Education Association Says Lack of Teacher & Community Input Troubling
OMAHA, June 19, 2015 – Teachers, parents and the Omaha community should not have been left out of the decision to lengthen the school day, according to Chris Proulx, president of the Omaha Education Association. “We were blindsided by the Board’s action – and so was the entire Omaha community,” said Proulx. “For the school district to take this action without giving parents and teachers an opportunity for input and collaboration goes against everything we – and I thought the school board – have been working for these past few years. The process was significantly flawed.”
Proulx said OEA’s 2,700-plus members want to do all they can to improve student achievement and success.
“We are not saying instructional time should remain static, we are saying that the district should have invited parents and teachers to review the proposed plan and given them time to provide input,” said Proulx. “Frankly, teachers know that parental input is essential to their children’s success. Both parents and teachers need to have a voice in these decisions. It’s a critical partnership if we are to ensure our children are given the best opportunity for success.
“We were shut out of the process,” said Proulx.
Proulx also said that, contrary to remarks made by Superintendent Mark Evans, the increase in the instructional day was never tied to the salary increase negotiated between the OEA and the district.
“The superintendent was not at the negotiating table,” said Proulx. “The district chose to have an attorney – who doesn’t even live in Omaha – negotiate with our teachers. The fact of the matter is that our teachers left the negotiating table with the clear understanding that the school day issue would be a collaborative decision to be made for the 2016-17 school year, after input from parents, teachers and the community. The extended day was never tied to compensation. There was absolutely no quid pro quo.”
The negotiated contract language, approved on June 2 this year, states that “the Association and the District will meet annually to determine the length of the student day with a decision to be made prior to the end of the school year.”
Proulx said he believes the spirit of the negotiated contract has been violated “as has the contract the school district has with parents and the Omaha community to collaborate on these decisions.”
“It not about the minutes,” said Proulx. “It’s not about the clock. It’s whether we can trust the people we are supposed to collaborate and work with to ensure we are doing what is right for our students, our schools and community.”
Proulx thanked OPS Board members Marian Fey, Anthony Vargas and Justin Wayne, who voted to postpone implementation until there was an opportunity for community and teacher input.