I’ve been waiting for cooler heads to prevail-unfortunately that does not seem to be an option lately. There always seems to be another issue to tackle, another hot topic for people to share their concerns about, so I could be waiting for a long while…However, I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts with the Miller Place-Sound Beach community. I do not expect full agreement with my thoughts. I know that is unrealistic. What I do hope for is an understanding and respect of another but different point of view regarding a few ongoing situations in our community.
There was much debate and frustration directed toward the Miller Place Teachers’ Association regarding the recent posting of the Straight Talk newsletter. Many community members took offense-and rightfully so-to the frustration expressed by some members of the MPTA toward the community. There are numerous authors that contribute to the newsletter. Certain members of the community were correct-there should be a tag-line on the articles that states: “Views expressed are those of the author only”. The pieces represented are not reflective of the entire membership but rather the author(s) of each piece. The newsletter is an avenue for members to share their feelings-similar to the blogs on the Patch. While the author may feel strongly on the views shared in their particular blog, it is not reflective of the entire community. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the community that it was not made clear that the views expressed were of the individual authors only and not indicative of the membership as a whole.
We do not edit the newsletter for content. People are entitled to their opinion-whether all agree or not. It is an avenue to share feelings, information, accomplishments and yes, frustrations. It is difficult reading the opinion of another when it seems a direct attack, or a differing opinion to ones own. It is hurtful and causes hard feelings. I can not apologize if members feel “unsupported” by the community. People have different interpretations of the meaning “support” and are entitled to feel how they do. Perhaps that feeling of a “lack of support” comes as a result of certain members of the community expressing that teachers are not worth the salary paid for the same job that colleagues in other districts are earning. Regardless, what needs to be looked at is what I can do to help facilitate the change needed to heal the relationships that were harmed as a result of this recent budget season. Why are there such hard feelings and feelings of lack of support? I have my work cut out for me.
There are many who are questioning “how could the teachers not be doing something to save their own?” I assure you, we have been in ongoing conversation with the district, and the Board of Education, since December. It is a confidential process, and unfortunately, a rather lengthy one. There are schedules to contend with, exchanges of proposals (more time), as well as other issues that needed to be addressed in order for the district to keep functioning effectively, that have slowed the process down. Contrary to the thoughts expressed by some, egos have nothing to do with the process. Both sides are trying to do what is best for the kids, the teachers, the district and the community. It is not an easy task.
The Miller Place Teachers’ Association is not in the “pocket of the PTO”. The PTO stands for the “Parent Teacher Organization”. We work TOGETHER with the parents who are members of this very helpful organization. We have no control over the events or the funds of this dedicated group. We work along side them, we support them by attending and working at their events. We join and pay dues. Neither the PTO nor the MPTA has control over the decisions made by the Board of Education.
We understand that there is a tremendous amount of frustration with the teaching profession as a whole. Everybody, especially the MPTA understands that. When thinking rationally, people realize that it is not a reflection of the job our teachers do in the classroom, but rather the salaries and benefits that are increasing and paid solely by the taxpayers. We all feel the same pressures in our own communities, since we are taxpayers too. Teachers did not create how our salaries are paid-it is an archaic formula that is not sustainable. It is, however, how we earn our livelihood. If we were able to create a think tank to come up with alternative ideas to fund education, rather than simply verbally attacking the current system with no plan, we could truly accomplish so much more. Change is needed, but it will not get done when we are busy arguing on-line. I welcome the opportunity to meet and facilitate a forum to begin the process of change. We are not the enemy and welcome the opportunity to prove that.