Dear School Board members (with email accounts),
As some of you may know, I typed up and solicted East staff to sign a list of cuts that would not directly affect the students (in most cases, the
student and parent would never know the cut had been made). I believe 33 teachers and all 3 of our administrators signed that letter, and it was
sent to the editor of the News Tribune as well as to Eileen Zeitz-Hudelson. Eileen informed me that many of these cuts were already being considered.
If these cuts were being considered, why aren't teachers receiving information about them? All we hear about is what the press reports which
contains only information that will provoke parents and students. Our goal in writing this letter was to get the word out to parents that there are
some other places to cut the budget in addition to closing schools and lowering the standard for graduation.
Teachers have not been asked by CAB where cuts should be made. There is the feeling by many teachers that CAB does not care to know what teachers
think. That is why I sent the email to Eileen and not to Julio Almanza. I wish I had thought of sending it to him, but I didn't think he would care.
I may have misjudged that.
I know there were public hearings, but I could not attend because of
previous commitments (mostly I had assigned papers that I need to grade).
Teachers take a lot of heat for the fact that our salaries take up most of the budget, and yet we are the ones actually educating students. Many of
the duties of CAB could be reduced or discontinued and no one would notice. For example, I do not need a curriculum specialist. I would much rather
see her back in a classroom, helping to reduce my class size. I have heard no talk about eliminating these specialists. If that discussion is going
on, please tell us about it. Also, tell us if you are considering hiring an outside source to help you make these tough decisions. Montana hired an
impartial firm from Oregon to help them sell cuts to their community. It was money well spent, and now Montana is fiscally sound.
I understand that some of you are upset by this list/letter to the editor.
That was certainly not our intent. To that end we have asked Jim Heffernan to remove the last two items from the list (Close Unity and Make Central a
technical school). We see how this would look to those schools, and it doesn't speak well of us. We should have added "Close East." We
appreciate the efforts of Patti Rolf to set us straight on this score; it was inappropriate to include that.
I am disappointed that Julio Almanza did not call me back. He has put tremendous pressure on Laurie Knapp to get me to retract the letter. To
her credit, Laurie has stood behind what she believes is right.
But the rest of the list still stands, and we hope that it will get
published. We know your job is a tough one. And we admire you for being willing to be out there on the front lines. Please keep up the good work.
Duluth East ______ teacher
P.S. I am not against the 6 period day--just don't reduce credits for
graduation to achieve it. I am in email contact with other English
teachers across the country. They prefer the 6 period day to block
scheduling and one teacher says they are on the 6 period day and still require 4 credits of English! If you have the time to read them, here is
what they say about the 6 period day:
I appreciate your regret over singling out Central in such an unfortunate way. What your letter implied is not unlike some of the unkind things that were said at the Ordean meeting.
I have no idea whether Julio put "tremendous" pressure on Laurie Knapp to get you to bottle up your letter to the editor. I suspect he was unhappy about it and expressed his feelings. It certainly was a letter which put our staff in a bad light. That would not be incredible pressure. If you are wrong you owe the superintendent an apology.
The notion that our staff has to live in fear of expressing their opinions is bunk. You have been the exemplar of our staff's freedom to complain for several years now. Enjoy your freedom. Please don't abuse it.
23 March 2001
Dear School Board Members,
I want to correct an error I made in my letter to you yesterday. Jim Heffernan was the one who gave Laurie Knapp the idea of retracting the
letter. Because Mr. Almanza was upset with Laurie over the letter, I assumed he was the one who asked her to retract it.
I had Laurie read over my letter to you this morning (Friday). She wanted me to be aware that Mr. Almanza did not ask her to retract. I
suggested contacting you to set the record straight. Sorry for the error.
Also, I am in contact with Mary Thompson of the News Tribune, apparently she's putting together a story about the negotiations and wants teacher
and my response:
Thank you S,