PROUD OF OUR TEACHERS
To the Editor:
We are proud that dozens of teachers from Everett and dozens more from nearby communities came to the School Committee last Monday night (Oct. 1) to show solidarity with Everett teachers who have been subjected to alleged bullying and intimidation for far too long in this district. We will not be silenced anymore.
We had to hold our own “speak-out” about the issues before the meeting because the Everett School Committee, unlike virtually every other School Committee in the state, does not have a public comment period at the start of every meeting.
But we will not be silenced.
On Sept. 25, we invited the president and vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association to join us in the parking lot of the Parlin School to greet staff as they entered the building. We gave them coffee and doughnuts and an opportunity to share their concerns. Three police officers showed up and allegedly told us that the school administration claimed that we were “picketing” and would have to disperse. That’s nonsense. We have every right as both citizens and union leaders to talk to our members. We left the lot as ordered, but we will not be silenced.
Union leaders in Burlington and elsewhere posted this news on social media and held morning coffee and doughnut sessions with their own members in solidarity with Everett teachers. Those efforts extended to encouraging their members to stand with Everett teachers at the School Committee meeting on Monday. On Monday we presented a grievance on behalf of two excellent Parlin teachers who, as union building representatives, had set up a Mutual Concerns Committee to hear the concerns of educators in the building. Rather than respect their efforts, the district transferred both teachers. They are now working as substitutes, which is both an insult and a waste of their talent. We are fighting this transfer because we will not be silenced.
Everett educators do an excellent job despite the work environment that too many of us face. There is a well-known saying: “A fish rots from the head down.” If there are problems in some of our schools, including high teacher turnover, look first to the school and district leadership. I can guarantee you no one becomes a teacher to do a bad job. We care about our students. We work hard to help our students overcome their obstacles. An obstacle we can’t overcome on our own is poor leadership.
The School Committee needs to shine a bright light on this situation. A good place to start would be to allow members of the community to speak their minds at the beginning of every regularly scheduled meeting. The committee should also diligently investigate every allegation of bullying and intimidation.. But it’s important to get to the bottom of what is going on in the Everett Public Schools if we are to move forward in unity as a district and a community.
Until then, rest assured: We will not be silenced.
Everett Teachers Association