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‘Unfortunate that it came to this,’ Brookline school teachers go on strike

By WBZ Staff

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    BROOKLINE (WBZ) — Brookline teachers went on strike Monday and schools were closed.

Teachers formed picket lines at all nine schools and at Town Hall after a weekend of negotiations with the school committee failed to produce a deal. A union representative said a mediation session is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“What we’ve said is please don’t come in there without something serious in writing, so we can be done and we can be back in school (Tuesday), which is what we want,” said Brookline Educators Union president Jessica Wender-Shubow.

A preliminary injunction was issued against the union on Friday in Norfolk County Superior Court that prohibits them from striking or threatening to strike.

“We asked the BEU not to strike and they refused. We again call on the BEU to cease and desist all strike activity so that we can focus our joint efforts on bargaining toward successful resolution. Brookline students must not be the victims of this situation any longer than they already have,” the school committee said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The union said the school committee did not provide proposals for key issues including guaranteed daily duty-free prep time, guaranteed time for weekly collaboration, and “substantive” action on attracting and retaining educators of color. They’ve been negotiating a new contract for three years, according to the union.

“We must have a humane schedule in the workday. We must have pay that allows educators to have families too and we must have a movement on supporting staff of color that’s more than lip service,” said Wender-Shubow.

The school committee said its contract offer included a 6% pay increase from 2020-2023 followed by an 8% raise from 2023-2026. The board also said it proposed a forum to address issues of “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

An announcement on any further school closings will be made by Tuesday at 6 a.m.

“I don’t want to be out of the classroom. I want to be in. I would love to be in school today, had a whole lesson plan that I didn’t get to teach.” English teacher Zac Brokenrope told WBZ-TV.

“It’s really unfortunate that it came to this. We feel like not only at the bargaining table have we shown good faith, we’ve put forth a lot of creative proposals to try to get to yes,” said guidance counselor Eric Schiff.

“As always, our primary concern is the impact on Brookline students and their caregivers,” the school committee said in its statement.

“We are seeing and hearing of children’s anxiety about this situation, magnified by memories of what they face during extended pandemic school closures. Our most vulnerable learners, including students in special education and those with disabilities, are disproportionately impacted by school closures; for some food-insecure students, school is where they receive their only meals. Caregivers are having to make emergency preparations for childcare. We are working to address all community concerns in real time as much as possible.”

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