Pequot Lakes teachers rally after 338 of working without a contract
Crowd chants, “Contract… now! Contract… now!”
Pequot Lakes’ teachers rallied this evening after working 338 days without a contract. The teachers say the school district’s one of the best in Minnesota with some of the highest test scores and most educated teachers. The teachers’ union says getting this deal done will benefit the students.
Denise Specht, Education Minnesota president, says, “What’s good in this contract is going to be what’s good for kids. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions and that’s what this is all about. Letting them know we care and stand with them.”
Both U.S Congressman Rick Nolan (D) and Minnisota Representative John Ward (DFL) both former teachers, supported the teachers saying in order for our areas’ students to be the best we need the best teachers. And investing in teachers benefits the community’s future.
Congressman Nolan says, “It is indeed the foundation of our future. And the way you get the best education is with good teachers.”
Specht says, “A contract represents respect in their profession. And these teachers in Pequot Lakes are enhancing and investing value into this community and it’s high time the community invests back into the teachers.”
Some of the teachers say it’s comforting to have a rally and to get the support from their fellow educators after working without a contract for 338 days.
Michael Sommerness, Pequot Lakes 6th-12th grade band teachers, says, “It gets a little draining waiting to see you’re valued. And when we come together and we pat each other on the back and pick each other up a little bit it helps out. It helps out when we don’t see that from our school board and we need it.”
The teachers’ union presidents are afraid that if these contract negotiations last too much longer and they can’t get the teachers what they say they deserve the better educators will start to look to teach elsewhere.
Sommerness, last year’s Teacher of the Year in Pequot Lakes, says, “I hate to say it and it breaks my heart to say it. Because this is where I want to be and these are the students I care about. But yeah I’ve looked.”
The teachers know Minnesota will increase the districts funding the next two years. And they’re ready to negotiate for what they think is fair.
Kim Johnson, Education Minnesota’s Pequot Lakes president, says, “We are ready to meet with the school board at any time at any place. We want to negotiate. we want to settle this contract.”