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MailTribune.com
  • Aftermath: Looking back or looking forward?

    Strike won't really be over until focus is on rebuilding, not revenge
  • How long does it take for a community to get over a teachers' strike? In McMinnville, they say hard feelings still exist 24 years later, that people to this day cross the street rather than bump into a former adversary on the sidewalk.
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    • Editor's note: This is the third in a three-day...
      Wednesday: The deal the ended the strike;
      Thursday: Lessons learned;
      today: The aftermath
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      Editor's note: This is the third in a three-day series of editorials on the recently concluded Medford teachers' strike.
      Wednesday: The deal the ended the strike;

      Thursday: Lessons learned;

      today: The aftermath
  • How long does it take for a community to get over a teachers' strike? In McMinnville, they say hard feelings still exist 24 years later, that people to this day cross the street rather than bump into a former adversary on the sidewalk.
    The memories remain just as raw for some in Eugene and Coos Bay, both scenes of strikes in 1987, 27 years ago.
    Will people here be avoiding each other in 2038 over things that were said or done in 2014? That depends in large part on how willing people are to move on — to forgive, if not forget — and to focus on the future, not the past.
    That healing cannot begin in earnest until the remnants of the strike are put away. Close the war rooms, end the "state of emergency" and return the focus to improving the schools and students' lives.
    The Medford Education Association should dismantle its "Wall of Shame," which features, among others, the names and photographs of the 24 Medford teachers who crossed the picket line.
    Perhaps that adage applies here: When you point an accusing finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. We entrust teachers to instill respect and compassion in our children, words that can be written on a poster — or lived in the classroom and hallways.
    The threatened recall of four Medford School Board members can serve no good but to exact revenge. Will it help this district as it tries to recruit and hire a top-flight superintendent? No, it will hurt. A strong candidate for the post need only to see the recall petitions filed to get the message that the strike has not ended, even after the contract has been signed.
    We have always said that recalls are intended to deal with elected officials who have violated laws or committed fraudulent acts. Those most angry with the board will maintain that has happened here, but cooler heads know it's not the case.
    Teachers may not have liked — in fact, probably hated — some of the contract proposals put forward by the board. A civil court case is still in the works over whether the district adequately followed through on a vague promise to help teachers when budgets improved.
    Right or wrong, proposing to reduce benefits, changing working conditions or giving too small of a raise are not criminal acts, nor should they be reasons for a recall.
    There exists a better way to get rid of elected officials you don't like; it's called an election. Find candidates you can support and work to elect them and then build something better.
    For its part, the school board needs to end its "state of emergency" and return to doing the public's business in public. We understand that the contracts are not yet signed and that board members and administrators are nervous over the union decision to put off its vote to next week. But there are allowances in the law for holding an emergency meeting if it's necessary on short notice.
    The round-the-clock state of emergency that remains in place suggests that battle lines are still drawn and that the board is still in war mode. This is a public body and the now-unnecessary state of emergency — which allows an unlimited number of closed executive sessions — is keeping the public from understanding how its business is being done.
    We see no reason to continue a practice that was set up to deal with far different circumstances than now exist; it only serves to suggest the board has something to hide.
    This is really about leadership on both sides. The school board, administration, union leaders and negotiating teams have carried a heavy responsibility in the past few months. That responsibility has not ended, nor will it until the healing truly begins.
    They are all leaders and will set the tone moving forward. If people cross the streets 20 years from now to avoid each other because of this strike and its aftermath, that will be on their heads. If people can learn from their mistakes, shake hands and get to the business of creating great schools, that will be to their credit.
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