Ryan Coggswell also contributed to this article

All screenshots taken from the Malden Education Association's Instagram page (@maldeneduassoc)

With contracts for teachers expiring, students, teachers, administration, and faculty are left searching for answers. Although the contracts expired on August 31st, negotiations and proposals are currently being held, but there is not a clear end in sight.

A flyer from the MEA explaining their cause alongside a QR code linking to a petition

On Wednesday, September 21st, the Malden Education Association (MEA) met with Malden’s school committee to discuss the overdue contracts. Despite the timeline, no proposals were agreed upon. The last offer of the school committee was a starting wage of $22,000 with a 3% raise per year for the lowest-paid workers. In return, public schools across Malden have been attempting “working to contracts” where teachers leave at exactly the end of their contractual day, and not any longer. At the same time, some teachers came in early to hand out flyers promoting their cause.

President of the MEA Deborah “Deb” Gesualdo pointed out the lack of equity for teachers’ wages: “Our goal is to, number one, win contract language that supports both the students and educators to create welcoming, safe, and equitable schools for everyone.” She noted that this applied to both students and teachers as well as Paraprofessionals, alias teachers’ aides. Paraprofessionals are currently the lowest-paid teachers: “They’re actually paid well below a living wage - they actually make poverty wages.” 

This issue is what brings forth their mission for the contracts. “Our goal is to try to move [Paraprofessionals] much closer to a living wage so that they only have to work one job, as opposed to many of them who work three jobs. Because no one should have to work three jobs to make ends meet,” explained Gesualdo.

“We here at the high school, and I think [students] have felt it, it’s been a really great opening to school,” Principal Christopher Mastrangelo noted.

“But we need to figure it out, we need to just pay our teachers what they deserve.”

He elaborated that there are stipulations and other factors: “I also know that we have to work inside a budget, but we have to figure this thing out because the longer these things fester the more resentment and negativity grow.”

PACE teacher and member of the MEA Representative Council Rebecca Griffith described herself as highly passionate about this issue. With five years of experience in her position, Griffith has not had experience with this issue before. “I have seen other schools experience challenges like this, but this is the first time I've experienced working under an expired contract.” 

“A living wage for education support professionals (paraprofessionals, licensed practical nurses, therapy assistants) is really important, as well as a commitment to smaller class sizes and fully staffed schools,” she asserted. “I'd say most educators feel disappointed and [are] anxious to settle a contract so that we can focus on our main priority--student learning. That is definitely how I feel as an individual.”

The Mayor has declined to comment on the situation, but noted that he is “confident that we will engage in constructive dialogue so that we can make progress and move forward.”

Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy has also declined to comment on the issue at hand.

Despite the efforts of the MEA, this is still an active issue. Upcoming events include a rally at 4pm on 10/15, and a strike on 10/17. More information will be published as it is provided.

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