LETTER: Proposed Contract Not Ratified By Teachers By More Than Two to One Margin

The following is a letter to the editor. To submit your own letter to the editor, e-mail us at westford@patch.com




The Westford Education Association overwhelmingly voted not to ratify the proposed tentative agreement for a new contract by more than a two to one margin.

The membership has spoken, and rejected the agreement reached after fourteen months of bargaining that culminated in a seven-hour mediation session.

Clearly, the teachers are sending a message that previously agreed to step increases should be honored while a new contract is being negotiated. That is the customary practice in Massachusetts and is required by law.

In light of this vote, the WEA will reinstate the prohibited practice charge we filed seeking to require the district to honor the salary schedule.

Bargaining will also have to resume. Whatever the outcome, Westford's teachers will continue to provide our students with an excellent education.


Mary McCusker

Westford Education Association Bargaining Negotiations Lead/Vice President

Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM
@Bettilou, I was not taking any jabs at the sped ed. I KNOW there is alot of wasted spending there. I am very thankful I have not had to deal with this and know many have. I am very compassionate towards this and all the more reason I would like to see the children who REALLY need it receive it... I KNOW for a fact that many parents threaten lawsuits and this puts the school in fear and there you go a child that may just need a little extra help now taking away from someone who REALLY needs it. @Fugazzi I didn't say they were all sped mandated a said mostly. As for seeing cars that these kids drive?? Are you for real??? I am starting to think this is not just about the STEPS that were promised but teachers that are very JEALOUS of their students!!!! Talking about their vacations and cars they drive is just down right sick!!! You have no idea how these people pay for this or their circumstances. We do not have to explain to you our life. Teachers are their to TEACH! You don't want to TEACH QUIT and get another JOB!!!!! I had no idea you sit in these classrooms and think such judgmental thoughts about your students!!!! @WPS Elementary, Sorry to hear you had to go to an EXPENSIVE out of state school when their are so many wonderful in-state colleges... I am getting ready to pay for my daughter to go to school, I do not feel like paying for YOU to go to school to. I have enough kids to send to college!!!
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM
@Gordon no town will ever be able to properly fund their education because it will never be enough for a teacher!! So the brakes have to be put on NOW!! We are already paying through the nose for the teachers!!! Sport fees, bus fees, activity fees, parking fees!!! Enough already! As for the RISING drug problem, drugs have always been a problem in High Schools. The only rise is parents today dont want to discipline their kids over it.. When we were kids the parents would of killed you if you got caught drugs, drinking etc. Nowadays the parents DO KNOW and dont really care the same. They think they are just going to outgrow it like they did. Well it is a pretty big gamble they are taking!!!! The drugs are alot stronger today and more easily accesible and cheaper with bigger consequences. I feel bad the school is the only one that people feel have to take responsibility.
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM
So it was an in-state college for you. Maybe Vermont will pay you a better teacher salary there. Again, How dare you teachers compare yourself to the students and their choices in life. Just sick to me!!! Seems very JEALOUS! These are parents right and if they can pay for it go for it, if they want to go into debt for it go for it. But do not think I am paying for someone else's bad choices!!!!!!!!
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM
WA Student well said... If you read the thread above the teachers are quite JEALOUS of you kids..... I dont think they are taking it out on you because the STEPS anymore. I think they think everyone in this town is rich and they just want something they think someone else has.....they call that ENTITLEMENT!!!
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Rob Casingineo and WEA IMHO The last thing you want to occur is that some union lackey judge rules in favor of the "PAST PRACTICE" claim of the WEA. Town meeting controls the purse strings and Prop 2 1/2 allows the registered voters in Westford to decide the level of taxation. Democracy at its best. The WEA winning their suit will lead to "literally speaking" blood running in the streets. I can envisioned 200 to 300 municipal employees becoming unemployed.
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Cut the sport, theater, and all extra activities that are big money makers for the school system. That is a very bright suggestion. As for the administration that are making puffy salaries, sure but not to just give to the teachers but to help make this town a llittle more financially sound.
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
@Westford guy why just football???
Molly March 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Also Westford Guy, the football program is incredibly funded as well by a private fundraising group of parents that help to supplement for the things the football program has needed that the program has not been able to afford.... Get your facts Jack!
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Eleanor: Please note that the fees,that the athletic programs bring in, are restricted by state law for use in support of the programs. When I was on the Westford School Committee there were no athletic fees or bus fees or activity fees, etc. The attitude was that all extracurricular programs and busing was paid from the school budget that was funded by the taxpayers.
Christine Flood March 19, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I just wanted to say I support you. I believe teachers are underpaid for the work they do, and I don't think the town is treating you fairly. I personally would vote for a prop 2 1/2 override so we could properly fund our educational system, as well as other town services.
Vincent DiRico March 19, 2012 at 04:10 PM
First I appreciate the job you do. "required by precedent and law" is a stretch to say the least, this time there ain't no dough! Did you enjoy the FSF party of the past few years? Do you know who is now on the hook to pay that back? and what the numbers balloon into (with interest)? I for one am very tired of the childish behavior coming from the teachers (before this "vote" I would have said the union). The picture that goes along with this story/letter makes me wonder how "neutral" this site is.
John Densmore March 19, 2012 at 06:16 PM
@Jesse James The WEA winning their suit will lead to "literally speaking" blood running in the streets. I can envisioned 200 to 300 municipal employees becoming unemployed. As Jim Morrison once sang: "blood in the streets its up to my ankles, blood in the streets its up to my knees" So I guess it will be a bloodbath in town then and you had better put your home on the market now because property values falling to be on par with Ayer and Dracut is the next step of the 300 layoffs and cuts to education (which greatly strengthen home values in town)
Derek March 19, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I seem to remember this was one of the concerns when the stimulus funding was being debated, and when one or two states tried to say "no thanks" to the federal government. The worry was that states would use all that money to fund things they cared about and then in a couple years' time, the money goes away and the state is left with the decision to keep funding a program....or teachers, firefighters, police, curbside pickup, etc......or cancel them and lose the associated jobs. I wonder how many states said "Gosh, we better start planning for what to do in 2 or 3 years when this money goes away. Let's open a dialogue and come up with options for our leadership before the spigott dries up." Not too many, I'm guessing. Anyway, the chickens have come home to roost, and the town needs to decide what its priorities are and fund accordingly. If steps and salary increases need to be funded, then make the tough call and eliminate positions, raise taxes, or cancel other programs. There's no point in bashing the teachers, who have a hard enough job as it is. What does it accomplish but make them feel even less valued than they already do, and than the town keeps showing them?
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Unlike most people, I own my house free and clear. I need a place to sleep and keep warm so my present shack will do regardless of its value on the real estate market place. JD, your statements do reveal an ingrained economic naivete about credit card type of living. Charge to the limit and be concerned only with the minimum monthly payment. Credit card mentality of Westford town officials is the type of behavior that has depleted the fiscal resources of Westford. IMHO I do not believe that Westford will be able to give steps or COLAs for the next 3 to 5 years assuming that people who retire or resign are not replaced or replaced at a much lower salary and benefits. BTW I am assuming (dangerous word) that QE1, QE2 and QExs will not cause a spike in the core inflation.
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 07:39 PM
JD Addendum Any perceived loss in the quality of the Westford schools will be made up by the influx of Asian families who will increase the performance of WA in SATs and AP tests and clinch #1 standing for Westford in MCAS testing. Check the MCAS results of 2000 and % of Asian population vs 2010 and % of Asian population. Furthermore, the Asian students had over 40%+ rated in the Advanced category vs 20% rated Advanced for the Caucasian students.
Wanna Know March 19, 2012 at 08:10 PM
If Asian= high quality student with parents who demand 'results' and test scores- how come Lowell (with a large Asian population) doesnt have the same quality Asian? Or does Westford attract the 'bright hardworking Asian' in which case its not about race so much anyhow? Please explain...
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Lowell is heavily populated with Cambodian farmers who had little education when they arrived in the US in 1975. I and others helped in the resettlement of the Boat People, (Actually the Cambodians were refugees from the Killing Fields). If you make the same analysis on the Lowell MCAS and SATs, you will find that the Cambodian refugees outperform the Caucasian students, The Westford Asian students are primarily of Indian, Chinese and Pakistani ethnic groups. Their families usually have technical degrees but are not driving around in Bentleys and high end Mercedes. BTW The University of California at Berkeley has imposed a cap on the ethnic composition of freshman engineering students that limits the % of Asian students to 50%. This has resulted in at least one law suit on racial discrimination grounds.
S.Sterling March 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Well put, WA student. There are teachers who teach in the same boring, uneventful way over and over again. But then, there are the teachers who care and put thought and pride into their work. My 3 kids have had both types. I don't think anyone here is really 'bashing' teachers, it's just that SOME people DO make $40,000/year in the private sector and oh, btw, we work 8-10 hours/day with only two weeks vacation in a year. I only wish I had chosen to be a teacher, how I would LOVE to make the same pay, and have 12 weeks off every year. You're right, if they don't like what they chose - quit. There's plenty more teachers looking for jobs.
Wayne Pastore March 19, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Dear Jesse, Are you serious with your comments? I thought this website was for thoughtful, intelligent and logical conversation.
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Mr. Pastore, you must equate PC delusional behavior with thoughtful, intelligent and logical conversation. If Ignorance is bliss, you must be a very happy individual Mr. Pastore. I realize that the PC society does not allow the discussion of ethnic background as the basis for a particular ability. Check the results of the PISA tests. The Chinese, South Koreans, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Singapore easily outscore the good old USA, UK, France, etc. LeBron James et al are just figments of our imaginations or is it that the "White Men Can't Jump Syndrome" a real condition. Best learn to speak Mandarin so you can get a job serving the Chinese upper class. I estimate 10 years before the PRC owns over 50% of the federal debt ~ 12 trillion dollars.
WA student March 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
My teachers at WA make me feel shameful for believing in the conservative Republican vision of a moral America. They make me feel guilty for coming from a rich white family and for my priveleage as a white male in the USA. I wanted to do a book report on my hero R Reagan but my history teacher forced me to pick LB Johnson and his 'Great Society' instead. When we learned about Karl Marx and Communism my teacher told the class that the USA is getting better in that we are moving closer to Socialism where our government will give all a free ride on the welfare express, even illegal immigrants. In English class all we read is PC diversity minority authors instead of great classic Ameircan literature and on 'day of silence' day where we are forced to celebrate the gay lifestyle in school I was sent to the dean because I stood up for my Christian Values when I said marriage in the bible is man and woman ONLY. I think those liberal teachers should not get a raise as they indoctrinate us kids into the Obama vision of the future even though my family has voted Republican proudly going back to Warren Harding in 1920. Dont even get me started about the Bump and Grind Dancing they teach us in Phys Ed class but we cant do at dances. Vote Santorum and get rid of the Unions and the Intellectuals!
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Jesse, what does LeBron James and a movie from the 1990s have to do with this update? You're losing me here.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Okay, I think we're getting to the limit here of what is acceptable levels of discourse. If there's anymore incivil comments, I'm closing comments on this piece.
Martin Luther March 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Andrew. I must assume that you never heard of Jimmy the Greek. If you watch an NBA game or even a March Madness contest, you will notice that Afro-American players tend to be the better players. Thus different ethnic groups may excel in a particular endeavor that can be associated with that ethnic group. The fact that an ethnic group excels in a given endeavor, under our constitutional republic all ethnic groups are equal under law. BTW I am puzzled on your statement about limit of discourse. I was under the obviously mistaken impression that freedom of speech and ideas would be something that Westford Patch community would support.
Willie Seward March 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Teachers should be more like Mr. Keating in 'Dead Poets Society' or Michelle Phieffer in 'Dangerous Minds' Teachers who live in the ghetto, and go to great lengths to inspire their students and teach for the sheer joy of it and not concern themselves with 'real world issues' like making a fair salary. Shame on these quasi teachers in Westford. Bring in Mr Keating! Oh Captain my captain!!!
MAHM3 March 20, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Well Willie- I guess when teachers have movies made about them like LouAnne Johnson (played by Michelle Phieffer) you can afford to be underpaid because you are receiving royalties. LouAnne has written many books which she also has been paid for. Look at that there is another teacher who needed a second job to get by. People who have absolutely no idea of what it is like to teach should spend sometime in a teacher's shoes. You will probably have a different view of things then.
Martin Luther March 20, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I am looking for a Jaime Escalante from real life rather than white people going thru a guilt trip. Stand and Deliver is a 1988 American drama film, based on the true story of high school math teacher, Jaime Escalante. In the area of East Los Angeles, California, in 1982, in an environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Jaime Escalante is a new teacher at Garfield High School determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement. Leaving a steady job for a position as a math teacher in a school where rebellion runs high and teachers are more focused on discipline than academics. As the year progresses, he is able to win over the attention of the students by implementing innovative teaching techniques. He is able to transform even the most troublesome teens into dedicated students. .. Despite concerns and skepticism of other teachers, who feel that "you can't teach logarithms to illiterates," Escalante nonetheless develops a program in which his students can eventually take AP Calculus by their senior year, which will give them college credit. This intense math program requires that students take summer classes, including Saturdays from 7:00 AM to noon, taxing for even the most devoted among them. Maybe, Westford can recruit in East LA and get some quality teachers to replace the pack of disgruntled teachers currently employed.
Martin Luther March 20, 2012 at 01:06 AM
An old saying goes like this "They who cannot succeed in life teach." WA students' statement seems to send a message that maybe the Westford school administration and school committee should investigate WA students' statements and eliminate those teaching professionals that obviously are lost in history. Please note that the former communist countries have adopted capitalism as their mantra. Even the 1937 Constitution of the Soviet Union had the following expectations. "To each according to their needs from each according to their abilities and he who does not work will not eat."
Martin Luther March 20, 2012 at 01:17 AM
WA student I suggest that you bring the following phrase from the 1937 constitution of the Soviet Union "To each according to their needs from each according to their abilities and he who does not work shall not eat." I appears that the Soviet Communist did not allow for free rides. The Peoples Republic of China has transformed its economy from a communistic central planning model to a very efficient capitalistic system. All those jobs that disappeared from the electronic assembly plants in the US resurfaced in China. When Steve Jobs was asked by President Obama when Apple computer was planning to bring some of the Apple 470,000contracted jobs in China back to the United States. Steve Jobs replied "Those jobs are not coming back." I do suggest that you learn Mandarin.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 02:39 AM
NOTE: A follow up on the teacher contract issue will be coming at 6 a.m on Tuesday, March 20. The March 20 6 a.m. story and all other stories on this topic will now be held to much more stringent interpretations of the Patch terms of service, with the level of stringency to be held within the discretion of myself and other pertinent Patch employees. Comments on this article will now be closed.


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