The DCF held our spring general membership meeting on Wednesday night. The commitment, enthusiasm, and intelligence of our members were on full display. Here’s a quick rundown of the meeting:
- As we all know, DCSD was closed on Wednesday because of a threat to schools in our area. About a dozen members came ninety minutes early to discuss how these events, and ones similar, affect them and their students. This productive conversation resulted in some concrete action steps that we believe, as professionals, we must take. Those who attended this discussion found it valuable and constructive.
- At the opening of the full meeting, participants in the over-crowded and hot room heard something that has been missing from much of our school district for years—research on best educational practice and the truths it tells. Members heard how important having unfiltered educator voice is for student achievement. They saw the results of peer-reviewed studies that concluded time and time again that working in partnership with teachers and their unions is a powerful factor in a successful school system in the United States and around the world. More importantly, they saw how the loss of teacher voice in Douglas County has affected everything from student performance, investment in the classroom, and teacher and staff compensation.
- After the presentation, the members received an update on the effort to bring collective bargaining back for teachers and classified staff. They clapped and shouted as those leading this grassroots efforts shared updated numbers and discussed the ongoing effort to ensure every teacher and classified employee is given the opportunity to sign the petition. The numbers are impressive, but nobody was overconfident or satisfied. They strongly agreed to continue the effort to gain more support and continue the highly-successful grassroots process in the schools. I don’t think there has been a more enthusiastic meeting of educators in the past ten years. It was a special moment.
- Finally, the members heard from the DCF attorney who shared important details about the sick leave bank lawsuit. The current state of the case was discussed and options were discussed. Members also heard directly from two of the lead plaintiffs who shared their stories and the impact they and their families suffered as the result of the school district unilaterally stealing over 7,000 sick leave banks days from our members. The discussion was open and honest, with many points of view considered. Finally, the attorney asked the members who are part of the lawsuit to vote. Although the outcome of the vote is not yet known, I can say without hesitation that the feeling in the room was one of compassion and empathy. This was never about money, it was and will always be about educators taking care of each other.
As you can see, it was quite a night. I hope you get an opportunity to speak with someone who was there Wednesday night. I also hope you seek out and sign the petition to bring back collective bargaining if you haven’t already signed. As we see from the recent moves by the school board, just knowing there is a petition circulating out there has changed policy. Imagine what could happen for you and your students when we present thousands of educators’ signatures to the district.