Monday, February 21, 2011

An Open Letter to the Community from SPEA

We received this from SPEA this afternoon...
An open letter to the Sun Prairie Community…

Dear Students, Parents, Educators, and Community Members,

The events of the last week have left many with questions, concerns, and a lot of emotions. In an effort to answer those questions, address those concerns, and help to calm the emotions we are all feeling, I offer a few thoughts:

There are few things in life that are shared experiences. One of those things is going to school. We have all, at one time or another, gone to school. Some had good experiences, some did not – but we have all been in school and been offered a public education. Public education is often a right we take for granted, but our schools and our education system have been built through the struggle of voters, communities, parents, students, and yes – the unions. Collective Bargaining has brought many key components of education to the
forefront from both the union and management side. There are also many benefits that have spilled over into the private sector.

To have great schools, we need three ingredients: great teachers, supportive parents and community members, and students with a desire to learn. Sun Prairie has those things now. We just built an amazing new high school! We are a growing community with eager students who are excited to go to school. Great things are happening in Sun Prairie Schools! And we have great teachers: teachers that have their National Board
Certification, those who are certified in many areas, those who have gotten their Masters Degree. We have so many teachers who put in extra hours before and after school to be sure that their students get to experience the highest level of quality education. Sun Prairie is frequently at the forefront of public education policies, curricula, and educational ideas. We led in the area of multiple settings for Early Childhood services,
and with our 4K program. We are proud of what we have accomplished with the help and support of the community here.

Thursday was a very difficult day for teachers in this district. We believe in and support the excellent schools in Sun Prairie, and we wanted to be with our students. However, we also want Sun Prairie schools to continue to be great. We want to protect the future of the children of this district. Effective teachers’ unions attract great teachers because the great teachers want to work in places where they are respected and appreciated. The union’s right to bargain is a right that allows us to obtain and then maintain the highest quality
education for the students and the future of Sun Prairie.

We understand there is frustration and confusion. We feel it too! For those of us that made the difficult choice to be absent yesterday, please accept our apologies for the inconvenience and hurt that may have caused you and your families. We love our jobs, and we love this community. We hope you will understand that each of us is trying to find the best solutions to these complex problems, and to do what is right. Please know that we continue to need your patience and support.

We have made a commitment to be here for our students going forward and will honor that commitment. We hope you realize that our frustration and subsequent actions on Thursday are focused on Governor Walker’s Budget “Repair” Bill and not the students and community of Sun Prairie. We look forward to continuing the positive working relationships we have had with Students, Parents, Community Members, Administrators, and the Board of Education. Sun Prairie is a great place to live and work, and we want to keep it that way!

The Sun Prairie Education Association