After taking a few days to collect my thoughts and review the aftermath of the Sick Out, I have come to a few conclusions.
First off - where did it go wrong? The answer was so simple that it eluded me for a few days. I asked too much too soon. People were afraid, and I knew it, but I asked them to confront their fears before they were truly ready. As WFAA reported, many people told them that they came in because they were simply afraid not to. As a result of this fear, the number of teachers who missed work on Wednesday was lower than any normal day, and the district quickly spun that statistic as a victory. Fear is stronger than words.
The district was also afraid. They were scrambling on Monday and Tuesday to develop a plan in case the Sick Out was successful. They recognized that teachers are unhappy and there was a part of them that worried that this would be the day that the teachers stood up and declared their frustrations. However, they kept silent and hid their fear, while I called our fear out into the open.
Sometimes aiming high is what you want to do, but in this case it was not. I shot for the top of the mountain when I should have climbed it one meter at a time. In the end, I have set us back, and now the trustees will feel emboldened by Leap Day's events. Yes, we have been knocked down, but I do not believe the bout is done quite yet.
Fear was not the only reason people showed up for work. There are those who disapproved of the sick-out movement as a whole. While some did not approve of my methods, I sincerely doubt there is a large number of our districts teachers that disagree that the trustees and the district have been bullying its teachers for far too long. I put those people in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation; either they called in and supported a protest that they disliked, or went in on Leap Day and became a pawn in the districts spin on the Sick Out. To those people, I apologize.
I have learned quite a bit from the events of the 29th. I have had my chance to regroup and now I feel it is time to move forward. The following are some of the changes that I am making-
1.) During the course of this week, I will create a forum to accompany this website. The DISD Teachers for Change Forum will be an environment for conversations about the improvement of the conditions for both students and teachers in Dallas ISD. This will hopefully bring more people into the conversation. Perhaps one of the victories that can be claimed by the Sick Out was that the news stories brought our situation to people's collective attention, and I hope the forum will capitalize on that. Once it is complete, I will post a link both here and on Facebook.
2.) Future actions will be brought up in the forum for open discussion. If we are to have any success in the future, teachers as a whole need to be more organized. Moving towards organization will limit our options on what can be done, but it will improve our chances of success.
3.) No more Union bashing (at least, not from me.) I have some disagreements with the Union, but in the end our goals are the same. I hope that, now that the Sick Out is past us, the Union could be an ally in the fight to improve Dallas ISD.
4.) The development of a plan of action. Previously, my plans had no steps beyond the 29th, so that set back left me a little dazed. I will be asking for input on the development of a plan that will help move us forward in the future.