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Column: Picket lines and teachers don't add up
Well, the signs are up on many corners in Kent and happy smiling faces are behind each sign anticipating droves of support.
I suspect support will come with waving arms and honking horns and thumbs-up out the windows of passing cars.
My dad was a strong union man from the '30s and '40s, when you just didn't speak against a picket sign or anyone holding one - not in our house, anyway. I remember the discussions of strikes at the kitchen table at dinner time and picturing people with large muscles and tatooed biceps standing, not sitting, heaven forbid, on the other side of a white picket fence. They were just waiting for someone to jump the fence, landing on the points and being scoured before my Dad threw them back. Woe to me or my brother if we ever crossed a picket line for Dad, even today, would surely reach out of the grave and cuff us upside the head.
So, with a childhood fear I will not cross a picket line and as for our teachers I have a great respect. To me they are and will always be Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, not Jim or Sue. Even Miss Lillisvie in seventh-grade language arts, who judo-chopped me across the back of the neck, so many years ago, is still thought of in the greatest teaching respect.
Not but a few days ago when, "Will they or won't they strike?", came up in conversation with a respected person, they volunteered that they most certainly would strike. Why? "Because the school board has new leadership this year and the union is going to test the waters. They couldn't have gotten away with it last year, but they think that they can this year."
Some teachers have said that the money is not the issue, it is class sizes. Some have said that they must assert their position and their importance and some have sighted the manditory meetings that must be attended being too restrictive.
What about management? It's true that the school board is a group of people who vote on issues. There is always diverse opinions when a board governs. Somebody once said that a camel was supposed to be a horse, but it was constructed by a board of opinions. However, just as we have some of the best teachers in the nation right here in Kent, so do we have board members who have their hearts in the kids. I met the new leadership through the lens of my camera and I'm hear to tell you that the lens doesn't lie. Respectfully speaking, "The Guy" is a straight shooter.
It saddens me to see pickets going up by our educators. It hurts to see intellegent, high-goal-oriented individuals resort to bicep-muscled tactics to prove their worth and point. If infact if the board is the irritant then shame on your camp, too.
There is a respect that is the banner held by educators more then any other profession. The banner must be held high in the classroom, in the boardroom and over the whole school system, by the educators.
Years after seventh-grade language arts I ran into Miss Lillisvie while shopping. I reminded her of the judo chop to the back of my neck and we laughed at what a problem child that I was. I am so glad that I never encountered Miss Lillisvie with a picket sign in front of her face. Somehow I feel that it would have lowered my respect for her when I was a child.
Whatever we do, let's keep the students, our kids, high on our agendas. They should be what all this is about.