Together in this adventure

It has been a labor of love to serve our DEA membership for the past decade plus as President-elect, President and Past-President.  With this office comes different responsibilities such as next week, where we will once again be celebrating our annual Certificated Recognition Banquet.  It is always an honor to recognize our members at the beginning, middle and end of their careers. This year 75 teachers will be honored for 15-20 years of service to our district. Another 10 will be recognized for 25 years, three for 30 years and two for 35 years.  We have seen some of our colleagues retire, as will 8 more this year, and we have seen some pass on and leave us with only the fondest memories of their contributions and practices. When I reflect on our organization’s development, I am reminded of two common themes in literature, courage and heroism.  Courage comes to us in a veritable plethora of ways; however, it is evidenced in the heroism of our members. At the end of the day, you are the reason for our successes. Whether it is speaking up at a school board meeting, writing a letter or knocking on a door during a campaign, or spending countless hours developing and implementing programs that benefit our students and communities, make no mistake about it—you are the heroes.  While your heroic journey may not be as dramatic as Bilbo’s or Frodo’s or Beowulf’s, it too contains similar elements of a call to adventure, helpers (your colleagues) and tests of your resolve before attaining your success. One such test is the school district’s current approach to negotiating a fair 2018-2019 contract for our membership. For over a year, the district has postponed, arrived unprepared and shown a genuine disrespect to the negotiations process. Further, this practice reminds me of two other common literary themes of power and corruption.  With any type of power comes the potential for corruption. The district’s most recent attempt to combine health benefits and salary articles as one reminds me of Collins’ The Hunger Games, wherein a totalitarian government uses its power to mistreat, manipulate and even murder its citizens.  For many years, our health benefits have been the cornerstone of our contract, or extending the metaphor, our most prominent citizen. Now we find this citizen under attack.  This most recent test will certainly require courage, but our ability to prevail lies in the hands of our everyday heroes. Please see your site’s Organizing Team members to ask what heroic contributions you can make that will not only enable us to endure this test, but ultimately prevail in acquiring a fair 2018-2019 contract.  

Yours in unity,

Shawn

Carissa Rice