(photo courtesy of Lou Delgado: Heather Pritchard, Gary Pritchard and Melissa Fox on the picket lines)
We invited a teacher from CUSD to provide a first hand account of the strike from the picket line.Â I’m not identifying the teacher because I dont’ want CUSD going after her or him.Â Â They sent us video and the language is not safe for work. And Melissa Fox, AD-70 candidate, offers her thoughts on this situation after the video.
Here’s the report:
“It was a wonderful day. we had super turnout at Aliso Niguel High school, and wonderful student and parental support! Former students arrived to walk with us.
We arrived bright and early to set up. It may be that the scabs thought they wouldn’t have to pass by us, but we started arrivingÂ before six AM. School was a disaster.
Despite being assured by our administration that they wouldn’t be warehoused in the gym, within several minutes after the start of classes at eight AM, loudspeaker announcements began directing many students to the gym. There, the seniors, for example, were told that they could either work on “Life Skills Packets,” delaying with things like a personality test and how to buy a used car, or they could watch reruns of The Office. Yes, The Office. Now, I like that show as much as the next person, but was that really an appropriate use of instructional time? I thought Trustee Anna Bryson said on KFI 640 radio the other day that the instructional day would be, “Seamless.” Apparently, not. The district claimed that they had been working on their strike plans forÂ weeks, if not months, and this was the best that they could come up with?
Students very quicklyÂ began ditching and leaving. It became clear to them that the day would be pointless.Â Several of my students planned their escapes, noted where the campus supervisors, administrators and hired security guards were, took their chances and ran for it. They later brought us food. Now, I don’t support kids ditching – let’s make that clear, and I told any students of mine whom I saw that they should obey all school rules – but the day was so worthless that thousands either did not show up or ran for the hills. Those in the gym were apparently told that they could get up and use the restrooms at any time. Well, many simply walked out to their cars and left, if they could, or physically ran off campus.
Attendance was low throughout the district. Word on the street was that less then two hundred attended San Clemente High School; we’re working on getting that number confirmed. I really don’t know how valid and accurate attendance could have been taken. I wonder if state laws regarding taking attendance and supervising students were bent or even broken, district-wide. I’ll let others determine that.
There was also an element of poetic justice when a strikebreaker rear ended a parent. He was less than polite, and then went berserk, yelling at the teachers and even some students. I’m attaching a movie file. The pictures speak for themselves. Multiple teachers and at least one student caught part of his diatribe thanks to the wonders of modern technology. Fair warning, he enjoys using profanity. And yes, he was in a classroom earlier today! Several people, including at least one student, got him on video.
Until we’re told otherwise, we’re planning on walking the lines again tomorrow. Only a few teachers crossed the picket lines, and our unity was superb! I really am blessed to work with such wonderful, committed educators.”
Click the link below for the video
From Melissa Fox:
“At Capistrano Unified School District, supporting our schools and our children means supporting their teachers.
For months, the teachers at CUSD have attempted to negotiate with an ideologically rigid Board of Trustees that refuses to bargain in good faith.
Instead, the Trustees have attempted to use the budget crisis as an excuse to destroy the teachersâ€™ union and force a strike.
The teachers understand the financial crisis that the recession has caused, and have agreed to reduce their pay and benefits, but they want an understanding that the pay cuts are temporary and they want everyone to share the sacrifice.
Not one of these teachers wants to strike. They would much rather be doing what they love â€“ teaching in the classroom.Â But they canâ€™t stand by while our public education system is destroyed.
What the teachers want is to bargain in good faith and not have a contract with severe pay cuts illegally imposed on them.Â I think they deserve fair, middle class pay and benefits for the tremendously important and difficult work that they do.
If the Board’s imposed contract stands, CUSD’s recruitment and retention of quality teachers will be seriously compromised.
The parents and students at CUSD know that the teachers are on their side.Â Thatâ€™s why the parents and students at CUSD have overwhelming supported the teachers.Â They know that the boardâ€™s refusal to bargain in good faith has nothing to do with what is best for public education or the students.
I am proud to stand with CUSDâ€™s teachers, parents and students against this attack on public education.
I urge the Trustees to stop playing political games with the future of our children and bargain in good faith with the teachers.
And I ask every one of you to join with the teachers in every way, large and small. Even something as small as a honk and a wave, walking with them for a few minutes, or a friendly word helps our teachers when they are fighting for the right to give our children the best education.”
April 21, 2010