Behind My Reaction
My purpose with last night’s post from the parking lot, now that I’m able to do it, was to convey my gut reaction to the experience. Having slept on it, I think I can better articulate what was bothering me.
The truth is that some of the requests from the teachers raised worthwhile questions, even those pertaining to the procedural minutia. The school committee ought, for example, to emulate the town council in reading summaries of such things as the consent agenda (wherein they mainly acknowledge receipt of letters or information). And of course leaks and the like ought to be fixed as quickly as possible.
What struck me about the behavior, and its seemingly deliberate fostering of an atmospheric tension, was that it was more appropriate to those holding democratic authority (such as stockholders or, in this case, voters and parents). It is their role to put an elected or appointed body’s feet to the fire.
Of course, it’s worth noting that teachers are most definitely stakeholders. It also oughtn’t be forgotten that some of them are probably both voters and parents. However, other channels are in place to address their suggestions and concerns in their capacity as professional employees. It is perhaps laudable that they would step up their advocacy on behalf of the schools and their students in response to public apathy, but even there, their activism would be more appropriately directed toward motivating parents than leaning on the school committee.
The problem with their assuming the role of the democratic authority is that, as a group, they are also advocates in their own self-interest as employees. And not only shouldn’t professionals presume to behave as they did last night, but the context of the ongoing contract negotiations suggests that they created that tension more to benefit themselves as employees than as stakeholders. After all, in times of tight school district budgets, infrastructural problems and faulty PA system are in direct conflict with their compensatory demands.