Mar 17 2011

Opinion: Snow isn’t the only reason we’re not Wisconsin

An Open Letter Submitted by the Piedmont Education Foundation and the Associated Parents Clubs of Piedmont

With spring upon us here in Piedmont, chilly gray images of picketing demonstrators in front of the Wisconsin capitol look particularly bleak.  Public unions, governments and taxpayers are warring over budget shortfalls and engaged in pitched battles.  Not so here.  While Piedmont’s education funding gap was not unique in this economic crisis, the capacity of our stakeholders to work together to find solutions is quite otherwise.

Last week heralded an event that sets Piedmont apart from many communities in the country:  our teachers’ union negotiated a new contract that will likely lead the way for all our employee concessions to save a total of $2.2 million over two years.  It even includes contingency language that allows for further cuts if the governor’s budget and tax measures fail this spring.  This will significantly help to bear the burden of Piedmont’s school funding crisis. The teachers acted purposefully and unequivocally – with a vote of 128 to 16 for approval.

We are grateful to our teachers for their important role in helping close the budget gap.  And please remember, these are not the salaries of bankers with their hands in the till that are being cut – these cuts will have an impact on their lives.  Nonetheless, under the steady guidance of Superintendent Hubbard, negotiations were collaborative and constructive, and their outcome is evidence that teachers, parents and community are all playing for the same team.

With all this talk of finances and budgets, it’s easy to forget the whole reason we’ve gone through this exercise – the students, their learning and the miracle of teaching.  For as important as the changes in the new contract are, they won’t change the experience of our children.  No matter the details, the language, this clause or that – teaching remains a human endeavor that transcends the administrative details of a spreadsheet.  Years from now when this contract is dusty, forgotten, stored in some digital file, that miracle will live on.  And the experience of lab work in Mr. Greenebaum’s science room, debates in Ms. Goen’s history class, or bread making with Mr. Taylor will be permanently stored within our children.

So thank you, Piedmont teachers, for your collaboration, for working to balance our budget – but mostly for helping to preserve these experiences for our students.  It’s not just our budding cherry blossoms that make us grateful to be in Piedmont.


Amal Smith, President, Piedmont Education Foundation
Mary Ireland, President, Associated Parents Clubs of Piedmont

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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