Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ash-West teachers go too far with threat

When I graduated from eighth grade, it was probably the greatest accomplishment of my life to that point. I would have been very upset if the teachers who had helped me to that accomplishment boycotted the event because of a dispute with the school board.

Teachers in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District are threatening to devastate lots of eighth graders:
ASHBURNHAM --The eighth-grade teachers at Overlook Middle School will not attend this year's middle school graduation ceremony to protest a recent School Committee meeting, it was announced during the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee's Tuesday night meeting at Overlook Middle School.

The teachers feel representatives of the teachers' union were treated unfairly at the committee's Jan. 15 meeting, union members stated in a letter sent to Overlook Middle School Principal Brenda Houle.
Graduations are incredibly important and emotional events, not just because they celebrate an accomplishment, but because they are symbolic of a passage from childhood to teen-hood (not a word, I know) and then to adulthood. For the teacher's union to threaten to taint the event by not celebrating the successes of their kids is cold, to say the least. It's not the kids' faults that the school committee and the teachers can't work something out. They should be left out of the dispute.

Teachers are underappreciated, underpaid, and undervalued members of our communities. They deserve to negotiate fairer wages and benefits just like anyone else, and sometimes they have to take action in order to move negotiations. But boycotting the graduation of their students is going too far. The teachers of Ash-West should rescind the threat.

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