Acushnet Teachers Working Without a Contract So Far This Year
The Acushnet teachers are already into a brand new school year without a new contract and parents want to know why.
Wednesday evening I was heading over to Ford Middle School for my son's Open House when I came upon a large group of individuals standing across the street from the middle school. As I got closer I recognized a few of them; they are teachers at the elementary school. They were all wearing red shirts and holding signs that read, "Teachers need more than apples", "Support Acushnet Teachers" and "You can't put students first if you put teachers last." I had heard from a friend that since the start of school this year, all of the teachers are walking into the school at the exact same time each morning together.
I found out a little more this week. Acushnet teachers are in fact working right now without a new contract. I spoke to the Acushnet Teachers Union President, Lisa Carvalho, who confirmed that teachers at Acushnet Elementary and Ford Middle are "working to rule" and doing exactly what their previous contracts require but nothing more.
This means they are not able to give 150 percent of themselves like they and we are used to. If you appreciate your children's teachers like I always have, we shouldn't forget that so much of what they do is on their own "off the clock" time and on their own dime for that matter.
One parent at the Open House this week gave me her thoughts.
"What is happening to our tax dollars? Taxes in this town (Acushnet) have always been high but because of the safe community and the excellent school system, we could justify it," she said. "Why would we jeopardize our great school system? What's next, our safety? Where is the tax money going?"
I spoke to one teacher, who didn't want to be identified, who told me how strange it feels to only be offering one after school extra help day when normally she is there for her kids as much as they need her. Contractually, she can only offer one school day to stay after and offer her students extra help.
Carvahlo also expressed to me just how taxing and frustrating this has been for not only teachers in the Acushnet Public School System but also for the paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries and the cafeteria staff who are also working without a contract right now.
"Our hope is that we can come to a fair agreement as soon as possible, we want more than anything to get through these negotiations with a positive outcome that will benefit both sides but most importantly the children and families in this Acushnet community we love so much," Carvalho said. "We love our jobs, our schools, our students and this town."
Earlier today, I was also able to speak with Acushnet Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paula Bailey.
"I too hope we can come to a resolution very soon," she said. "There are several matters being worked through as we speak and we are close on many issues. We want what is going to be best for our students, our teachers and the district. We are very close and there are just a couple of things we are working on. I feel hopeful and very confident we will have an agreement very soon."
As a mom whose two boys have gone through and are still in the Acushnet Public School system, I feel our teachers are everything. Period. I believe them when they say they just want what they think is fair. I feel they deserve more than fair, but that's just me.
Anyone who knows a great teacher knows that she or he is not in it for the money, that's for sure. The amount of work they do and how much of themselves they give to their students and their job speaks volumes. Time spent outside of their work hours, their own money spent on teaching and classroom necessities, volunteering for endless school functions, the list goes on.
I too look forward to a fair resolution for our wonderful teachers and all of schools employees currently working without a contract in Acushnet. The longer this goes on, the longer we all live in limbo with all of the stresses that come with it. This isn't good for anyone, but especially our children, who ultimately are affected the most.