"I am writing today with utmost urgency. Our Ogden colleagues have been given an ultimatum: sign a contract in which they had no input and that they do not understand, or their position will be open for hire.
"The Ogden Board of Education drafted an employee contract without any negotiations or input from teachers. The teachers recently received a letter that concluded with the statement: 'Please note that should we not receive your signed contract by 4:00 p.m. on July 20, 2011, we will declare your current position open for hire.'
"The Ogden Education Association entered into 2010-11 negotiations with their Board in good faith. They have been working without a contract for a year. OEA and the Board went to fact finding on the 2010-11 contract and the Ogden Board rejected the conclusion by the fact finder.
"The 2011-12 contract unilaterally proposed by the Ogden Board takes away basic rights, freezes steps and removes other previously negotiated items. There were no attempts to negotiate any of the contract terms and educators are being asked to sign a contract without full knowledge of its implications.
"Meanwhile, the Ogden Board of Education is continuing negotiations with classified employees and administrators. Why? Is OEA being targeted?
"OEA will be asking to return to the table in a spirit of collaboration to benefit the students of Ogden School District. Indeed, collaboration is essential to student success. We have seen successful collaboration at the USOE level, in Salt Lake District with the School Improve Grants, in Granite and Jordan with designing and implementing teacher evaluations, in Alpine with teacher performance pay and countless others.
"Setting a Precedent
"If you think this only affects Ogden teachers, think again. These actions are precedent setting. If we do not stand up and protest this attack on OEA, others across the state will be encouraged to do the same.
"The actions being taken by the Ogden Board of Education are exactly what those who would like to dismantle public education, in favor of private schools, are hoping will happen. If this precedent is set in Ogden, it will move across our state like a wildfire. To disenfranchise the teachers who are on the front lines every day in their classrooms will result in a mass exodus of educators from the profession. Ogden teachers serve some of the neediest students in Utah. It will be difficult, at best, to attract the best and brightest educators to a district where teachers are not valued as essential partners in education.
"We now need the help of parents, schools boards, superintendents, activists—anyone who supports our teachers and public schools—in an effort to collaborate and recognize our teachers need to be included if we want to make a positive difference for our children.
"Everyone who supports public education is encouraged to attend a rally on behalf of Ogden teachers:
Date: Thursday, July 14
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Ogden Liberty Park, 21st and Monroe Blvd., Ogden
"Participants are asked to wear red in support of public education.
"We Need Your Help
"Please get as many people as you can to attend! We need your support.
"We also need letters to the editor (Standard Examiner, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News) and to the Ogden Board of Education encouraging collaboration.
"Yes, I know its summer and this is asking a lot, but, if we do not stand together, as educators, parents, administrators and communities in supporting one another, we will become a private system designed for those who 'have' to the detriment of those who 'have not.'
"The Ogden School Board has a choice to make…they can intimidate and alienate teachers, or they can work with them. In the best interest of our students, we will continue to fight for the latter.
"Now is the time for us to stand strong for our students, our public schools and our profession!
"Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, M.A., NBCT
President, Utah Education Association"