After almost two weeks the Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124 teachers strike ended in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 12.
It was a long two weeks for everyone. It was hard on the teachers, the school board, parents and most importantly, students.
It’s not an easy thing for a community to go through. Neighbors were divided against neighbors, with differing views on what is fair not only for the district but for the whole of Evergreen Park. It’s something that has the potential to create deep and continuing divides. Throughout the tense negotiations harsh words were bandied about on both sides.
Neither side ended up with everything, or probably much of what they wanted. That's the nature of a strike and labor negotiations. You hope to give as much as you get.
Parents were often left frustrated, shut out from the decisions that were not only affecting their child's education, but could very well be affecting the future of their community.
The simple fact is the strike is over.
Our wish is that the entire community gets a fresh start. A chance to take a step back from everything that was said, to breathe deeply and start over. Nobody benefits when a community is torn apart.
What we hope you take from this strike are a few lessons that can be used to inform the future of Evergreen Park. A mid-strike community meeting was attended by hundreds of residents. They showed up because they cared.
That willingness to show up and be heard should continue. We hope residents stay engaged, attend school board meetings, start paying attention to the village board and maybe even map out a few ways they can get active in their community.
We also hope that elected leaders recognize the importance of an informed public and continue to speak directly to their constituents in an open way.
A few months from now the strike will be a memory. We hope you can wrestle away a few seeds of positivity from this time and and use those as the start of something positive.
Let's not settle for a divided community, let's work to grow an even better one.