After viewing the recent video (viewable here) by MDEA President Anita Johnson, there are a few things that jump out. She uses words such as immoral, illegal and hazardous to describe the District’s efforts to return students to campus but other words are missing from her video- students, education and families to name a few. Now the teachers union is not tasked with representing students or families- they represent teachers. But without students, you have no need for teachers or a teachers union.
This community has consistently and vigorously supported teachers and public education. Thousands of parents are standing by to assist teachers in safely returning to the classroom. Families are purchasing equipment for classrooms, finding vaccination times for employees and doing anything else they can to help with the return. If MDEA has reasonable requests that need support in order to reach an agreement with the District, now would be the time to share them with the public. The demands that MDEA has shared to date have been extreme and do not seem to be supported by any medical authority or organization.
Nobody thinks that reopening is easy and without challenges. Many of us pushed to get teachers and other school staff prioritized for vaccinations precisely because we want to keep them safe. There are very real disparities in school facilities that need to be addressed- we cannot just have the affluent schools be ready to open. Every classroom needs to have proper sanitation and safety equipment. MDUSD needs to prove that it has a comprehensive plan to protect everyone who returns to campus. These are items that the District, the unions and the community should be rallying around and working on together.
Instead it appears that MDEA is ignoring the opportunity to garner community support for a safe reopening and choosing to appear intractable and unreasonable. When I read the talking points memo that MDEA has distributed to teachers as a guideline for public comment at the Board meeting, it seems incredibly out of touch with the very real concerns of so many families in this area. There is zero indication of a commitment to reach a MOU in the near future. It also fails to acknowledge the teachers who are eager to return to the classroom and want to do their part in a safe reopening.
This sure seems to be a massive miscalculation on the part of MDEA and it could have very negative consequences for MDUSD.