Last night the Board met from about 7pm until well after 9:00. I spoke on behalf of UFEA during the public comments. After I spoke, I was also able to listen to the personal opinions of many members of our organization. Some spoke in favor of adjusting the current schedule, some asking the district to carefully consider their decision. Regardless of the members’ positions, I was proud to listen to them speak. I was proud to be with them as they took action and attended the board meeting. I was proud that they raised their voices for what they believed was right.
Individually it’s hard to affect change. Individually we don’t hold very much power, but that’s the thing about UNION. It’s U and I and that, my brothers and sisters, is how we affect change.
As we begin to bargain on Monday, March 14th and in the days that follow, our collective action will be important. Our organization, our voice, our actions will demonstrate that while on some issues we may not all think exactly the same thing, in our core principles and our core values, we share common values and we speak with a common voice. We stand together.
So that’s why this Monday, 3.14.16, the day we begin to bargain, I am asking you to stand together, to stand with the seven members that will sit down with the board and begin to bargain the document that guides our working conditions.
Please #REPtheBLUE this Monday and every Monday until our contract is settled. Please post a picture of our members in unity on the UFEA Facebook page and use #UFEAcares or #REPtheBLUE so that all of the members of UFEA can see that we are organized for change.
Speaking of last night’s school board meeting, if you are curious about how the start time proposal for next year shakes out, or if you want your voice to be heard, you might attend next week’s board meeting. It’s scheduled for 7pm at Parkside Junior High. I believe the the board will make a decision at that meeting and take action. In case you were not able to make the school board meeting last night and happen to be curious about what I said on behalf of UFEA, I posted it below.
Thanks always members for all you do, Every Damn Day.
Comments to the Board of Education | March 9, 2016
My name is Karl Goeke and I am speaking tonight on behalf of the more than 900 members of the Unit Five Education Association.
Last week at the board meeting we heard testimony from a number of parents who shared their perspectives regarding the proposed start times. Several spoke about their concerns related to the impact those changes could have on their personal family situations.
We recognize it is your obligation to listen to the perspectives of parents and community members; to consider their interests, opinions and priorities; and to make decisions that consider those interests and the interests of the entire school District.
Sometimes those decisions are hard. And the choices you are faced with are not always easy or ideal.
The issue of the Transportation Budget’s structural deficit is not new. And the impact of the decision you make in an effort to deal with the deficit will be felt by parents, the community, staff and students.
The options you are faced with aren’t ideal. The decision is hard. But the crisis creating the need for this decision is not yours to own.
It has been created by the consistent underfunding of public education by the state of Illinois, a result of a number of factors, the most significant of which is insufficient revenue and an unwillingness on the part of our decision makers – from both parties – in Springfield to make hard decisions.
Their unwillingness to make hard and unpopular decisions means you are left with making hard and potentially unpopular decisions instead. This crisis they’ve created is now our reality.
The reality is that the state does not have enough money to pay for the services that it offers and now neither does our district.
The reality is that because of the political struggle currently playing out in Springfield between entrenched politicians and rich billionaires more interested in pushing an agenda than in governing, people are suffering and will continue to suffer until our elected officials can sit down and compromise and come up with solutions — people like you and me.
And by the way, my children, your children, and the children in Unit 5.
The underfunding reality is not limited to the transportation budget. It extends across the entire budget. General State Aid has been prorated for years and as teachers we have been asked to continue to do more with less. More students per class, more work, more assessment. Less compensation, less time, less resources, less support.
For years as a District we have for the most part successfully masked the challenges that this underfunding has caused. We have provided the same level of excellent service. Our students have scored as well or better on the standardized tests so valued by the politicians who created this crisis.
We have done this despite reduced resources and increased class sizes. The general UNDERfunding of public education has not caused significant pain for the community, yet. Educators and administrators have gotten creative. We’ve compromised. And that is what needs to happen now. We need compromise in Springfield.
Undoubtedly throughout the week you’ve heard from some of the members I proudly represent. I applaud their commitment to serving the students and representing their best interests. I also applaud them for engaging and sharing their opinions and personal perspectives.
Tonight, I believe you may hear from more members as they share their personal stories and feelings.
And I’ve also been asked: What is UFEA’s position?
UFEA believes this is a decision the Board was elected to make, has the authority to make and needs to make as quickly as possible because of the potential impact on UFEA members, other staff, students, parents and the community. Further, we believe it would be difficult for the Association to take a position on one proposal or another because we recognize members hold a variety of opinions and preferences on the issue for a variety of legitimate reasons.
We believe as you consider the question and make a decisions, you:
- should do so in a timely manner so individuals may deal with the impact of the decision.
- should consider not only the interests of parents and the community, but also of staff and the students we educate every day.
- should make one decision. In other words, you should not make one change next year and then a different change the following year.
I want to thank you for you time and the commitment you have to public education.
And, I want to publicly thank the members of UFEA for their time and for the excellent work that they do. Every. Day.