President Faber’s Opening Remarks for Contract Negotiations

After last night’s opening negotiation session with the district, Contract Action Team members and Bargaining Team members asked for Nick’s opening remarks and framing of our proposals to be made available:

“There is a wealth of experience in SPFE’s membership. I’ve been in the district 33 years, and as my team stated at the last meeting most of us have been here for 10-30 years. We have come to Saint Paul Public Schools and we have stayed in Saint Paul Public Schools. This isn’t a job that might lead to a better one some day, for us it’s a commitment to the children and families of Saint Paul.

We have seen administrators, superintendents and school board members come and go with the newest idea and the newest fad that will fix our schools. We’ve watched the outcomes for students of color move farther and farther behind their white peers. We’ve watched families leave, and we’ve watched out colleagues leave in frustration. We come to work every day and hear parents and the students wanting their brilliance to be tapped and nutured by ideas born in our community and classrooms, but instead, seeing that brilliance being stifled by testing and ideas generated far from the classroom.

Here’s what this frustration looks like for our members

  • Our members have completed our bargaining survey in record numbers and say that meeting students mental health needs are a number one priority because every day they witness first hand our system failing students in crisis.
  • Our members saw eight of their schools go through an Election to Work Agreement process where little time was given for staff and parent input.
  • Our members see situations like the one at Obama Elementary, where their Reading Interventionist who works with small groups of students getting them up to grade level in reading was cut—but they were told they must have a Learning Lead.
  • Our members see a strategic plan that was written mostly by people who do not work directly with students, such as administrators and TOSAs. 
  • Our members at numerous schools are getting new principals and they had little no input in the hiring process.
  • Our members have seen themselves and others dropped to core health insurance coverage during a poorly managed open enrollment and never heard a word from their school board, or an apology from this administration.
  • Our members are watching and participating in these negotiations and a large number of them are upset that we did not strike two years ago.

Two weeks ago, the Superintendent stated something that we have heard before—that he’d like negotiations to go differently than last time. Here’s what we’d like to see: 

  • We’d like systems to be managed differently and be more responsive to educator and student needs
  • We’d like experienced educators who are with students every day to have their knowledge and expertise heard and acted on. 
  • We’d like to not hear an excuse of no money, and instead have you use the same magic that produced millions of dollars for Learning Leads to produce millions of dollars for positions that are closest to students. We find money in this district when it something that someone in 360 wants, and we claim scarcity when the people who are with students every day, say what they need.

Again, you have a staff that is rich in experience and expertise. Our proposals will be about recognizing and giving voice to that expertise as a means to drive student success.”