Once upon a time there was a man who owned a goose that laid golden eggs. The gold provided all the man needed and much more. The man bought a farm and soon had many livestock and a large family. The farmer now needed help, so he hired a worker to tend to the goose. The worker was very appreciative of the opportunity and dedicated himself to the care and well-being of the goose. This talented and dedicated worker soon had the goose laying eggs of larger size and more often.
After a while, the worker understood the contribution he was making and asked for a share. The farmer being a fair, kind, and generous soul gave the worker one-tenth of the value of the gold. After more time, the worker asked for larger shares until he was receiving half the gold. Soon the worker had a farm and large family of his own to which he was certainly entitled. However, the worker became worldly and overburdened and could no longer supply the dedication he once gave to the goose. The golden eggs became smaller and less frequent.
The worker became frustrated and soon started picking at the goose's feathers and tried to see what was going on inside the goose. The farmer and worker hired a Colombian consultant who recommended drugs. Injured and weary, the goose laid even smaller eggs and less frequently. Disputes arose between the farmer and the worker. The farmer wanted to fire the worker, but the worker had tenure and other resources. The farmer took up his rifle and shot wildly at the worker but hit the goose who then died. The two farms could not sustain themselves without the goose's contribution, and they soon failed.
The goose is the public education system, and the gold is the daily and yearly education that all our students get. As bills on charter schools and voucher programs work their ways through our legislatures, public education is threatened. The underlying reason why public education is threatened is that the public is not getting a fair deal. Last week the Port Washington Teachers Association (PWTA) bought a full page ad that said, "The teachers of Port Washington regret ending the school year without a new contract." If the ad were honest it would have said. "The teachers of Port Washington regret ending the school year without a new contract on our terms."
Students need more time in the year to improve curriculum coverage and depth. There are also educational control issues in the contract which rightfully belong in the hands of administration and the board of education. This contract negotiation is not about money. It is about teacher education, after-school programming, curriculum and instruction, teacher evaluation and accountability, hours per day, and days per year. This negotiation is about the quality of education our children will receive. The PWTA position is that what the community and students get is good enough; the board position is that it could and should be better. For the first time in decades the board is doing the right thing. I hope the board stays the course for the sake of the students, the community, public education, and the younger teachers' careers. Please call the board members with your support, they will surely collapse under the pressure otherwise. Tell them again and again to stay the course.