FUSD Teacher Strike Could Impact FCC

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FUSD Teacher Strike Could Impact FCC

A vacant playground at Starr Elementary School on Oct. 22 may be a common sight should the FUSD teacher strike take place.

A vacant playground at Starr Elementary School on Oct. 22 may be a common sight should the FUSD teacher strike take place.

Photo by: Seth Casey

A vacant playground at Starr Elementary School on Oct. 22 may be a common sight should the FUSD teacher strike take place.

Photo by: Seth Casey

Photo by: Seth Casey

A vacant playground at Starr Elementary School on Oct. 22 may be a common sight should the FUSD teacher strike take place.

Story By: Seth Casey, Reporter

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Fresno City College students as well as many communities in Fresno may suffer hardship if the threatened Fresno Unified School District teacher’s strike proceeds.  

A majority of the approximately 4,300 members of the Fresno Teachers Association union voted during an Oct. 3 meeting to approve a strike in response to a negotiating stalemate between them and FUSD administrators.

The FTA has been negotiating with FUSD officials to obtain new contract terms after the previous contract between the union and the school district expired in July of 2016.

According to Hilary Levine, a fifth-grade teacher at Manchester GATE elementary school and former member of the FTA’s bargaining team, the main objectives the teacher’s union seeks to obtain in the new contract would decrease class sizes, and improve the teacher’s healthcare plans.

Levine says many of the union’s negotiating objectives have been achieved, and the FTA is taking this opportunity to call the district’s attention to additional suggestions, some of which have already been enacted.

“[The FTA’s bargaining team] has already made great strides,” Levine said. “The district has implemented several of the ideas already, like additional funding for special education, and hiring more nurses.”

Should the negotiators fail to come to terms and Fresno teachers go through with the strike, many substitutes will be commissioned to oversee classroom activity. While this may allow schools to resume classes, many school functions outside the classroom will be impacted, and in many cases suspended.

The absence of teachers with roles in extracurricular activities such as coaching sports or supervising before and after school programs, would result in the suspension of many programs that not only serve the students, but provide an extended period of childcare for parents.

The temporary suspension of extra-curricular programs could affect parents’ pick-up and drop-off schedules, as well as the students’ education experience.

Students at FCC may be forced to make a choice as well, should the strike take place.

According to Cheryl Goodson, a professor in FCC’s Education and Child Development department, students enrolled in FCC’s educational work experience program at Fresno Unified K-6 schools may have to decide whether or not they will participate in the strike should the time come.

“Our work experience students will have to make their own personal decision as to whether or not they are going to choose to continue during the strike,” said Goodson. “We as a department of Fresno City College’s social science division, we are not taking a stance to make them decide either way… I don’t think there’s a whole lot of pressure for non-tenured [FTA] members, and what would be our students if they decide to cross the picket line.”

Although the teacher’s previous vote did not achieve a majority decision, the possibility of strike is still a very real possibility. Following a process of fact-finding beginning Nov. 6, during which a state-appointed auditor will verify the teacher’s requests, the final decision will be at the discretion of the FTA’s executive board.

For many teachers in the FTA, the strike is not something they hope will come to pass. Should the teachers strike, they would do so without pay, sick leave, or even access to the school’s premises.

“I do not want to go on strike,” Levine said. “Nobody wants to strike, it is not good for anybody. Not just the teachers, but students parents and the community.”

 

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