On Monday, Feb. 22, approximately 50 teachers walked out of the high school at 3 p.m. in response to floundering contract negotiations with the School Committee. 3 p.m. was the chosen time because the educator’s contract dictates that the work day ends at 3 p.m.. Teachers routinely stay at the high school past 3 p.m. to help students or to perform tasks. The Brookline Educators Union wanted to show just how much extra time teachers put in beyond what their contract dictates.
President of the BEU Jessica Wender-Shubow attended the walk out and explained why Monday was such an important day for the event.
“The reason why Monday is important is it has long been the day where the union has had its meetings,” Wender-Shubow said. “If the district schedules other events on Monday afternoon, they are saying, ‘we don’t want you to be a part of a strong union, or we will make it difficult.’ The fact that it is on a Monday is important.”
According to Wender-Shubow, the district had scheduled a meeting with a possible future superintendent during the Monday afternoon.
“We had a meeting with one of the candidates for superintendent. For teachers, that’s very disrespectful. It’s very disrespectful towards the teachers to not ask if this was a time we could meet,” Wender-Shubow said.
History teacher Malcolm Cawthorne said that teachers have many other school-related duties that they are not contractually obligated to fulfill, but do so in order to provide meaningful education.
“I’ll speak for myself, but I think there’s a general feeling that our professionalism is not being respected by the School Committee, and therefore if we want to hold this to a professional ideal that follows a contract to the letter, then you’re really going to lose out on quality education,” Cawthorne said.
Cawthorne also said that the walkout was important in establishing a degree of unity among the teachers.
“It’s nice to know that you’re in the boat with some other people and that’s important,” Cawthorne said, “especially if you feel like you’re not getting the treatment and the expectation of professional respect.”