QUOLKE’S CORNER 5/8/11

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QUOLKE’S CORNER #94
THE UNKNOWNS
 
This is certainly proving to be one of the most uncertain times as an educator in Cleveland. Between lay-offs, school closings, the district budget, the state budget, Senate Bill 5, the referendum, and negotiations there is just so much that is unknown right now. As can be expected, many members want answers to their questions. Many questions that have no answers now deal with what a member’s job will look like in the future. But the most urgent questions come from those members who are laid off as of June 9, who wonder when and if they will be recalled to CMSD. I wish I had answers for everyone.
 
If we could fast forward from today to November, so much of what is unknown today, will be known. Similar to last year’s negotiations, members believe that if I and the members of the negotiations team would negotiate in public (through the media, on our website, in updates) we would be able to answer some of the local questions and concerns that our members have. I want to reiterate, the CTU does not negotiate in public. We filed and ultimately won an unfair labor practice on this exact issue last year.  Many issues are discussed in negotiations and airing those issues publicly does not advance the negotiations. What happens in negotiations is controlled by both sides. This year both sides have agreed that negotiations will not be held in public. The Cleveland Teachers Union remains committed to do what is best for students and fair for teachers.  The CTU wants all of its educators where they belong – in school buildings, not in unemployment lines. 
 
It is easy to become frustrated with all that is unknown in our futures as educators. I have been incredibly frustrated by my inability to answer the concerns of so many members. Even if I had an answer that a member did not want to hear, I have always given members straight answers to their questions – good, bad, or ugly. This uncertain time has left me without many answers. Far too often the answers do not exist yet – and that is the hardest thing of all. 
 
This is Educator Appreciation Week and though you do not hear it enough – you are appreciated and I want to thank you for all that you do each and everyday for the children of Cleveland. Although we, as educators, have become scapegoats for all that is wrong, I wanted to take a moment to have each of you reflect on the good work that you do.
 
This past weekend a friend of mine sent me an email and reminded me that there a lot of unknowns for educators (teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers, interpreters, speech pathologists) every single day.
 
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW that your morning smile, high five, hug you give to Wayne each day is what he considers the best part of his whole day.
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW that Mary did not know or care what she would do when she grew up until one day you told Mary that she was smart and would be a great teacher when she grew up – and now she is a teacher.
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW that the book you gave to Susan for her birthday is ruined because it is the only book she has at home and it is falling apart from being read so often.
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW that the only reason Carey gets up each day to come to school is because of you.
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW that the only reason that Mike can read today is because of you.
 
YOU MAY NOT KNOW howmuch you’ve touched the lives of children without giving it a second thought!
 
For all of the unknowns that make you frustrated and angry – remember all of the unknowns that are the reason you get up each day to go to work. The unknowns that make you care so much about the future, about next year.
 
I know you never hear it enough – thank you for the work that you do for your students, your school, your community. You do things that no one else in the world can do.  The things that so many people take for granted. The things that truly make us the professional advocates for children.  
 
As we deal with all of the attacks on educators, from legislation to layoffs, and move forward through all of those unknowns, let the unknowns that we do for students everyday keep your spirits up. And remember that our Union has grown stronger in this adversity as we work to overcome all the negative comments and legislation aimed at educators, the one answer we do have is that we do what we do for the students.
 
In Union,
 
David