Good evening, my name is April Zawlocki, and I am an associate professor of Education here at College of DuPage. As faculty, we continue to hear about student success, but over the past few months, it has become clear to me that the administration and board of trustees do not have student success at the forefront of their minds in this negotiation, despite the constant use of the buzzword.
Over the years, students in my education classes have asked me why teachers don’t get involved in politics. I’ve never really had a good response to that question, other than to say that, in general, teachers thrive on relationships.
I’ve dedicated my entire professional life, 15 years, to working with students inside the classroom. Relationships are at the forefront of teachers’ minds each and every time we walk through the door. Just like all of my colleagues, relationships with my students, is what creates student success.
When I began to hear that negotiations were not going as well as we had hoped, I was interested, but believed that everyone was working together to settle the contract as soon as possible.
When my job was posted, however, my feelings about not getting involved in politics took an abrupt turn. I can honestly say that I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. The moment when the institution that I have served for the last 7 years, the institution that I love and promote near and far, the institution that I represent at conferences and meetings, the institution that I even want my own children to attend; when this institution made the conscious choice to post over 160 jobs to replace full-time faculty, should we go on strike, I realized that I could not stand by and watch the actions, which speak much louder than words, the actions tell me that I am not valued at the College of DuPage. THAT was the moment I got involved.
Since that moment, I have learned that the actions of CODFA bring people together. The actions of CODFA remind me how valued I am, how important I am to student success. I am so incredibly proud to be a member of CODFA. I now have the distinct displeasure of understanding first-hand how decisions of a few can have a lasting impact on many.
Years from now, when we look back at the contract negotiations of 2019, board members will be different and most likely the administrators will have moved on, but faculty will remain. We will remember. We will remember how we have been marginalized and how we have been treated, lied about, intentionally painted in a negative light. We won’t forget.
To my children, and to all children in this room, remember YOU have a voice and you can stand up for what is right. Do not let other people try to silence you or force you into unfair situations.
To the board, please let your actions speak louder than your words and prove to these future COD students that you truly do believe in student success.