Owl Opinion: Operação Tartaruga
As the Owl left on her well-deserved (ahem) vacation last week, a communication was sent out by Weston Education Association (WEA) channels stating that starting on April 25, all Weston teachers would begin a “Work to Contract” policy. For information on how this affects each of the town’s public schools, please see the WEA Facebook page here. If you don’t have Facebook, I can only help in providing what is happening at the high school, the always and constant maelstrom of any public school system. If you don’t have a high-schooler (or have one pass through HS), you have no idea. None.
In the Owl’s typical re-name everything, I have decided this is not a Work to Contract, this is what is known in Brazil as Operação Tartaruga. Operação Tartaruga in Portuguese translates as Operation Turtle. I first became familiar with this expression when there was a customs and immigration Turtle Operation when I moved to Brazil for the first time in 1998. The Brazilian airport immigration and customs agents were legally prevented from going on strike–as essential workers that could have been overridden by government decree–but they slowwwwwed waaaaaayyyyy doowwwn. When they checked every single bag, you would have to take out every single item, unfold it, explain its use, its value, its chemical formula (maybe not) so it would take you 4000000 hours to get through the airport and just forget your shipped goods. Mine showed up 8 months later–what a nice Christmas that was. When we left Brazil for the second time in 2014 to move to Weston, there was an art police turtle operation and our goods showed up five months after we closed the container at our house. I can tell you that the Turtle Operation was not popular with the tourists in Brazil.
So here’s the news on the high school, where two sixteen-year-old Owlets are in their sophomore year. Teachers are legally prevented from striking so this “Work to Contract” or Operation Turtle:
So an email sent by a student yesterday who was struggling with a concept was greeted by this auto-response:
For those of you without high school-aged kids know that we are in AP and MCAS season. Final exams, critical things. The timing for seniors and juniors is terrible. Actually maybe the seniors don’t care, they were busily “assassinating” each other yesterday (watch out post 4 pm at the sports fields, boys and girls). By the way, I am totally ready to fill in as an advisor at the Portuguese language club and really any club that has anything to do with student awesomeness. Where is the blogging or irony club? Just tell me when to show up.
Again, the Owl is no stranger to unions and strikes having lived in a country that is a world leader in them. My personal opinion (again and forever, this is a blog and this is an opinion piece) is that this is having the opposite effect on teacher-fans than is perhaps wanted. The WEA has suggested that we as parents write the School Committee to (and I quote, though I have redacted the SC Chair name): “contact the School Committee to encourage them to offer us a fair contract during our upcoming bargaining sessions on April 24th and May 1st. Drafted with support for and thanks to our LEA Union Siblings.” LEA is Lexington which is also on Work to Contract at the moment and even has a Washington DC trip upcoming where the teacher chaperones are apparently only going to work until 2:55 pm. I have thoughts about this that I will not share.
The Owl family has been incredibly supportive of and impressed with Weston educators. They have always been reachable and involved with what my kids do– I do truly believe we have the best teachers on the planet. They have been there for our kids time and time again–we have sent WEEFC Stars to several along the way, as recently as December. The Owl has published teacher profiles, helped with communications, and volunteered many many hours for our schools. Here’s the best news I find in this right now: maybe I will get to chaperone the junior prom since we may lose faculty chaperones. I even have a prom dress! Kids, wait till you see the Owl do the YMCA. Magical.
Here’s my worry: how do we get back from here? How? Lines in the sand have become concrete. Maybe there is movement on both sides: the mediation is confidential and run by a professional. I have no insider information. The Owl blog is not financially supported by any School Committee member and one has even withdrawn a subscription because they didn’t like what I said. I do, full disclosure, have a bestie on SC but this opinion is all mine.
It’s sad that we have come to this and how it is affecting my kids and everyone else’s too. I do think Weston is special. I hope we can get some of the shine back some day because right now it’s hard to muster anything but a “go ‘cats” for our students who I will continue to profile as we head towards graduation.
Good luck to us and the future of public education. Please note that angry comments on this blog post will not be published. Sarcastic comments are possible but only if they make me laugh. I would quite like to laugh.