INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A member of the Pike Township Schools Equity Council has resigned, saying the district’s failure to negotiate new teacher contracts is having an impact on the council’s work.
For the sixth time this school year, several students were on an e-learning day Thursday due to teacher absences.
Former board member Deb Dunlevy says the negotiations had the biggest impact on the students. She explained her frustration in her resignation letter to the superintendent, saying the equity board cannot do its job “without the participation of quality teachers with adequate training and experience in equity.”
âThe mere idea that we wouldn’t invest in it just told me that there wasn’t really a ground-level commitment to bring these equity initiatives to fruition that I hoped there was. âSaid Dunlevy.
Her position in the district is strictly voluntary, but she says the board – which is made up of both staff and community members – has made some serious changes in schools over the years.
âI was actually very happy with the amount of direct action that was taken,â Dunlevy said. âNot just sitting in meetings and talking, which is mainly what we do, but then continuing with direct actions. For example, one of the goals we set for ourselves was for our teachers to be trained and implement certain types of culturally relevant teaching.
You can read his full letter to the Superintendent here:
Dear Dr Flora,
I am writing to officially resign from my job with the Pike Equity Council.
The events of the last few months have convinced me that the leadership of this council is only interested in the appearance of seeking fairness and not in the action necessary to make our district more equitable in fact.
Realizing that since I am not a Pike employee there was probably a lot that I did not understand, I investigated as much as possible over the past few months of labor disputes and waited to see some signs of the commitment to fairness you have previously expressed. I spoke at length with a parent who is an accountant who has carefully reviewed Pike’s budget. I spoke with many teachers at all levels, union members and non-members, and found detailed information about what is going on. Still, I hoped that speaking up and making our support for teachers heard would be enough to sway what must certainly already be your desire.
But the public announcement of two new teacher offers followed by the information that neither offer contained raises for the experienced teachers who needed them most finally convinced me that you are not negotiating a good deal. faith and do not intend to do more than the law requires you to do. This is not a commitment to fairness.
I and other members of this council have put in unpaid hours in hopes of moving our district towards more equitable practices, but now I see other priorities will always take precedence.
Dr Flora, I urge you to consider the work we have done over the past three years.
After identifying the equity needs in our schools, we developed a strategic plan with three main objectives. 1. By May 2024, 75% of Pike Township MSD staff will implement Cultural Support Practices (CSP) that support an equitable learning environment. 2. By July 1, 2024, MSD programs in Pike Township are accessible to all and reflect the demographics of the district. 3. Using terms 1 to 3 of the 2018-2020 school years as a benchmark, the number of disciplinary referrals on each individual campus of Black / African American students will decrease by 20% by July 1, 2024.
Each of these objectives, the entirety of our work, depends for its implementation on the involvement of quality teachers with adequate training and experience in equity matters. To work towards Goal 1, we have invested countless hours (and also funds) in professional development to train teachers in culturally sustainable practices. We have chosen equity facilitators for each building from among our teachers and staff. For Goal 2, we discussed at length the need for continuous professional development in the selection of our high capacity programs.
Currently, those who best understand how to identify high potential students are the HA teachers who have paid for their own HA training. To achieve Goal 3, teachers and other staff were selected in each building to spend after-hours time analyzing disciplinary references and developing plans to improve the way referrals are handled. . Many, if not most, of these equity facilitators and discipline committee members are experienced teachers in the least competitive pay category compared to other districts, which means that these valued members of our equity work on the ground are likely to leave our neighborhood.
Knowing this as I know, I see no point in continuing to attend meetings and discuss equity initiatives that are doomed to fail due to a lack of commitment to the type of the self-reflective and highly qualified teachers and staff we need to put them into practice.
My family and I remain committed to Pike Schools and the pursuit of equity in our community. But from now on, we’ll be dedicating our time to working with those who truly share our commitment.
In a statement, a district spokesperson said, âOur equity council does essential work and it is always disheartening to lose a passionate member. As a district, we value our educators and staff and are committed to working for a just and responsible resolution. Unfortunately, inaccurate information is circulating regarding the ongoing negotiations. We will continue to follow the process, negotiate in good faith and seek short and long term solutions that will allow us to make significant progress in employee compensation. ”
Right now the district and teachers’ union are waiting for a mediator to hopefully settle the negotiations. The date on which this will occur has not been communicated to News 8.