Letters: Students Are the Ones Who Lose as Teacher Contract Negotiations Drag On
Due to the ongoing union negotiations between the Princeton Board of Education and the teachers union (the PREA), the cancellation of the upcoming annual district wide elementary school orchestra concert on April 23rd is eminent. This would be a huge loss for the students. This concert is the culmination of the music teacher and children’s entire year of practice and rehearsal. It is a brilliantly put together and orchestrated event that brings together the strings students from all four elementary schools to perform at Princeton High School’s main auditorium. This concert is the pinnacle of achievement for the teacher and students for the academic year.
During my 24 years with McCarter Theatre, I have seen how a performance experience on our stages can transform a child. Artists practice their craft to ultimately share, perform and enrich an audience’s hearts and minds. A huge experience is being taken away from more than 150 elementary school students in Princeton. The children lose the anticipation, experience and celebration of performing in a large venue and hearing the applause of an audience of hundreds. The children lose a leap in building their poise, confidence and pride. The children lose being part of an extraordinary collaboration with their peers from the other elementary schools. The children never get to reach the goal they have practiced for all year, which negatively impacts their motivation. The children lose.
Taking this concert away from the children is equal to telling a winning sports team they cannot play in the championship game; they never get past the playoffs. A resolution to these negotiations by both sides must be made so activities, such as this concert can take place.
Parent of a Little Brook 4th Grade Student
Resident Stage Manager
Production Stage Manager
McCarter Theatre Center
The letter-writer is completely correct, but the ongoing unreasonable negotiating position taken by PPS does not hurt only the children. The prolonged negotiations and the teachers’ justified unhappiness about being asked to make a seemingly never-ending series of concessions is having a negative effect upon the quality of Princeton’s public schools. And since the quality of our schools is directly related to Princeton property values, all Princeton homeowners have a stake in the school board’s handling of these negotiations. As a parent with elementary and high-school aged children in the Princeton public schools, I cannot say enough about the enthusiastic, positive and hard-working teachers my children have encountered, and cannot deplore enough the degree to which PPS is nickel-and-diming them at the expense of us all.
Absolutely – fellow parent here – public schools are a community issue, we are ALL stakeholders. PPS teachers are held to incredibly high standards, and go above and beyond their contractual duties. How many other professionals are expected to incur personal expenses (childcare, pet sitting, travel/time) for UNPAID WORK (AP prep aka tutoring-something one typically PAYS FOR, supervising clubs, letters of recommendation, etc.)
This is not to take a side, but lots of professionals incur such expenses.
The teachers have the right not to do unpaid work, but creating expectations for the elementary children that they will be performing and then canceling the concert at the last minute is cruel. Part of being in education is to not harm the students. There are many non-mean-spirited ways the teachers can make their point.
No one is forcing the teachers to hurt the children. What good will come out of this except for hurting 150 elementary school children? A commitment was made to the children when they were asked to practice for the entire year. That promise should be kept.
Perhaps the concert should take place because children might not be able to fully understand; however, if I were a PPS teacher, I would give it a thought if I would really want to go beyond my responsabilities and do extra unpaid work if PPS board nickel and dime the salaries. They are taking advantage of the situation, inmy opinion, and using the students as “shields” and that it is wrong.
Perhaps it is time for the PPS board to quit and find new people to deal with this. Perhaps people whose children do not attend public schools should be needed as board members.
By the way, my kid doesn’t go to a public school in Princeton, my opinion is quite neutral.
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