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August 3, 2014

No upside to a teachers strike

It's that time of year again when kids start thinking about going back to school -- or not if their teachers go out on strike.

Highland teachers filed a notice of intent to do just that if they can't agree to a new contract with the school board. At this point it doesn't look good. The president of the Highland Education Association said the two sides are "very far apart."

It's to Highland's advantage for teachers and the administration to close that gap as quickly as possible and agree to terms. School will start eventually; no matter how far apart the two sides are today, a contract will be reached. All contentious, protracted negotiations do is ratchet up the "us versus them" mentality. It's no coincidence that Highland teachers picketed outside the school board meeting last week, complaining about bullying by administrators and a hostile work environment.

The longer negotiations drag on, the more bitter those exchanges will get. The ugliness leaves a lasting mark that can strain working relationships and even harm the quality of education.

Other metro-east school districts still negotiating contracts include Grant in Fairview Heights, High Mount in Swansea, Dupo, Marissa and Mascoutah. We urge teachers and the administration in those districts to also reach agreement as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth start to the school year. Meaningful discussion and true compromise will lead to resolution.

Until a contract is accepted by both the school board and teachers, there's always the potential for a strike and the disruptions that go with it.

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