to us when it comes to the elementary schools,” she said. “While we did reach an agreement for the high school, we would never shortchange our elementary students and teachers.”
She said that the board and the administration have failed for years to work with teachers to ensure the city’s students get the one-on-one attention they all deserve. “We work every day to address the achievement gap,” Brock said. “We can’t stem that gap unless the administration actually listens to the professionals in the classroom.”
One other point Brock wanted to clarify was Porter’s statement last night that teachers were offered an 8 percent raise. “As to that mythical 8 percent raise, do you really think we would turn that down?”
The city’s teachers began their strike this morning. For regular updates, please go towww.beaworks.com. The BEA also has a strike headquarters at 294 N. Winooski Ave., Suite 125in Burlington’s Old North End.
Mayor’s involvement fails to convince board to reach contract agreement that stems exodus of teachers and gives teachers tools to work more closely with students
BURLINGTON – Members of the Burlington Education Association will go on strike tomorrow morning as a last-minute call by a former federal mediator and Mayor Miro Weinberger failed to convince the board to reach a deal with teachers.
“The board continues to claim that it wants to work collaboratively with us to address the achievement gap, but their actions say otherwise,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School History teacher who serves as president of the 400-member union. “Today, they had an opportunity to work with us to address the achievement gap in our elementary schools. They did not take that opportunity. They had an opportunity to work with us to stem the exodus of teachers by reaching a deal that attracts and retains the best for our city’s students. They failed to do so. And they continued their years-long quest to institute top-down approaches that do nothing for our students.”
The teachers were set to strike today, but agreed to hold off because a former federal mediator invited both sides and the mayors to meet.
The board brought this clash to a head when it voted Sept. 1 to impose terms of employment on teachers only minutes after the previous contract expired. It was the second year in a row that this board imposed terms as quickly as it could. This board is also only one of seven in the history of Vermont to take this step more than once – and most boards have never used the option even once.
“We’ve compromised – again today – on health insurance and salary,” Brock noted, saying teachers were willing to accept the recommendations of a neutral fact-finder. “I guess the board really meant what it said when it rejected the reasonable approach outlined by the fact-finder.”
Brock noted that the union’s bargaining committee accepted high school working condition language that establishes a collaborative committee to examine means of providing services to students in effort to close the achievement gap. However, the board insisted on imposing too many non-teaching duties on elementary school teachers, limiting their ability to provide professional services to students.
“We’ve been trying to get the board to understand that elementary teachers are having too much of their time drawn away from one-on-one interaction with students,” Brock said. “And now, for more than three years, they still won’t budge.”
The city’s teachers will begin their strike tomorrow morning. For regular updates, please go to www.beaworks.com.
Contrary to information disseminated by district, the Burlington Education Association agreed to attend mediated bargaining session Wednesday
BURLINGTON – The leaders of the Burlington Education Association today agreed, at the request of a mediator, to meet with the board tomorrow at 11 a.m. and postpone any possible strike until Thursday.
“This meeting was called by mediator Ira Lobel – who invited the mayor – and we will arrive ready to negotiate a contract that at least covers this year and ensures that we can attract and retain the very best for Burlington’s children,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School teacher who serves as the BEA president.
Despite information released by the district, there was never an agreement to meet this evening. “We responded to an invitation from Ira Lobel, and we accepted that this morning,” Brock said.
If no contract agreement is reached tomorrow, the city’s teachers will begin their strike Thursday morning.
Last week, the members of the association voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike in response to the board’s decision to impose employment terms minutes after the previous contract expired. The strike was scheduled to begin tomorrow, Sept. 13.
Dear Parents and Community Members,
On Thursday afternoon the teachers' union overwhelmingly voted to strike next Wednesday, September 13, if a contract is not reached prior to that date. This vote is the direct result of the Board's imposition of teachers' 2017-2018 contract, the second time in two years this has occurred. An imposition is not a negotiated contract. It is terms unilaterally laid out by the Board for teachers working in the district. If the Board is not willing to rescind its imposition the teachers can either accept all terms outlined or strike.
The Burlington Education Association is fighting for well resourced schools that meet students’ needs, affordable health care for teachers and all Vermonters, transparency in decision making by the district and the professional dignity to do our work through adequate preparation time and workloads. We must recognize the impact of high-quality professionals leaving our district in high numbers, budget cuts that directly impact classroom instruction and constant changes in school leadership over the last 2-3 years. Are these the schools our children deserve?
The Board and the media would like you to believe that this imposition and strike is simply about money. This conflict has almost nothing to do with money. It is about power and respect for the professionals working in our schools. The Board discounts teachers' voices and expertise and unilaterally makes decisions that directly impact the education and well being of our children. This type of unilateral decision-making is not what we as taxpayers want and is not what our children deserve.
Plus, please know, the Board enjoys direct, one-click access to all of the city’s Front Porch Forum (FPF) lists, school communication systems with parents, and a dedicated communications staff person to issue immediate press releases. Teachers are teaching during the day and not available to the media. We were denied the ability to have full access to all the FPF lists and also are prohibited from using any school communication system to communicate directly with parents. We teach during the day and must build a grassroots system on our own to reach parents and the community outside what the media chooses to publish.
Here are a few things you can do to support our teachers and encourage the Board to negotiate and settle a fair contract before next Wednesday's strike:
The district will announce whether it plans to keep schools open without the teachers in the coming days. In case there was a strike this fall, the BEA proactively reached out to local service organizations several days ago to explore emergency plans with local service organizations and the Director of Food Service to help parents with child care and food needs. We have connected with the Boys and Girls club, King Street Youth Center, Parks and Rec, or Sara Holbrook. Please consider utilizing the Food Shelf for immediate food needs. Please also consider supporting fellow parents with creative child care as needed. The district will communicate any details regarding food offered at schools for children during a strike. Please call Central Office for further information. We do not wish to negatively impact students or our families and thus took extra steps we could to support the most vulnerable families in our community.
Lastly, please consider visiting www.beaworks.com for additional information on negotiations, to view the neutral fact finding report, and for lots of other helpful and pertinent information.
Teachers thank you for your support.