Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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An open letter to the South Burlington School District School Board

[What follows is the text of the email I just sent to our local school board.  South Burlington teachers are set to hold a strike vote tomorrow. More information can be found at the website of the South Burlington Educators Association and at the South Burlington School District website.]


I’m a parent of two children at Chamberlin School who is very concerned about the decision of the board to walk away from the bargaining table and to impose working conditions on our teachers. I understand your position that you need to keep the fiscal realities of our city in mind when negotiating with the teachers, but imposing conditions like this is a dangerous precedent. I fully support our teachers’ right to strike in the face of such a decision.

I do understand that our teachers are some of the best paid in the state.  Instead of the board and other people in the city suggesting that our teachers have it better than anyone else and should be grateful for what they get,  the board could play a leadership role in asking why other districts do not make the choice that South Burlington has made to compensate our teachers fairly.  As a taxpayer, I strongly support the decision to pay teachers well here and would gladly go along with an increase in my taxes if that meant that we could continue to do a good job in South Burlington in preparing our children for the future.

Having explained the situation to my daughter, who is 11, she immediately responded that if the teachers go on strike she will want to walk the picket line in support of her teachers.  Should a strike occur, she and I, along with many families will be doing just that in support of our district’s fine teachers.  I hope, though, that the school board can help to avert a strike by showing good faith in returning to the bargaining table.  That spirit of cooperation is what I want to be teaching my children rather than what it means to walk the picket line.


Paul Martin
South Burlington