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.
13 thoughts on “Providence Creek Educators Drop Labor Day E-Mail Bomb On Their Own School Board”
These charter schools are out of control with their hostile working environments. They are all the same. All Delaware schools that receive Delaware tax dollars should be required to have teachers in the DSEA.
Year after year far too many educators are being terminated for no reason, simply because they are “at will” employees. Teachers walk on eggshells in these charter schools because their jobs are always under threat.
Charters are being governed by boards of directors who are qualified to tie their sneakers. Additionally, some of the administrators threaten and bully their staff members to the point where they are so afraid of losing their jobs that they stuck in hostile work environments.
Simply put…EVERY STATE of DELAWARE TEACHER SHOULD BE UNIONIZED! That should be a state mandated position so that we stop losing great teachers to mediocre administrators.
Mike Matthews…What say you?
Josiah, You clearly have an opinion of unions. Simply put, your opinion fails to acknowledge documented history of what unions have done in the educational arena. As a group of HIGHLY educated professional people, I hardly believe they would willingly put themselves into or continue to work in an environment as draconian as you describe charters to be. The charters must hire teachers and if they have graduated from a 4 year college, they are at least educated on the methods of how to teach. Charters are generally not hiring fork lift operators to teach. With that said, what are the deplorable conditions that teachers might be asked to endure? Having to pay for some of their teaching supplies? Would that be like a mechanic having to buy his own tools? Having to effectively teach while “walking on egg shells” for fear that administrators will identify the teacher can’t teach very well? Does a salesman keep his job if he doesn’t sell product? Having to work for an administrator (bully?) who has a clear vision or direction and wants his staff to pursue that vision/ direction. Does the engineer get to design a toaster when the company only sells vacuums?
Simply put, the unions have a purpose when there is gross negligence and obvious workplace atrocities. Teachers are not general office workers and normally aren’t exposed to workplace atrocities nor do they work 15 hour days locked in a classroom. Teacher’s working conditions are not harsh unless you consider being let go for incompetence/ ineffectiveness, harsh. What teachers unions have done, is thwart efforts of concrete reform, thwart accountability, and minimize merit. Don’t get me wrong, the state and politicians have not set the world on fire with effective reform. BUT the unions have not improved efficiency or cost effectiveness to the taxpayer. Did UAW make cars cheaper or more expensive?
Are you really advocating that a teacher should not be given a choice of who they want to work for AND who they associate with? If the charter school can
t attract teachers, they go out of the education business. By stating it should be mandated that they be in a union, you are describing a situation that is similar to the dockworkers. They must be part of a union and it takes years for an opening because once they get a job, they can never really be fired. Do you know what the average pay-scale is for a dockworker? http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/dock-workers-union-demands-hurt-consumers/
Per Union data: Average – $147,000.00
Do these high wages make dockworkers (or by comparison, union teachers) more effective than the non union dockworker or teacher? NO, so let’s not use the pretense that unions are a panacea for administrative problems. In this case, it would push salaries higher than what the school might be able to afford and it would prevent the board from removing ineffective teachers. It would probably mean the closure of the school, which is what traditional public schools want along with the teacher’s union.
When I taught at a Delaware charter school, I worked for under 35k a year for more than 5 years. I picked up about 15 extra hours a week doing part time work and worked full time at other positions during summer vacations (when I didn’t have to attend educator summer workshops, summits, and professional development training courses that I paid for myself), just to get by. I also arrived at school before 6am and left after 5:30 pm every day, just to keep my school workload and responsibilities under control. Those hours do not include weekend hours I would work or the committees or admin assigned duties that required extra time at work.
My marriage failed because I never saw my spouse and wouldn’t have had time or money enough to raise a child. And at least mechanics who buy their own tools get to keep them. When I bought things for my classroom, they were for students to use, keep, or eat, and I know from taxes that I spent at least 2k out of pocket a year on my students. Of course it’s not my responsibility to provide food or clothing for students who were lacking, but I was absolutely not going to stop providing what I could. I’d be angrier with you, but it’s too tiring to argue with people who talk like they’ve never met a teacher in their lives.
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I, too, spent thousands of of dollars of my own money on student supplies, furniture, etc. for my classroom. Some of those things were “fun” items; others were necessary (glue, scissors, paper). I wrote all of my own lesson plans and pacing charts (the school didn’t have a set curriculum). I asked for curriculum support from the school and never received it, though I begged at my weekly “planning” meetings. Parents never contributed (no matter how many times I asked for supplies or volunteers). I would take student’s clothes home and wash them. I would feed them. I would sit with them and talk to them about their home lives. In addition, I spent 12 hours of day plus countless hours at home working on lesson plans for my students. My husband and children begged me to find another job. I refused to leave because I felt like I was giving up on the children.
In return for my dedication, I was cussed at daily. I was physically assaulted numerous times. I dealt with kids who would walk out of my classroom because they were pissed that I asked them to stop banging their pencils on desks. Or talking to their friends. Or getting up and walking around. In the end I was fired because I protected myself and my classroom. All of this for $38K a year. And not one parent ever contacted me to say “thank you”.
I am now struggling to find a job because I have to state that I was fired. If I was part of a union, I would have had their assistance in negotiating on my behalf.
I know a fantastic labor attorney who has successfully represented clients in suits against both charter and district schools. You may not have a union, but you have labor rights. Everyone says how Delaware is an at-will state and that an employer can fire you without even telling you why. That’s true. But, that line has led us to a certain complacency where we’ve begun to believe that without a union we don’t have rights. That’s false. WE ALL HAVE LABOR RIGHTS. Most court cases regardless of the topic end in settlement – so, we the public, never know these cases exist. Schools really do try to avoid headlines that land negative press. While the initial volley may be slow and the pennies offered to make you go away may be little, (they are banking on your exhaustion and desperation) I’ve watched settlements grow over a matter months to a year’s salary plus damages/pain/suffering. And sometimes, even more. I do actually agree that all employees in Education should be unionized. But, in lieu, there are judicial routes to enforce employers to acknowledge our labor rights and to hold them accountable when they fail to do so.
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Well, I guess that will spell the end of charters, which, I realize, is the goal. Once the unions get the charter schools by the throat, the charters will be as mediocre as the other public schools. Unions only benefit their members, in the case of a teacher’s union, they only benefit the teachers. Students be damned.
Hardly true. Maybe charters could be better.
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Another uneducated comment about unions. Happy Labor Day!
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True story! If Charter’s had unions, maybe then teachers would get more professional development instead of having to pay for that out of there own pockets! Personally, I think the charters would be better off with a union…better for the staff and the students.
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Has this professional development, paid for by taxpayers, resulted in concrete evidence of students displaying increased proficiency?
No doubt it would benefit teachers but students, maybe not.
I think it goes without saying, but if a school has better teachers then the students will be getting better instruction. Sounds pretty logical to me.
It is logical if you take the students out of the equation. If the students refuse to put forth effort, it wouldn’t matter if Einstein was in front of them to teach them the theory of relativity.
Union pay scales and professional development at taxpayer expense do not insure student productivity. It can provide for more knowledgeable teachers who are very qualified but it does not mean a ‘D’ student can transform into a ‘B’ student.
It is logical if school administration insures predominantly willing students are in the classroom. Let disengaged / misbehaving students dictate the environment in the classroom and it denies the teacher the ability use all his/ her professional developed skills.
It is logical only when the realities of many of our traditional schools, are ignored.
We have to get 90 hours of professional development in order to renew our teaching licenses.
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