Urgent Information about Keeping Lee at Steller

by Rebecca Johnson on June 8th, 2012
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OCCUPY ASD” PROTEST: “35 HOURS FOR 35 TEACHERS”;   A Message from Concerned Steller Students and Parents


A group of Steller parents were able to gather on short notice today to strategize about how best to retain Lee Weiland as our art teacher.  Because of all the complications of the AEA contracts and the re-shuffling that has already occurred, it appears that the only possible way that Lee could remain in his position as art teacher at Steller would be for all of the 35 displaced ASD teachers to be rehired and the positions that were cut to be re-instated.  The Steller community strongly believes that these cuts and re-shuffling are detrimental to the education of all of the students in the schools that are being affected and we are willing to advocate for all of those students, teachers and their communities.  We are asking the ASD board to dip into their emergency funds in order to re-instate displaced teachers.


As a way to draw attention to this issue from the wider community, we are planning an OCCUPY ASD: 35 HOURS FOR 35 TEACHERS event.  We will occupy the area around the flag pole on the Park Strip from 6AM on Sunday morning until 5 pm on Monday evening, just prior to the ASD Board Meeting.  There will be food, art and art making, supplies to make posters, and lots of great Steller folks.  It would be great for people outside of Steller to join us as well since this is a district wide issue.


Whether you consider yourself an art family or not, we need you to join us!  This is a great opportunity for our students to effect change in their school and in the community.  Teach them that we can make a difference!


Here’s what you can do:


(1)  There is a planning meeting Saturday at 4:30 pm at Amy Holonics house, 4721 New Castle Way.  Email her at billamy@gci.net for any questions.  We will be hashing out logistical issues.  Please come if you are able!

(2)  Plan to join us for some or all of our 35 hour occupation.  We especially want our students to be there.  And bring your friends!

(3)  Support our effort with food, water, drinks, tables or chairs.  Email Rebecca Johnson @ beckinak@gmail.com if you have something you can offer.

(4)  Sign up to speak at the school board meeting.  Encourage your students to sign up.  Their testimony is very effective and impressive.  Please do it SOON.  You need to be heard.   We will send out talking points soon.  Sign up at http://www.asdk12.org/school_board/signup.asp

(5)  Email the school board members.  Addresses are at the same site as above.  Ask that emergency funds be used to re-instate all displaced teachers and lost positions.  Let them know that you will be willing to lobby our state legislature and Governor to increase education funding next year.


Here is a press release that Andromeda Romano-Lax has released to the local press:


Anchorage – A group of students, parents, and concerned community members will be occupying the Park Strip flagpole area beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday to bring attention to the recent school district cuts of 35 positions (and additional support staff), which will be a subject of public discussion at an Anchorage School District Board meeting on Monday night at 6 p.m. During the protest, art will be created and on display; the public is welcome to participate.


The group’s message is that a state with our fiscal resources has the capacity to restore the 35 cut positions, which include counselors as well as art, foreign language, and English as a second language teachers. Following that one-time emergency restoration of positions, parents aim to spend the next year raising awareness of the need for greater long-term funding of teacher positions, with an emphasis on stability and prioritizing student needs.


Steller students and parents packed the most recent Anchorage School District Board meeting (May 21, see May 22 ADN coverage by M. Boots), outnumbering testifying individuals from other schools, and specifically calling attention to the loss of a treasured first-year art teacher, Lee Weiland, who brought not only a long-term arts vision to Steller, but also doubled and tripled as a physical education teacher and acrobatic club leader, as well as a champion of self-directed learning, one of Steller’s hallmarks.


But Steller activists feel it is essential to send a larger message that goes beyond one school and recognizes the plight of parents and students who haven’t yet testified or even been made fully aware of the issue. Cuts and involuntary transfers have affected many schools and furthered the problem of turnover that undermines the ability of each school to serve the needs of its students.


“Restore 35” and “35 hours for 35 teachers” are two key slogans for this event, which aims to recognize the plight of every person cut. Another slogan is “the right people for the right places,” emphasizing the fact that current cuts are leading to a haphazard process of assigning teachers to schools where they might not be the best fit—especially disappointing in cases where schools were having success with the teachers that were already in place.


Categories: Parent Group

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