Valley teachers authorize strike - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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Valley teachers authorize strike

After more than 18 months of negotiations, the Matanuska-Susitna Education Association has voted to strike. Some 85 percent of the eligible members of the union authorized a strike, but the union must give the district 72 hours notice before calling for the strike.

Bargaining resumes today.

“As we head back to the bargaining table this morning our goal remains the same; to work collaboratively with the School Board to reach a tentative agreement that can be ratified by our members,” the MSEA noted in a press release. “If we cannot reach a compromise, our members have given us a mandate to exercise our legal authority to strike. We will exercise that right if need be.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Was there ever any doubt??

  • What if they held a strike.. and no one cared?

    • Interesting hypothetical but not likely. Unlike Anchorage, MatSu schools are open. Parents will notice if they again must find child care (and in many cases, food) for their kids that is normally provided at no direct cost to them by the schools.

      • I guess that means there will be an increased need for affordable
        Private schools, or interest in the central school, where in many cases the allotment can be used for private schools in addition to home schooling. Either way, the market is there for alternatives to a group that would, when their community has faced so much, try to take advantage of the situation. I think this plays worse for them, doing this now, than basically any other time they could do it. It’s going to look like a petty cash grab, by people who were paid to stay at home, while at the expense of many in the private sector who didn’t have those options and who don’t get nearly the compensation these people do. I think it’s a bad PR move, but I do think it will move more students out of their classrooms going forward, and that’s a good thing.

  • Bad look for teachers in an environment where businesses are failing, people are on unemployment & the private sector overall is taking hits from numerous directions. And, though each school district is different, this also reflects on education employees as a whole…that being wanting increases in pay/benefits in a time when many are making huge sacrifices. No, not a good look at all.

    • Maybe so, but the District is taking advantage of the situation. An independent arbitrator already issued recommendations which the teachers were fine with. The District ignored the arbitrator’s recommendations (why did they even bother other then to delay) and instead issued their “last best offer”, basically ignoring the arbitrator altogether. Give them an inch and they will want the whole mile. The teachers are right.

      • The arbitrator’s recommendation was unaffordable and would have resulted in layoffs within a couple years. Also, the district under the new superintendent offered a LOT more than the previous super while claiming it could be done with a balanced budget, but he needs time to make the changes.

        Read BOTH sides of the bargaining, not just the union’s.

        • Why bother with arbitration then? “Nah, we don’t like what they said because they for the most part agreed the teachers”. They can afford it, the Superintendent may need to get rid of some of his 50+ admin staff and Principals may need to drop a few assistants. District is taking advantage and using Covid as an excuse.

    • Dave there are plenty of jobs out there for the unemployed. It might not be in the realm of what you were doing but it’s a job. People need to get off their ass and quit collecting unemployment and go back to work.

  • Please go on strike. Prove how irrelevant union factory teachers have become. Go ahead and force parents to find alternatives to our lowest in the nation academic outcomes. STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE!!!

    • I’m with you, send them home, no job, no pay, get back to working for your pay not indoctrinating our youth

    • Great point Don! Sadly public ed has become a babysitting service. Those parents who really care will yank their kids out of the system, causing yet another death spiral to test scores.

  • It’s all about the kids ya know.

  • Sounds like 85% of the teachers need to find new jobs. 2/3rds of the valley property tax goes to- Yep. Education.

    I remember sometime ago, the ASD was offered 3,000 fully functioning Dell computers courtesy of the U.S. Army. ASD turned their noses up to them. They were not brand new.

    • What does ASD have to do with this?

  • Learn to code. Oh, wait, that would be harder than getting an Ed. degree.

    • No it wouldn’t be lmao. I can code, however I certainly could not teach.

      • I’ll bet you could get the degree, though.

    • Learn physics. Oh, wait, that would be harder then getting a computer sci degree.

  • Well seeing as they closed the school down earlier for COVID, proves that the current line up of teachers aren’t essential. Maybe we should hire some new ones and give them a try.

    • Huh? “The school”? This is a district of over 40 schools so that doesn’t make much sense.

  • Good, all those Marxist Indoctrination Centers teach are Communism and how to put a condom on by the age of 9. They sure don’t teach traditional family values, reading, writing or math. Let them go on strike for ever. Home school your children and save them a lifetime of trauma from these Marxist Reprobate Pedo enablers in the “Public School System” cause.

    • Sorry for your experiences with condoms, indoctrination, and pedophiles in school. Thankfully that’s a rare occurrence though.

    • Your experiences just seem awful and I hope you seek help.

  • Strike away, think of the money Matsu will save not paying for wages and benefits while you are on the street. What a bunch of morons. In the middle of economic collapse in the state, getting your ass in the air because you want more of what there is a shortage of is stupid. And these people are teaching kids! Wow, critical thinking is out the window with this group.

  • Do any of you snowflakes have a clue how much teachers make vs how much expensive education (and ongoing education) they must have?? And I’d love to see you complainers control 30 kids in a classroom with 15 IEP’s and 3 diagnosed emotionally disturbed and still manage to actually TEACH much!! Teaching is one of, if not THE lowest paid/education level and least respected professions there is! Teachers do NOT teach for the money. They teach because they love teaching kids, touching the future. But they need a decent income and respect, too. Yes, I was a teacher. I was medically retired early (in 2000) by a student who was careless and didn’t follow rules. If not for that, I would have retired last year.

    • Mrs. A., Nice transference “snowflake”. Yes, there are dedicated teachers. But unfortunately, too many teachers don’t educate anymore. They babysit, indoctrinate, and pass off problems.

      While some of your commentary has merit, unfortunately, teachers don’t have one of the lowest salaries. Perhaps 20 years ago it was lower than others, but now teachers, when salary and benefits are compared, make more than many of the others in their community. Starting off, there is the job security that teachers have. Compare that with all those who were laid off during the 2008 recession, or the current plummet of oil/fuel prices, or those who lost their businesses/jobs during the China-Flu kneejerk. Teachers love to compare their salaries to others, but negate the fact that their salaries are for a 9 month a year job vs others full year jobs. If true comparison was to happen, then you need to compare their salaries, PLUS the 3+ month PAID vacation they have. Also, don’t forget the typical step increase to their salaries for longevity and any additional education. Do other jobs get paid more for going to school? I don’t.

      Managing 30 kids. That’s part of the job you proclaim they love. Why do teachers bring up problem children they deal with and feel like they are the only ones dealing with them? Where do you think these problem children go when they get older? If teachers truly love their jobs, they should be finding ways to identify and change these issues. They don’t go away when they pass them on and graduate them. These same kids now enter the world and can’t find a job or worse, immediately jump into crime or victimhood. If the teachers who “love” their job are so proficient in their art, why haven’t they found a way to change the outcomes? Other jobs have to deal with the changing world and must do so effectively or they will be out of a job. Not teachers. They blame others and then jump on the victim train of poor me, I’m unappreciated and underpaid.

      • My wife is a teacher in the MatSu and she is only paid 9 months of the year. So what are you talking about they get “3+ paid months vacation”? She works additional jobs most summers. Do you even know what you are talking about? She is also run through the wringer and spends her evenings and weekends on this BS. Stressed out of her mind half the time but is stuck thanks to her education and student loans associated with this line of work, drank the coolaid years ago that this was some meaningful line of work. Stuck 4VR. And not by the kids, but by the parents and admin who don’t really seem to care. Most unappreciated BS job ever teaching people like your loin litter to the standards set by the school board, States, and feds while bearing most the criticism from ignorant people thanks to bring the face of our education system. Yet their failures MUST be hers, right? Please get a clue.

      • Mrs. A is right, you do indeed sound like a snowflake.

  • Negotiating with the school board for 18 months without a resolution sounds like teachers aren’t being paid fairly for the service they are providing.
    Those speaking of the curriculum deficits; should consider that teachers don’t choose the curriculum. Teachers choose how to teach the curriculum they’ve been given to teach.
    Parents have ultimately allowed the school district to choose the curriculum, their children have been and are being taught. It’s up to parents to change the system. It’s up to parents to decide to use the public education offered at MSBSD or not.
    My child is the most important and treasured asset in my life and will effect the future of this world. How the world is affected throughout his life by him being apart of it, matters. Being the change you want to see in the world is real. I chose private school with some homeschool options, for my child, because the MSBSD doesn’t have the values or quality curriculum I require to be taught. A basic person would tell you I couldn’t afford it and a wise person would say it was all an invaluable investment. I chose best for my child and according to my teaching abilities and time constraints.
    Parents “should” choose what’s best for their own child(ren). Blaming teachers or their unions for negotiating for a Year and a Half to get fair pay, is wrong. Blaming teachers for the curriculum taught, when the MSBSD chooses it, is wrong. Parents blaming anyone other than themselves for accepting the curriculum chosen by the school district, is wrong.
    Parents will have to band together to see the change they want in the MSBSD; if change is to happen. Examples: Smaller class sizes; curriculum that is accurate historically and taught linearly, in a more practical to learn, with better retention rate, style. Classes that teach real life skills. School practices that teach mutual respect instead of being submissive to bullying by ignoring or other. Learning assertiveness tools to help solve disagreements and help teach and foster accountability.
    More people with ideas on how to bring about change in a constructive manner, is better than a few people coming up with all the ideas and models to implement them. The School Board may welcome the direction, and some on the board may not.
    Whatever your educational choices for your child(ren) is/are, public, charter, board, private, homeschool, private tutor, individual homeschool teacher, utilizing all or some or one of the above; is yours alone to make. Only you can decide what is best form of teaching for your childS education.
    No matter what form of education you choose for your child; be the change needed to provide the level you expect them to be taught at. Be involved in their education as much as you can be within your abilities.
    People are taught to give you what you tolerate. If public education is lacking and you enroll your child anyway, and do not contribute to be the change you want for your child, you’re showing what you’ll tolerate it.
    The changes I needed for my child’s education to be adequate through public school, would have taken a banding together of parents and years of sharp revisions. A private school, home school programs, and my involvement, offered the level I expected for curriculum to be taught at, with the morals I expected reinforced. This choice was my own and how I dealt with what public education offered my child.
    Your child(ren)s education decision, Is your decision. Good Luck!

  • I would go out of my way to defend any one’s right to express their views and opinions, something that seems to be missing in many cases in present society. However, having examined the issues and dispute between the Matsu teachers and Matsu School Board, and having a fairly good sense of the problems, I find some of the comments submitted for this article disingenuous and frankly, simply wrong. Instead of spouting off and chastising the teachers regarding their perceived stand, you might want to take 15 minutes and do some research to see what the real issues are so that you can arrive at a balanced opinion. I also find it interesting that at least two comments posted here critical of the teachers are from folks that don’t live in the Valley. You, my friends, have no ‘dog in this fight’ so why even offer up a comment? You show your ignorance. For what it’s worth, I’m not a teacher nor know anyone that is in the state.

  • The valley teachers are employing the same tactic another ‘public employee’ union used with AMHS. Do not pursue negotiations. Strike while the opportunity affords maximum damage to the employer. The ferry workers (public) decided to ‘strike’ during the busiest part of the basically three month season that determines 75% or more of the year’s legitimate income for AMHS. Especially is you take away the state subsidy. The unions don’t care. Do the most damage to the employer (public citizens) that can possibly be inflicted. All in pursuit of more leftist oriented demands, the main one- more of Other Peoples’ Money. Notice, the teachers waited until Joe and Jane citizen thought the government inflicted wuhan crisis had diminished and their life would go back to semi-normal. Schools are open. The parents again schedule their lives around the fact that the kids will be in school, for the day, five days a week. More freedom for parents to seek additional income, perform community service, whatever, and the kids would get the ‘education’ that takes three fourths or more of the tax money. The ‘teachers’ could care less. They want what they want. Everything and everyone else becomes secondary or non-existent, including the kids. Disrupt lives for maximum impact. I foresee BLM recognition as a demand, maybe reparations, free anything they can think of. What next? A riot? Above all, more money. It disgusts me. An example of how public employee unions are a good thing (for some).
    If the public school education ranked even in the top 25, it could be worth it. Currently ranked Alaskan public schools and their salaries, bonuses and paid vacations, some of the highest, are far beyond deserved. A huge cut would be more like it.

    • Huh? Thank the school board for timing this. Every bit of the timeline has been under their control, for the past 18 months of no contract. The District is attempting to use everything that’s going on to their advantage to sway folks like you. And you say the teachers have adopted “Do not persue negotiations”? What??? Both sides called in an arbitrator, who for the most part agreed with the teachers. Teachers were fine with the compromise the arbitrator formulated; it’s the district who crossed their arms and said they didn’t care what he arbitrator said and haven’t budged since. So who isn’t negotiating? Teachers certainly are.
      And the reference to BLM is just plain stupid. My wife is a conservative Trump loving teacher in the MatSu district and most her teacher friends are too so don’t throw out the stupid “must be a Marxist / communist / liberal” nonsense, you are talking about your educated and often conservative neighbors when you dismiss them so quickly outright without having the full story.

      • Hey there Joe,

        Ordinarily I wouldn’t respond to you. Your comment and statements speak for themselves. The school board did not call a strike. The teachers’ union did on the teachers’ behalf. The arbitrator that the teachers liked so much is tilted towards liberal/leftist causes and they picked him. The teachers loved him. No mention of the other arbitrator? Why not? No matter, the teachers should have instigated their ‘strike’ at a more practical time for the citizens to rearrange their lives once more to accommodate their greed. Liberal, marxist? Unions have been described as the closest thing to socialism. As far as BLM, nothing is stupid when the left is driving. I am concerned about my neighbors and their kids too. My opinion and yours on who are the ‘educated’ seems to differ. I know the story, not first hand, but I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t have a differing opinion than yours, based on what facts are available. I try not to make comments based on maybe. I won’t call you stupid either (yet).

        • Joe is right. While I don’t pretend to know the full story here unlike you Ben, I do know a few conservative teachers in the MatSu. Lumping them together as Marxists and supporters of Burn-Loot-Murder because they disagree with their employer is indeed pretty offensive, and ignorant at least.

  • Well I know they start around 45 or $50,000 a year and if you get a masters it goes up from there. I knew one that had a doctorate degree and was teaching seven math students making $75,000 a year. Most school districts pay for continuing education classes for the teachers so they’re not out that money just time. Teaching is a pretty good gig unless you get a bunch of students who are basically a little spoiled hoodlums and you’re not getting any help or support from the parents so you have to spend most of your time dealing with them cheating the rest of the students out of an education in the classroom. But that’s the game in public education.

    • Greg,
      There have always been disrupters in school. That old remedy, ‘discipline’ used to take care of it. Many kids will do what they can get away with. The system says it’s their right, now days. Teachers are at a loss for any workable solution as long as the system cripples any disciplinary action. The teachers must now rely on their wit and wisdom (lacking in many) to take care of unruly children. Discipline long forgotten.
      Have you heard that quote from George Bernard Shaw? “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”.
      Voting makes a difference at the school board too.

      • Truly spoken by somebody long disconnected from the the school system. MatSu pays nothing towards teachers’ continuing education, that’s all out of their own pocket including their certifications. And $75k salary for a doctorate is downright pathetic in this country. Teachers should be getting double what they do. “A pretty good gig”, compared to what? And most kids today are indeed spoiled brats with disinterested parents unlike your experience in the 50s. You couldn’t pay me $500k to put up with what these folks have to deal with. These teachers are public servant saints and deserve every penny, benefit, and then some.

      • Yes I have heard that I’m not sure what you mean by it though. I used to build houses, mansions in fact and I can’t do that anymore so I teach kids how to do it. I used to play football, college football and I can’t do that anymore either so at one point, I was a football coach. There’s nothing wrong with being a teacher it’s an honorable occupation. Don’t fault the teachers for the parents lacking parenting skills.

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