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Democratic Challengers for Columbus Board of Education: We Stand With Our Teachers

Madeline Stocker Madeline Stocker Democratic Challengers for Columbus Board of Education: We Stand With Our TeachersPhotos via Facebook.
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After members of the Columbus Education Association unanimously voted no confidence in the current Columbus City School Board members, progressive Democratic challengers for Columbus Board of Education Abby Vaile, Amy Harkins and Erin Upchurch voiced their solidarity with the teachers union.

“We stand with our teachers and we support them,” said Vaile, a former union representative with the CEA and educator in Columbus City Schools. “They want to do what’s best for our students, but the School Board is forcing them to sacrifice their pay and working conditions.”

“It’s an injustice to our teachers and our schools,” said Vaile. “We have to lift up our educators when they tell us their needs, not shut them down.”

The Columbus School Board routinely cites budget shortfalls as reason for underpaying teachers and support staff, yet just last week the Board gave $18 million in tax breaks to a development project led by the Pizzuti Companies, over $12 million of which would have gone to Columbus City Schools. This year alone, the Pizzuti PAC has given over $17,000 to Columbus politicians.

“There is money and there always has been money,” Harkins said. “When the Board gives millions away to ultra-wealthy developers and won’t agree to pay their teachers, it’s our children, our families and our communities that suffer.”

In today’s Columbus Dispatch, CEA President Tracey Johnson said members felt “disrespected by the board with their offer.” She said that more and more teachers might have to “work to the rule” and refuse to do any additional work than written in their contract.

“We have powerful educators committed to doing what it takes to make sure our children succeed,” Upchurch said. “We must support our teachers in fulfilling our district’s mission to ensure that each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community.”

There are three seats on the seven-member board up for re-election this November. Vaile, Harkins and Upchurch are independent Democrats challenging current members Dominic Paretti, Ramona Reyes and Michael Cole.

For more information, visit yeswecancolumbus.org.

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