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The signs are sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant, but the campaign to knock teachers out of the decision-making process is real and concerted. Item: district memos refer to teachers as staff members, rather than as faculty members. Item: a former Port school board member insists in print that teachers be viewed as distinct from their union. Item: A persistent, letter-writing gadfly continues to denigrate teachers in the Port News. Item: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial board calls for an end to the "public school monopoly" and declares that the National Education Association's interests are no longer "the interests of the nation."

This campaign to diminish the professional status of teachers affects Port Washington in the current contract negotiations between the district and its teachers. The signs point to an effort to still the voice of the Port Washington teachers when educational decisions are made.

As long as I have been a teacher in Port Washington, I have felt the opportunity and the obligation to participate in shared decision-making through the supervisory structure and the joint committee agreement. I feel today, as never before in my career, an overt effort to preclude teacher participation. There is a faction that would be content with teachers as functionaries¬silent and submissive, having no voice in the day to day, month to month, year to year decisions that shape the educational process.

So it isn't about money or productivity, except to the extent that salary issues are used as a wedge to separate teachers from their ideals.

Faculty is a powerful word. It implies knowledge, wisdom, experience, perception, judgment. Turn your faculty into staff members by taking them out of shared decision-making, and you will have removed a forceful voice dedicated to traditional values, historical perspectives and child-centered professionalism.

M. Hamburger

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