The Burlington Rights & Democracy Organizing Team issued the following statement in support of Burlington's striking teachers:
Rights & Democracy stands in solidarity with members of the Burlington Education Association as they go on strike in response to yet another imposed contract that fails to attract and retain the best teachers for Burlington’s kids.
We believe the teachers are at the heart of a healthy community, as they nurture our children today and help to shape the leaders of tomorrow. They deserve to be heard, valued, and believed.
Burlington residents highly value their teachers as proven by repeated investments in school budgets, in neighborhood schools, and ensuring that children in Vermont’s most diverse school district have a top notch education. That community investment is now at risk, which could impact the city’s efforts to attract and retain new families and businesses.
By imposing working conditions on its teachers for the second year in a row, the Burlington School Board has become one of only seven boards in the history of Vermont to take this step more than once. In fact, most boards have never used the option.
In roughly two years, around 100 teachers have left the district for neighboring schools – a sign that the district is experiencing a crisis of confidence in its leadership.
The BEA has offered to compromise on its original salary offer, and has agreed to changes in working conditions at the high school as part of its effort to help close the achievement gap. However, the board seems insistent on imposing too many non-teaching duties on elementary school teachers, limiting their ability to provide professional services to students.
It’s time for the Burlington School Board to act on the behalf of its residents, to listen to their award-winning teachers and give them the tools and supports they need to educate the city’s students.
It’s time to not just get back to the table, but it’s time to remove the imposition and strike a deal with BEA that is in the best interests of the community.
Moving forward, RAD believes that we need to look more critically at how we fund our education system in Vermont. Communities should not be divided, and fighting over crumbs in order to provide the necessary resources to hire and retain the teachers we need, and provide the services that our children deserve.
We commend the district for providing meals to students during the strike, but we would urge the Board and district administration to refrain from using temporary staff to provide services that would otherwise be conducted by BEA members and teaching staff.
We encourage RAD members to look for ongoing updates on BEA's website and find out how you can stand in solidarity with Burlington’s teachers and support them.
There are additional pickets today, including a major picket from 2-3 PM at Edmunds Elementary and Middle Schools on Main Street.
Photo by Jess Kell