An open letter to the Candidates for the Pequannock Township Board of Education:
The Pequannock Township Education Association has never made a practice of endorsing candidates for Board of Education. We have a great deal of respect for the new slate of candidates, for the incumbents, and for the seated board members who do an unpaid and often thankless job.
But there are some things we feel all the candidates and the sitting Board members should know.
In the past, the Association has had the opportunity to participate in a monthly dialogue with the Superintendent in order to forestall concerns that could potentially evolve into grievances. In the past, we were able to avoid the Arbitration process which is expensive for the taxpayers.
In the cases where the Association has been invited to participate in the educational dialog of the district as leaders, our presence has often been as a token member. We have rarely been permitted to be an equal partner except in decisions involving the application of contract language
In the past, the Association was considered a valuable partner in the education process. In the past, the members of the Association have been valued for their professionalism and their expertise. We were considered the “experts in the room”. Our evaluations and our curriculum were not designed to create a classroom with scripted lessons which do not allow for the uniqueness of the students in the room. In the past, for example, the Board and the administration listened to the special education staff who understood the needs of their students. They recognized the importance of fully staffing the special education classroom with full-time aides. They also recognized the vital importance of fully training both the aides and the teaching staff in the special education classrooms. The Board accepted that since the administration couldn’t be in every classroom, on every bus and in every office, they must trust the professionals they hired to do the job. The Board understood that their right to experiment with educational programs didn’t mean that programs were changed with alarming frequency with little time for the staff and the students to catch up before changing the program, yet again. And they accepted the input of the trained staff on such programs.
We feel strongly that the current atmosphere lends itself to the us vs them mentality: that the union is an obstacle to be overcome. We are committed to the understanding that we are equal partners in the education and the nurturing of the children of Pequannock. Imagine if the Board and the administration invited the Association and the staff some input into scheduling, which might allow for both the viability and the success of the elective programs. We would welcome a return to such partnership.
The Pequannock Township Education Association has always been committed to the children entrusted into our care. And we have always understood the intrinsic value of the work of the Board. But we feel strongly that as the “feet on the ground” in the district, the Association Leadership should be regularly invited to share in the educational decisions and in the hiring process of the administrators who implement them.
We’d like you to understand that there are many pieces to the puzzle and we believe the Board needs to see our section of the picture.
Regardless of who sits on the BOE in January, we ask for your commitment to not only the administration, but your commitment to the Association. We pledge to work with you, as well.
We thank all the candidates for their willingness to serve the children in Pequannock. We wish you all good luck.
Lee Ann Brensinger,
President, The Pequannock Township Education Association