With a 90.1% “yes” vote, Del Norte Teachers Association members voted overwhelmingly to authorize Executive Board members to call a strike in the event a contract settlement is not reached. Voting ended December 19.
“We want what’s best for our students – and extreme teacher turnover hurts our kids,” said DNTA President Marshall Jones. Over the last three years, there has been a 47% turnover and that means some students see different educators on monthly basis. “This lack of consistency fails students, leaving them more unconnected than ever before,” said Jones, noting 25% of the teachers are eligible to retire and most are considering it because of the poor treatment by district management. Meanwhile new teachers are resigning weekly to seek employment in districts where they will be valued. “There have been four resignations in the last few months because of the way teachers are being treated,” he added. “The last one was yesterday (December 19).”
Despite collaborative offers by DNTA, district management refuses to budge. “Management’s message is this: Teachers, and therefore, students are not a priority. Just as Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol changed his miserly ways, there is time for this district to restore our confidence, and prove district management does, in fact, value Del Norte teachers and students.” There are 210 teachers and 4,000 students.
“We are at an impasse because of this district’s teacher retention crisis. Teachers do not feel valued,” Jones said. “We are concerned about attracting and retaining the best and most qualified teachers for our students because they deserve the best. There is no other expenditure more important than investing in a stable and highly qualified team of educators to work directly with our students.”
There have been one or no applicants for recent teacher vacancies, Jones noted, and “refusing to attract and retain great teachers creates a crisis that will cripple our community’s education for teachers, for parents, and for students now and in the future. Call it the ‘Ghost of Christmas future,” said Jones. “This crisis is real and this crisis is now.”
Teachers have done their homework and say district management can afford DNTA’s proposal. “They choose not to,” Jones said. “We are bargaining in good faith. It’s time for Superintendent Jeff Harris and the DNUSD school board invest in educators so our district can recruit and retain great teachers. Investing in teachers is an investment in the future of our community.”
The strike authorization is a resounding endorsement of the DNTA’s Bargaining Team and comes after eleven frustrating months of negotiations involving stall tactics on the part of management that prompted this impasse. The “yes” vote authorizes the chapter’s Executive Board to call a strike if no agreement is reached after the contract bargaining process has been exhausted, which will be complete when the State Fact Finder’s report is released on January 14th, 2020.