Message from the MEA President, Grace Leavitt, to all members
An important message about balance.
Balance: “to have an equality or equivalence in weight” (dictionary.com)
We strive for balance in many aspects of our lives.
For financial health, we balance our checkbooks (at least, it’s recommended we do!), we balance our household budgets. MEA must have a balanced budget. For physical health, we strive to have a balanced diet.
Having a good work/life balance is so very important for our mental and emotional health, though due to the increasing demands and challenges we face as educators, for too many it has become increasingly hard to maintain this.
What about the balance of power? How is it that some things are way out of balance?
Whether talking about the extreme power that the few very wealthy have (some even bribing their children’s way into prestigious universities!), or about Washington, D.C., where the struggle continues for the balance of power among the three branches of government as set forth in our Constitution—some things seem so very unbalanced.
Think about our relationship with administration in our school districts. How unbalanced is that? Think about our ability to improve the conditions in which we work to help our students be successful.
We have said it again and again: our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
We have an opportunity now, right now, to establish a fairer, more equitable balance of power when it comes to negotiations so that educators truly have a voice on the important matters that impact us and our children. We have an opportunity to correct what has been, for far too long, a gross imbalance in power.
Synonyms of ‘imbalance’ include lopsidedness; inequality. (thesaurus.com) We have endured this lopsided inequality for long enough. It has been taking a toll on educators and on our students.
As the practitioners who work directly with our students in our various roles, we know best what we need to do the best job we can for our students. Yet when it comes to talking about these working conditions—about having preparation and planning time as a regular part of the day, about what is needed if you are reassigned to a different position so you have what you need to be prepared to do a good job, about some ways to manage the ever increasing workload so you can do all that is needed—when it comes to talking about these things, there is such an imbalance of power because these working conditions, which should be negotiable, have over the years been incorrectly labeled “educational policy” and as such, all of the power is in the hands of management.
In some recent communications from the management organization to superintendents and school boards, educators have been wrongly accused of wanting to negotiate in ways that would harm children, that would harm our most vulnerable children no less! Not only is this a ludicrous statement, it is downright disrespectful and insulting to all educators who every day work hard to nurture, to provide for, to help our children and to meet their needs so that they can be successful. We only seek a better balance of power in order to work together to find equitable, realistic solutions to the problems we face. We are looking to improve the conditions in which we work so that we can do the very best possible job of educating Maine’s students.
Join in the effort. Communicate with your legislators about LD 240 (see link below to learn how) so that there can be a better balance at the negotiating table. Keep up to date about other bills aimed at improving working conditions, learning conditions, and public education. Tell your colleagues to join in the effort. Tell your family and friends. Let’s do all we can to bring a better balance into this aspect of our lives. And urge your legislators to support LD 900 as well. We as educators need for there to be a fair balance of power. Join us in Augusta on April 17th. We are the ones who advocate for our students every day.