On Tuesday, June 8th you may have seen many of Burlington’s teachers outside Burlington’s public schools wearing red and showing support for the Burlington Educators Association (BEA) bargaining agreement. BEA President Patrick Murphy discussed the new contract.
“We have been negotiating the contact for a while now. Whenever we negotiate a contract we put out a survey to members to see what’s most important to them,” said Murphy. “Our members are supporting the bargaining team and the things that will make us more effective educators and help us better educate our students.”
The BEA is bringing two main points to the bargaining table; early release days for Professional Development (PD) and a negotiable reduction in school days. Murphy explained the current issue with early release.
“There’s a handful of early release dates throughout the year that have teachers being pulled away from class for Keys to Literacy and PD as well as PD done after school,” said Murphy. “If we could have those early release days it would actually make us more effective as teachers because we’d have time during the year to really invest in quality professional development in a way where teachers wouldn’t be pulled out of their classrooms.”
According to Murphy extending a teacher’s work day for PD isn’t as effective.
“People at 5 ‘o’clock are exhausted from teaching all day,” Murphy said. “And now we’ve shown with the COVID situation what huge impact technology can have, we really want to have a 21st century learning environment. We feel we’ve got good ideas to bring to the table to give our teachers effective Professional Development, to give them time during the day to plan, to collaborate and it’s all for the benefit of our students.”
With no snow days the Burlington Public School’s school day calendar is 187 days, Murphy summed up the BEA’s desire to reduce that amount.
“187 is significantly longer than any other Middlesex town. Many are at 181, 182, 183. Those days were added in the 90’s mostly for things like Professional Development. But slowly over time PD is done after school and working out the curriculum somehow got moved to summer work. So it seems that the intent of those original days is now not really what the original idea was.”
Murphy talked about the COVID situation and how they can use what they’ve learned to their advantage.
“We have all this technology, we have all these different ideas. It’s not about the time it’s about the quality, it goes back to that old saying ‘work smarter not harder’. There is a way to work smarter with these new tools we have that weren’t in place when these original days were added on,” said Murphy. “We can do things that are of a higher quality, get more people in the room and have discussions with teachers from other schools with Zoom and Google meets. It’s worth having the discussion.”
The support for the BEA bargaining team shown by Burlington’s educators helps bring awareness to these main issues that are important to them; early release days for Professional Development and a reduction in school days.