We are about to lose one of the best parts of our children’s education: the ALLEM adjuncts– those hard workers who help your children in the classroom learn Spanish or Japanese. Parents at other schools could also be at risk of losing similar enhancements to their children’s education. Worse, parents’ ability to “volunteer” may be reduced or eliminated.
ORIGIN OF THE CRISIS
According to the district, the origin of this “crisis” is the threat of a lawsuit against the district issued by the leader of the Association of Classified Employees, Debbi Hamme. The district has told parents that all parent funded positions and other volunteer work by parents that could be seen as taking away work from members of Ms. Hamme’s association may have to stop. The parents would then be responsible to give enough funds to the district so that it could hire members of Ms. Hamme’s association for those positions. Under this system, none of our current adjuncts would be guaranteed a position and ALLEM would have no control over the adjunct program.
Linwood E. Howe had created and fundraised for four in-class instructional assistants for the 2010-11 year and had fund raised enough for six this year. After legal action was raised by the classified association, the parents had to cut back the hours of their employees– and the services provided– significantly. Instead of six instructional assistants the parents had to scale back and have gone most of the year with three part-time positions. The head of the booster club at LinHowe is not confident the program will continue without a clear policy from the school board.
The leaders of ALLEM at El Marino were also told that they could no longer run the adjunct program. They would have to turn over all the money they privately fundraised to the district and the district would hire the union members. According to the heads of ALLEM, this would end the adjunct program completely. It would become too expensive, services would be drastically cutback, and major donors would stop their support.
THE RESTRICTION OF PARENTS’ RIGHTS
The problem is that it is so difficult for parents to fund raise that we could never afford to maintain the positions we currently fund if they had the extra expenses associated with being a district employee and member of the association. Requiring state or federally funded position to be union members should be applauded– such union membership helps their unions protect school funding at the state and federal level. But no such rationale is true for parent funded positions– or positions where parents volunteer in.
Our district has a strong, rich history of parent funded and created positions in this district at almost all of the schools. We also have a culture here where some of our parents volunteer hours and hours every day in the classroom or at the school site. Such efforts should be applauded, not threatened by a lawsuit. This is especially true considering the constant cutbacks forced by the state budget mess.
WHAT ALL PARENTS NEED TO DO NOW
It is your duty as a parent to make sure the school board makes the correct decision on this. The first step is to pass this message on to your email lists, facebook friends etc. The second step is to support the parents at the various schools who will be speaking at the next 3 school board meetings on February 14, February 28 and March 13 . Please sign up on our website or facebook page to let us know which meeting you will attend.
Stay tuned for updates at ParentsHaveRights.org .
Gina Marie Walker