One Hundred and Twenty-Three Years ago, the United States Congress passed a law which made Labor Day a national holiday in America. Last evening, over half the Providence Creek Academy educators sent an email to their board which could not only have long-lasting ramifications for the Clayton charter school, but all Delaware charter schools.
This email was not a plea for the board to look into things. Nor was it a hope for change from the board. It was very simple: This is what we are going to do.
2017-2018 The Year We Join DSEA
Providence Creek Academy Board President Amy Santos,
Chuck Taylor, Audren Erschen and the Board of Directors at Providence Creek Academy had plenty of time to change course before things got to this point. Board President Amy Santos received an email from this group in early Spring. We are now in September. Between that time, their issues have gone public and the Delaware Dept. of Education claims they investigated the group’s concerns and found nothing. Many other items have come to light. Past events that happened at the school, that many assumed were dealt with, had surprising twists revealed about them.
As I already know I will post this on the three main Smyrna/Clayton Facebook groups, I sincerely want PCA parents to know this: the We’re Worried group is doing the right thing. As parents, you don’t see the inner workings of a school. You see what the Board and the school leaders want you to see. Many of you claimed I was tilting at windmills with my PCA coverage. But what this email means is that the We’re Worried group strongly believes they could get the votes to join the Delaware State Education Association. That requires over half the staff at the school to vote yes. No charter school in Delaware has successfully joined the state teacher’s union. For things to go to this point is not some random event. It is based on years of frustration.
I get what many PCA parents said on those Facebook pages: my child is getting a good education so why should I care. But I have to ask: what is your measuring point? If it is standardized tests, like the Smarter Balanced Assessment, no school should be using those as bragging rights. But if you honestly feel your child is learning and is able to grasp the instruction and material presented to them by the educators of the school, I would never argue with that. I’ve heard what many of you said about what makes Providence Creek a great school is the involvement of the parents. I don’t begrudge you that one iota. But now is the time for to get involved on another level and support the educators who need your help. Your child can still get a good education, whether the school is led by Taylor and Erschen or not. I will go out on a limb and dare to say they could get a BETTER education if the educators at the school were happier. You don’t have to take my word for it. But I would expect that when over 50% of the employees of the school you send your children to every day make some noise, you listen.
They are the ones in the classrooms with your children every day. They are tired and frustrated and feel their voices aren’t being heard. Their issues are with the leadership. They have begged the Board for change. Some of have been fired for speaking out. They want to do what they do best: teach your children. But many of them can’t do that in a hostile work environment. Not every teacher can be a part of the “inner circle” that no school should have, those who are favored by the leaders and will defend those leaders even when they know they are dead wrong. Members of these kind of “inner circles” will see any complaint lodged against leadership and will attempt to deflect by making it look like a person is out to bury the school if they complain.
This is not some idle threat the We’re Worried group is throwing at the Board. They will do this. If they are successful, the Providence Creek Board would then have to vote on ratifying their collective bargaining agreement. Should the Board not do this, they would have to deal with the State Labor Board. I have no issue whatsoever with charter school teachers joining DSEA. It does not mean a teacher can’t ever get fired. It means they would be able to organize, air grievances, and be allowed the same due process rights any employee should receive. Which are largely based on the same due process rights afforded to American citizens with our justice system. I have no issue with a group of disgruntled educators banding together and demanding change. They went to their Board, they came to me, they went to the Delaware DOE, other state agencies… and nothing happened.
If I were the We’re Worried group, I would get on the phone with DSEA President Mike Matthews first thing Tuesday morning. Or sooner. You threw the gauntlet, now you MUST seize the brass ring. I wish you all the luck on the world with this endeavor. For Chuck, Audrey, and the PCA Board: you can only kick a dog so many times before it starts to bite back.
Just in case anyone is doubting the validity of this, I am including a screenshot of the email. I did ask the We’re Worried group for permission to post this to which they graciously agreed.