June 2008 Your Turn

How does that Beatles’ song go? “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better.” That’s the way 44 percent of you feel about your relationship with your teacher unions.

Forty-one percent said things are about the same (although we neglected to ask you what, exactly, “the same” means. Our bad.) Seven percent said it’s gotten worse, and another 7 percent answered “None of the above.”

Getting so much better? Yes, all the time, said Illinois board member Julia Kennedy Beckman.

“Six years ago, our district suffered its first ever strike,” she said. “The relationship with the union couldn’t have been worse. But, after it was settled, all sides -- board, administration, and teachers -- committed to healing the breach. We contracted with a group that specialized in bringing groups together. Over the course of a year we met often -- sometimes for long sessions on a Saturday and sometimes in shorter evening meetings. We confronted the issues and each other, sometimes very painfully, and ultimately grew beyond those issues and began to understand each other and work together.”

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