It's like the old Aaron Tippin song says, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." This is where my husband and I stand.
Today in Crosby-Ironton, we marked a first. The elementary school reopened its doors to the first grade only and ran it with scab labor. We have a first-grader in our household. Our precious first-grader stayed home with her siblings (who don't have open class for their grades) and her parents. These are people she knows and trusts. She also knows and trusts Mrs. Brenda Wood who is her first grade teacher. We made a point of meeting Mrs. Wood before the start of the school year and made a parent/teacher connection before our daughter set foot into her classroom. This option wasn't given to us with the scabs that walked in the front door. Who are the scabs? I sure don't feel comfortable sending our quiet and shy daughter in when we don't even know who the scabs are.
Even without the above argument, what are people thinking? These teachers on strike aren't bad people. It is their right to strike; state law says so. If people don't stand up for what they believe in, are entitled to and have been promised, we all lose, even if you are a non-union worker. If they win, we all win. It trickles down. Everyone should be for the "working man and woman." After all, most of us are like them. Not very many of us are CEO's of the 3M corporation or in management positions.
A lack of concern for students
"They had a great day" says the Crosby-Ironton superintendent, about first-graders who returned to school last Thursday. What exactly does that mean? Fact is that the administration of Crosby-Ironton Schools has replaced highly qualified first-grade teachers with people from outside the district who are not qualified or licensed to teach first grade.
Minnesota has a licensing procedure to guarantee that elementary students are taught by teachers trained in age-appropriate curriculum designed to educate a student from kindergarten through sixth grade, teachers trained in the development of children at each level.
Classroom teachers are trained and licensed to be elementary teachers or secondary teachers licensed in specific subject areas. These licenses are not interchangeable. No teacher can request that his/her license be expanded to include the other area without completing college courses. No reputable school district will hire a person who holds a secondary Spanish license to teach first grade.
"They had a great day."
The teachers from outside the district who were hired at what is reported as $300 a day are not first-grade teachers. Many have only what is called a short-call substitute license that the state of Minnesota has granted them to substitute teach for not more than 15 consecutive days in one classroom. They are licensed only to provide work for students that is developed and prepared by the regular classroom teacher. They are not qualified, nor are they licensed to develop instruction.
There are 87 qualified teachers on strike who have said there is something wrong in Crosby-Ironton. This strike is not only about financial misinformation; this strike is also about the administration's lack of concern for the well-being and education of our students.
But, "They had a great day."
Questions on replacement teachers
Parents, do you know who these so-called "qualified instructors" who are in our first grade classrooms are? We don't. All we really know about them is that they were apparently unable to get a real teaching position, so they answered our superintendent's ad in a newspaper. We assume the district has run standard background checks on these people, but unfortunately, we do not know what the background checks may have revealed.
Our question is this: if these "qualified instructors" are as competent as our administration would have you believe, why don't they have jobs of their own? But the administration avoids addressing that issue, because they are so desperate to replace us that they seem to believe anyone is "qualified" to teach our kids.
The sad fact of the matter is that if the superintendent spent half as much time trying to settle this contract as she spends waging war against her employees, we'd have a settlement by now, and our children would once again be sitting in front of real teachers.
More on 'country boy mentality'
In response to a recent letter to the editor and related letters on Pop Vox from Thursday, Feb. 24: How dare people insinuate that "country boy mentality" is a backward way of thinking! That "country boy mentality" is what has made this area what it is. People are flocking to the Brainerd Lakes Area for its quality of life. That quality of life is maintained by people keeping this area friendly. Many of the longtime locals are concerned about Brainerd/Baxter's growth. The influx of big metro area people to our small towns is like a mold that we found in the shower walls. We better take care of the problems before they rot the studs.
Kudos to Sen. Koering for calling a duck a duck and having the grapes to do it! Since when does defending yourself and your business or livelihood make you the villain? And as far as what color the criminals were, Mr. Koering was simply stating a fact. The police would have asked him what color they were as part a routine report. A crook is a crook, regardless of color or reasons for robbing. Nipping this problem in the bud is the best way to keep it from growing with Brainerd/Baxter!
Yes, we should have open minds, but not so open that our brains fall out.
First-grade teachers' reaction
We cannot put into words the heartbreak we experienced watching our children riding in school buses past us, the teachers who love them. We know that the replacement "teachers" do not care for our kids and do not know how to teach first grade. Knowing that the district supports the use of non-qualified replacements distresses us beyond words.
The sorrow surrounding our children is great; the sorrow surrounding the fact that the district is spending so much effort using kids to hurt us instead of using that effort to settle the contract is equally great.
We pray that the community asks, "What would make first-grade teachers who love their students and who are passionate about education take a stand of this magnitude?"
and two other Crosby-Ironton first grade teachers
Let your voice be heard
Who paid for the new school? Who pays your wages and benefits? Who pays for the replacement teachers? It sure is not the union. You people don't like the pay and benefits, leave. The taxpayers of C-I are all but fed up with your outrageous demands. You're too overqualified to teach our kids, then you should hit the road. I just don't understand...How can you even look at yourself in the mirror and have a straight face knowing that you're all privileged to be working in Crosby making $55,000 for nine months, while the taxpayers are working 12 months and only getting $30,000, if that, without insurance. If you expect us to give you any more you're sadly mistaken. C-I parents, taxpayers, elderly, unite! Let your voice be heard!
Rep. Kennedy and privatization
In the Friday, Feb. 25, edition of the Brainerd Dispatch, it is stated that Congressman Mark Kennedy is not ready to support privatization of Social Security. At last there is one Republican in the country who is smart enough to realize that privatization will not solve the impending "crisis" in Social Security. In fact, privatizing Social Security will worsen the projected shortfall. I hope Congressman Kennedy will work with the rest of Minnesota's congressional delegation to solve the shortfall question first. After that has been solved, then they could work on privatizing any excess in collected Social Security taxes.
I'd hate to see a 'bad day'
As some of the Crosby-Ironton first-graders returned back to school, the superintendent was quoted in the paper as saying, "they had a great day !"
I don't understand; is it great to watch the teachers and students both anguishing over the fact that they aren't going back to school together? Is it great seeing the dreams and hopes of high school athletes dashed away? Is it great to disclose information which was agreed upon to keep private along with giving misinformation, again? is it great to pay replacement workers three times the amount a regular sub would get in a district which can't afford a settlement" Is it great to stand by and watch your community being torn apart more and more each day?
A great day will come soon when someone has the strength and courage to bring respect, honesty and compassion back to the negotiations table so that a settlement can and will be reached.
Boy, I would hate to see a "bad day" in her world.
Koering is no embarrassment
Sen. Paul Koering is not an embarrassment to Brainerd, despite the contortions a recent letter writer went through to try to prove her point. He is a Brainerd businessman who had just foiled an attempted robbery at his place of business. He was only stating a fact when he said that a city's growth brings more crime.
That doesn't mean he thinks the city should not grow. Quite the opposite. As a businessman, he wants the city to grow. Growth means more customers. Also, as a state senator, he has sponsored and helped pass numerous bills to encourage growth in Brainerd and the entire Morrison/Crow Wing County area. His record of success in St. Paul disproves everything the letter writer tried to say about his "country-boy mentality" and "lack of forward thinking."
Maybe he was too emotional when he talked to Mike O'Rourke about the accusations made by the Crow Wing County Human Rights Commission and uttered the word "damn." He probably should have used a calmer word, but he had just foiled an attempted robbery and here was this commission twisting his words around and falsely claiming he did not welcome diversity to the area. I don't blame him for being angry. Especially since he knew the commission chair had formally worked for former Sen. Don Samuelson, who he defeated two years ago, and he suspected the real motive was an excuse to attack him.
A recent letter in the Dispatch from Carol Rose, the commission chair, shows that the commission has backed away from their accusations, as they should. This letter writer should do the same. Sen. Koering is an asset to the area. We are fortunate to have him representing us in St. Paul.
C-I athletes used as hostages
After reading your recent article about the Crosby girls basketball team I was stunned by the display of callousness and the use of student athletes as negotiating hostages.
It struck me as heartless and gutless! Good luck explaining to the kids how ruining their expectations helped your position and pocketbook one bit. A real low point in labor relations displayed by "caring teachers."
Non-toxic bug and weed control
Over the years I developed the desire to totally rid myself of bugs and weeds. This led to consistent use of pesticides and herbicides, which led to multiple health problems within our family.
Today, after being injured by these chemicals, I view bugs and weeds a lot differently. I now consider the environment to be safe for people when I see a lively bug or a tenacious weed, and, therefore, I no longer strive for, or even desire, an environment free of them. Also, I have learned that the elimination of either one is impossible, no matter what one uses. Pesticides did not rid our home of roaches in Florida. Herbicides did not rid us of all our weeds. Mosquito spraying does not eliminate the mosquito. All of these methods merely controlled them.
So, we now use healthy alternatives to control bugs and weeds. Although this takes more time and forethought, I now know it is worth the effort to look for non-toxic solutions to bug and weed control. Gratefully, there are also non-toxic approaches to deal with mosquitoes. The simplest is to let them have the great outdoors at their peak times. As for weeds, if I cannot pull them by hand, or kill them naturally, I then accept them as part of life. I would rather have my health than a weed-free yard and garden. It is as simple as that.
A little extra planning and study on how to control pesky bugs and weeds with healthy alternatives will greatly reduce many chronic and debilitating health problems. Truly, this kind of research can be very rewarding as the yard and garden can be enjoyed without the fear of being poisoned. Thank you for seriously considering non-toxic approaches to bug and weed control.
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