Last fall after a series of brutal attacks on staff at the center schools for disabled students, DTU organized a town hall between teachers and several members of the administration.
After the town hall where teacher after teacher expressed issues and brought up concerns, many of us thought once again our fears would be ignored, but happily that wasn’t the case.
In November the members of the union, the union reps at the three center schools and several members of the administration began to meet to go over issues and come up with solutions. In my 18 years in the district I had never seen either group so motivated, and I don’t think it had much to do with my email to the super where I let her know after an attack, that if I was attacked my first call would be to the police and my second would be to a lawyer.
So we started to meet and go over issues and the district was very receptive and promised, finances permitting, to arrange additional trainings and put additional personnel in place.
Then at the last meeting we also talked about the additional certifications that teachers teaching content area at the center schools were going to need. Earlier this year dozens of teachers were told to get extra and expensive certifications or they would lose their jobs. Up to now teaching students with significant cognitive abilities could be done with an ESE certification but now they wanted teachers to have a content area certification as well.
As you can imagine this caused a lot of stress for a lot of teachers as they started to sign up and take the tests which cost two hundred dollars a pop. The district was in danger of losing dozens of experienced teachers at the center schools as the end of the year quickly approaches.
We were about to be in real trouble.
Realizing this the district working with the union came up with an alternate plan that teachers could use instead of spending hundreds of dollars to add additional certification. Now teachers can use years of service, effective evaluations, in-service points and other things to become in-field. When the district told us this there was a collective sigh of relief.
DTU and DCPS working together to save jobs is how it is supposed to be, sort of.
I say sort of because this was far from perfect, and DCPS has to become more receptive to teachers needs. You see some teachers spent hundreds of dollars and even more went through lots of unnecessary stress that they wouldn’t have had to if the district would have created this plan months ago rather than saying, hey get this additional certification or lose your jobs.
This isn’t the first time the district has been dismissive of teachers this year either. If you are a teacher you have probably heard about the debacle that getting certified and recertified has become. What took place in a few weeks or months in the past has now stretched into a year or longer.
Well in the fall when teachers got their lead money, many, those who had attempt to re-certify found themselves left out. The district at first didn’t say anything. There was no heads up, or anything, now eventually the district did say once their certifications were approved they would get the money but wouldn’t it have been professional, wouldn’t it have been right, if they would have let teachers know beforehand, instead of having them find out when they got their checks?
I am glad the district and union are working together to solve our ese issues. It makes me hopeful that they are working together in other areas as well. This is the thing though, to the district teachers have often been an afterthought and if we want to be the district we can be, that has to stop.