I hear from the Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, on a regular basis. He's actually often an excellent source of information in a district that is generally considered to be a rather closed institution. But I didn't hear a word from him regarding the ongoing breakfast dispute until I called him Monday.
Granted, all this started before I took the city education beat. This arbitration, which picks up again later this month, puts the union in the position of fighting against classroom breakfasts for children because they create too much of a mess for teachers.
Given how many poor and hungry kids attend schools in the district, this union grievance is obviously not going to help the teacher's union polish its image in the court of public opinion. Rumore said the union supports breakfast for all children but wants the breakfasts to be provided in a way that doesn't create additional burdens for teachers.
The thing is, not every teacher considers it a burden. In fact, here's a link to a video developed by the American Dairy Council that features enthusiastic Buffalo public school teachers heartily endorsing the concept and talking about how it INCREASES instructional time!
Solutions suggested by Rumore, like starting the school day earlier so that all kids can get breakfast in the cafeteria or hiring many more teachers aides to assist with cleanup will be resisted by the district, which will consider this a costly and unnecessary solution.
Parents, of course, want to see this dispute come to an end. From their point of view, if the breakfast-in-the-classroom program is providing 6,000 more breakfasts to young children in Buffalo, then the teacher's union should be happy to embrace an effort that helps more kids be successful in school.
Here's a link to a flier they're distributing and plan to highlight as part of their community event Wednesday to pressure the BTF to give up its grievance.