Forty-three years ago this week, Bill White, my hero, hired me as a teacher at Arroyo Seco Junior High. Like so many other teachers at that time, I was a refugee from the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the most inept, horrible school districts in the U.S. I know there will be a few of you who can point to the sterling education you received from an LAUSD school and to some memorable teachers who had a great influence on you. Good for you. But believe me, LAUSD doesn’t care about their teachers at all.
My first week at Arroyo Seco made me think I had died and been reincarnated in junior high heaven. Clean classrooms, attentive students, supportive administrators, exactly the way a school should be. I even got a chance to meet the district superintendent, Clyde Smyth, who was a regular guy and so welcoming to me. Thirty years later I retired, never regretting a single day. During that 30-year period, I witnessed a district that embraced innovative change, dedicated teachers who gave 110% every day, and students who achieved at the highest testable levels. As a parent, my two sons had memorable experiences in William S. Hart Union High School District schools.
These past 18 months have been a challenge for teachers in every district throughout the state. I don’t need to list the hardships they and their students have had to overcome. Rest assured that Hart district teachers have worked overtime to remain the gold standard for the state.
I am writing this letter to urge Hart district parents to put pressure on the governing board to offer Hart district teachers, represented by HDTA, the Hart District Teachers Association, a reasonable contract, one that says, “We value your years of dedication and always going the extra mile for our kids.”
The district is offering HDTA a 1% raise for this year, which will be their first raise in three years. This is an insult, a slap in the face of the football coach who spends a good deal of his summer working with his team, the choir teacher who takes her singers to Carnegie Hall to perform, and the science teacher who spends weeks incorporating new STEM technology into her curriculum. Yes, Hart district teachers are receiving a one-time $2,500 bonus, but it won’t be on the salary schedule and teachers statewide are receiving that same bonus, paid for with the state’s hefty budget surplus.
I feel the board should offer HDTA a 5% raise with no decrease in health care overage. This would be a clear message that they truly value the teachers’ commitment to the students of the Hart district. All of those high test scores, athletic championships, service academy appointees and college-bound students don’t happen by chance.
Another group of people who should be putting pressure on the school board are the Realtors of the Santa Clarita Valley. Every time they sell a home for a premium price, they tell the buyer, “Your kids will be attending the award-winning Hart district schools.” Realtors, you have been selling homes on the backs of Hart district teachers for years. It’s time for you to step up.
No matter what the board says, they have the means to show the Hart district teachers that they value what they do year in and year out.
They deserve nothing less.