Letter to the Editor: The educational irony of a teachers’ strike

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has a logo: “kpbsd –where kids come first.”

Once again, this is a perspective from a teacher who chose to teach, who wanted to be a teacher.

Both of my parents were teachers and they described teaching as “an honorable profession.” Administration and being a representative in a union held no interest for me — being in the classroom with students did.

Administrators in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District chose to be administrators. As administrators, it is their duty and responsibility, their function as district administrators, from time to time to prepare to negotiate and then actually negotiate contracts.

Union representatives, (Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association) chose to be union representatives. As a union representative, one of their duties, responsibilities, their function as union representatives from time to time is to prepare to negotiate and then actually negotiate contracts.

Alaska is in a difficult position financially.

That doesn’t take away the responsibilities of the administrators and union representatives to do their duty and responsibility — their function — of preparing, negotiating, and reaching an agreement.

Union representatives, administrators, teachers, and staff all have obligations to our “clients” the students (and their parents) who put their trust in us.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has a logo: “kpbsd –where kids come first”

The unions are considering a strike as early as Sept. 16. If teachers do not show up for classes, this will be an educational lesson for students in a way only kids can know. Some may think irony is the opposite of wrinkly, but young people, particularly eighth graders, will have a lesson in irony when teachers in a district with such a logo do not come to school.

The school year is in full swing and the momentum of the classroom is pretty much at its best right now, after the initial couple of weeks students are getting familiar with their schools, instructors, and the ways the various classrooms function.

As a teacher, one of the basic educational expectations for my students is to show up. For teachers to not show up for classes is a true lesson in irony, unless the KPBSD logo was “kpbsd – where teachers & staff come first”

This teacher’s opinion is no matter what spin is put on a strike, with all the discussion of health care costs and how the strike is for teachers and staff and students and the community, eighth graders who are famous for having BS detectors set on high resolution will cut through all the spin and get: teachers are a no show, no classes, no extracurricular, and its about money.

Union representatives and school administrators whose job it is to come to an agreement shouldn’t leave the negotiating table until there is a solution, which, in our state’s budget challenge, is going to require compromise. As always, at some point it will be settled, and should be before and without our current students in the KPBSD being used as leverage.

Figure things out without disrupting the students’ school year.

Let’s all do the right thing.

Put the quarreling aside — and do what the district’s logo says.

Robert Summer, eighth grade KPBSD Teacher

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