Clause for GHS teachers must go – now

While we’re glad that some progress is being made in the
seemingly interminable contract negotiations between the Gilroy
Unified School District and its teachers’ union, we are alarmed
about one apparent decision: to delay until at least next year
negotiating to remove the highly unusual

creative freedom

clause in the current high school contract.
While we’re glad that some progress is being made in the seemingly interminable contract negotiations between the Gilroy Unified School District and its teachers’ union, we are alarmed about one apparent decision: to delay until at least next year negotiating to remove the highly unusual “creative freedom” clause in the current high school contract.

Attorneys for the school district said this unconventional clause is a main reason why the district can’t keep teachers from participating in political events like the Day of Silence during scarce classroom time. During this year’s Day of Silence observance, several Gilroy High School teachers chose not to speak for an entire day, including during instructional time, to show their support for ending discrimination against homosexual students.

Are trustees and administrators listening to the community?

We don’t know if the community could have been clearer in its outrage about teachers choosing to not use all of their faculties to teach, regardless of the cause the protest supported.

This issue must not be put on the backburner in the hope that community members will have a short memory and it will “fade away.” There will be another Day of Silence next spring, and who knows how many other good causes clamoring for precious class time in between. For the good of our students, this clause must be removed from the contract currently being negotiated.

School board members clearly expressed themselves on the Day of Silence issue. They should direct, without reservation, Superintendent Edwin Diaz to make removal of that clause a top priority. Let’s not beat around the bush.

GUSD loves to review other districts for evidence of best practices. No other high school of which we’re aware has this clause – clearly, it’s not considered best practice to have “creative freedom” clauses in high schools. Gilroy High School is not a university. GHS is a high school attempting to prepare students for attending such an institution, and a look at standardized test results reveal it’s not doing such a good job of that. Clearly, Gilroy High School cannot afford to waste any classroom time on political protests.

This is a simple equation: The “creative freedom” clause for the high school teachers must be dropped from the teacher contract or there should not be a new deal in place. If a limited faction of high school teachers want to hold up pay and/or benefit increases for the rest of the dedicated GUSD teachers to preserve the ability not to speak in the classroom, so be it. It’s the union’s choice to fall on its sword over this. Trustees must be willing to stand firm.

If trustees fail to have the “creative freedom” clause removed from the contract currently being negotiated, the community will have to live through another Day of Silence uproar, and who knows what other “political protests” might emerge at the high school.

If trustees opt to go quietly into the night and worry about this later, what becomes clear is that

in the next election the first – and perhaps only – criteria for

voters should be this: Do you have the courage to stand by your

convictions?

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