MEDFORD STRIKE LETTERS
Phil Long is now threatening to have the police remove parents from Central's campus who want to talk to him. High school students who show support for teachers are not allowed on their campuses. He's prepaid subs for this entire next week. Does this sound like a man who is bargaining in good faith? Does this sound like a man who is doing what's best for kids? Sounds like bunker mentality to me. — B. Hamilton, Medford
I am a Hedrick seventh-grader. Last Wednesday I went with my mom, a South Medford teacher, to picket with Medford teachers. It was overwhelming.
It broke my heart to see my past teachers outside Hoover in the pouring rain, quietly waving, longing to be in their classrooms. Kids were dropped off by parents, passed teachers they love, grabbed quick high fives, and walked into the unknown. It was clear — students miss their teachers, and teachers miss their students!
I imagined being a teacher, seeing students I care about. I imagined being a parent, not having permission to enter, but sending my child into a reportedly unsafe place. At South, it was different. Teachers encouraged each other and waved signs enthusiastically. I met my future teachers and heard their perspectives.
As a Hedrick student I'm supposed to go to North Medford during the strike. My parents aren't comfortable sending me to an unfamiliar school where students are five years older. According to kids, substitutes weren't really "teaching." I even heard one watched YouTube all period!
I learned more Wednesday than I would have in a classroom run by unknown visitors only there for a paycheck. I learned we want our schools back. — Abby Burton, Medford
I attended Hoover, my daughter graduated from North, and my granddaughter attends another school in the district.
Clearly, there are good people on both sides of the labor impasse who seek the best for the district, community, students and teachers.
Still, I am troubled by the aggressive, disrespectful attitude of management and the board. This is an emotional matter, striking at the heart of what is most important to all of us: our children's education, and the financial well-being of individuals and families. One of the problems seems to be that what was once a group of community-minded volunteers, the local school board, is now a regular platform for politicians with ambitions.
I just returned from a visit to Vietnam, where my daughter is a teacher. In that less-developed Southeast Asian nation, people revere teachers. Here, we treat them as if they were "assets" to be cut and traded, skimmed and skirted. We Americans are such foolish, short-sighted people, and we are getting exactly what we pay for and deserve: the worst public education system on the planet. — John Enders, Talent
I am offended and disheartened by the people who say the teacher's strike is all about money, who accuse the hard-working teachers of Medford (or Portland, for that matter) of greed and laziness.
Teachers are without a doubt some of the hardest working, most caring individuals in our society. They have every right to stand up for themselves when working conditions are reaching unprecedented low levels.
This strike is not only about money; money is just the way in which our society quantifies its collective values. So, I ask you, what kind of "education" do you want for the future citizens of our country? If you want higher class sizes with less classroom resources and more stressed-out, disgruntled adults in charge of them, then let's continue to de-fund our education system in this way. You get what you pay for, after all.
Sadly, our children's future is what stands to suffer most for it. Education equals economic opportunity, and by refusing to invest our resources into making America's schools first-rate, by allowing them to get over-filled and under-funded, we are setting this country up for future economic hardships. It is a sad day in history when we collectively throw away our future like this. Shame on us. — Cambria Simm, Ashland
I have a recommendation to solve the terrible Medford teachers strike.
Teachers should be given a handsome salary compared to middle management in large corporations.
Teachers would work 40 hours per week, 48 weeks per year. If additional time is required for class preparation, it would be on their own time.
They would receive up to $500 per month for medical insurance.
Teachers would have one week sick leave and five holidays per year.
Teachers would pay into the social security system and retire at 65 on Social Security, not PERS.
In other words, teachers would be placed in, roughly, the same work and salary environment as most of us in the private sector. All other government workers would be on this same system. This would help end any conflict between the government sector and the private sector.
I fully realize that the above will never happen. Why we need two systems is beyond me. It would be interesting, however, to put the above to a vote. — C. Andrew Beck, Medford
It's a sad day for all involved, but I don't think the kids should be picketing.
The negotiations are between the School Board and the teachers.
Regarding a recent letter from a teacher, of which there seem to be many, we must all be aware that the yearly salary is for eight months of work regardless of how they spread it out over eight or 12 months.
If anyone wants to review the retirement benefits, see www.Oregonlive.com. The PERS list can be searched by name.
It shows clearly how many months of service, yearly salary, monthly retirement amount versus the percentage of their working salary.
I also think that anyone who works has an important job, not just the teachers! — Louise Scherck, Medford
I agree that both sides need to cool their heels in the teacher dispute. However, some people, like Mr. Jim Garner, need to get their facts correct before they publish them.
I know a teacher who has 13 years in the district and makes nowhere near the $100,000. She makes $38,000 plus insurance at a little over $1,000 a month. Now add that up. She has a master's degree and owes $17,000 on her student loan.
People who are shook up about the salaries could have done without things and gone to college to better themselves, too. Speaking of salaries, what does Mr. Long make per year? Is everyone clear that he was terminated by the school board for next year? Why? He is a lame duck in this matter.
Now he will retire and leave with a golden parachute and his retirement and find a new-high paying job. Is he out to make a name for himself for his resume?
Lets get our kids and teachers back to school before one of the kids gets hurt or lost. Teachers are wet and tired but not lame; they care about the welfare of their kids. — John and Lois Schmidt, Talent
As community partners, education stakeholders and advocates, we urge the Medford School District and Medford Education Association to get back to the bargaining table, face to face, and finalize a contract. Team members on both sides must work together to reach an agreement that helps provide the high quality education our children deserve.
The district currently faces many challenges including reduction of the achievement gap, improving graduation rates and implementing new grading policies. Additionally, they are in the process of recruiting a new superintendent to lead this district into the future with a new vision for student achievement and an attitude of cooperation and respect for teachers and support staff. It is imperative to the future success of this district that teachers, administrators and the School Board reestablish a level of trust and work together to successfully ensure that all children are educated to their highest potential.
Negotiations are at a critical point. The School Board and union must come together and finalize the contract so that both parties may work together on the critical tasks ahead. — Karen Starchvick, Jacksonville, on behalf of Mi Voz Cuenta, Stand for Children of Jackson County and Unete