Provided by Newton School Committee

The following talking points are provided as guidance to families looking for support in answering children’s questions and talking about the strike. Consider what you know about your child, their age, and level of understanding to guide your conversation. Not every piece of information will be necessary or relevant to address your child’s questions. 

In addition to the talking points below, you may find the article below helpful. 

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/how-to-explain-the-seattle-teacher-strike-to-your-child/

General guidance for talking with children about unexpected or 

disruptive life events: 

  • Provide simple, factual information about the circumstances geared to your child’s age and level of understanding. Dispel rumors and provide clarification when you are able.
  • Answer your child’s questions truthfully in a way that they can understand. Say “I don’t know” when you do not know the answers.
  • Explain changes in your child’s routines and environment, talk about the changes, what you are doing to create routines and structures, and update them as needed
  • Give your child opportunities to ask questions and talk about their feelings. Validate their reactions; people can feel lots of different ways when their are changes or disruptions in their regular life routines
    •  Label and validate their feelings by reflecting back the words you hear and emotions you see from them. For example, “I see that you’re sad and disappointed about school being closed. It’s hard when we cannot do things we want to do, like see our friends.” Helping them feel understood and accepted is powerful and will encourage them to share their feelings more in the future. After validating their feelings, focus their attention on what is in their control and positive aspects of the situation.
      • We can’t go to school, but we can _____
      • We can’t do _____ , but we can do _____
    • Inspire ways of handling disappointment by modeling and encouraging your child to use their own coping skills. Don’t feel like you have to make them happy or fix a situation that is outside your control, but after validating their feelings, you can gently encourage ways to help them cope: “It’s hard to feel sad. Sometimes when daddy feels sad, I like to do something that I think is fun, like draw a picture or play a game.” 
  • Reassure your child that these circumstances are temporary. 

Understanding the Strike

What is a strike? 

A strike happens when workers, such as teachers, choose to stop working for a period of time to call attention to concerns or negotiate for improvements at their workplace. It’s a way for them to advocate for issues they believe need attention and to engage in discussions with their employers about how to make changes they want regarding their pay or their working conditions.  

When people strike, it is because there is a disagreement between the workers and the employer about what changes can or should be made in things like how much people are paid or other things related to their job.  

Why did the teachers/educators go on strike?

The teachers have been working together as a team (this is what you might hear people say is “the union” or “The NTA”) to negotiate their contract with the School Committee, who is the employer.

A contract is an official agreement that provides the details about teachers’ jobs– things like how much they will be paid, their work hours, and their responsibilities. When teachers negotiate their contract, they advocate for salary and conditions that they think are fair and will help them to do their job supporting their students.

The School Committee is a team of people who are elected by the citizens of Newton to make important decisions about the school district including budgeting, policies, and overseeing the overall operation of schools to make sure that students are getting what they need.  When they negotiate with the union about their contract, they also advocate for what they think is fair and right for the schools, teachers, and students. 

The School Committee and the teachers union both want schools to be safe, supportive, and happy places for kids to learn, but they have different ideas about what should be in the contract and how we should spend our school budget. 

When can we go back to school? When will the strike end?

The teachers and the School Committee are going to be meeting a lot to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.  Everyone is looking forward to having students back in school and getting back to our regular routines.