Some 500 people attended tonight’s “Fair Contract Now” rally, chanting “where did all the money go” before filing into Monte Gardens Elementary School where many are addressed the Mt. Diablo Unified School Board. They shared concerns about class size and respect for teachers as Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) fights for a fair contract that improves student learning and retains teachers.
“We demand a fair contract that provide salaries that allow professional educators to live in this community without working a second job,” said MDEA President Anita Johnson. “A fair contract must ensure class sizes that allow teachers to teach. It must guarantee caseloads that allow nurses to meet the needs of all students and protect medically fragile students. A fair contract must allow librarians to support literacy.”
Amid cheers from the huge crowd, Johnson said educators “demand this board direct MDUSD management to do what is legally required – to negotiate a contract with us promptly and reasonably. It is past time to settle this. 16 months without a contract is ridiculous. The delays and lack of effort by management proves they do not value us. We demand a fair contract now!”
MDEA members insists hefty class sizes and teacher turnover are hurting students. Lower class sizes in all class categories, especially Title I schools, support for bilingual programs, more nurses, counselors, and librarians top the teachers’ demands for student supports. “We have 14 nurses for 30,000 students. Some school libraries are closed four days per week,” Johnson noted. “Student safety is at risk and this district’s management doesn’t seem to care.”
Professional pay that will allow educators to continue to live in the Bay Area is also an issue.
MDEA had to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge claiming MDUSD management refused to provide information that can settle the contract. MDEA recently received the information they requested. “We’ve tried to work with district management, and they don’t or won’t cooperate,” she added. “We’ve done our homework and there is room in this district’s budget to meet many of our proposals. They need to come to the table prepared to reach an agreement.”
Teachers have been working without a contract since July 2018.