While negotiators met inside the Desert Sands Unified headquarters on Monday, a small group of teachers gathered outside to protest a stalemate between the union and the district.
More than 200 teachers and supporters, each holding protest signs, lined the road outside the district office, said Mona Davidson, president of the Desert Sands Teachers Association. The union encouraged teachers to show their support outside the office after the school day was over, Davidson explained.
Here is what each protest sign said:
Despite the signs, the district that the negotiation stalemate has nothing to do with a lack of respect.
During a previous interview, Sherry Johnstone, assistant superintendent for personnel, said the district is struggling through some of “the most difficult economic times any of us have ever seen.” Education funding has dropped year after year, she said.
“DSTA has called into question DSUSD’s ‘priorities,” Johnston wrote in an e-mail. “To be clear, students are first always, with their safety and education at the very top of the list. DSUSD teachers are the best in the world! We hold them in high regard. We respect them, their professionalism and dedication to our children and families.”
The protest came on the same day that The Desert Sun published a front-page story about how the prolonged negotiations are impacting at least one local high school. In response to the stalemate, a majority of the teachers at Palm Desert High School have agreed to work to contract, which means to only perform the duties they are contractually obligated to do, and to boycott the school’s graduation. Teachers normally help supervise students during graduation.
The union negotiations have reached a stalemate due to a dispute over how much money the district will pay each teacher in response to the passage of Proposition 30, which California voters passed last year to stabilize education funding. Since the passage of the proposition, the district has offered to increase compensation by about $600 for each the 1,200 teachers in the union. The union wants that figure to increase to $1,000 per teacher.