Property Grunt

Thursday, May 13, 2010


They are definitely putting the heat on teacher. But not in a good way.

Teaching is probably one of the most undervalued professions in this country. Which is ironic since teachers develop what is perhaps our most valuable resource: Our children.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not an easy job. It appears that teachers work from 9am-3Pm and get summers off. But it is more like teachers work from 7am to 6pm because they need to prepare their day before classes start and they need to deal with other business after the school day is over. And even though they are paid during the summer, a lot of teachers pick up extra work to supplement their salary because they are not being paid in Wall Street bonuses. I know of one teacher who worked as a truck driver during the summer. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the rigors of dealing with children.

Which leads me to this unsurprising trend of teachers taking pay cuts due to the current economic climate.

In New York’s Suburbs, Teachers Feel Budget Ax

Here are some key takeaways.

School superintendents and board members say they have been caught in the middle, left with no choice but to reduce teacher payrolls — either through salary concessions or layoffs — to offset sharp revenue drops from state aid cuts, declining property values and resistance to higher taxes. “At a certain point, there’s nowhere else to go” to achieve savings, said Michael V. McGill, the superintendent in Scarsdale, whose 460 teachers are among the best paid in the nation, earning $54,442 to $135,000. Faced with the prospect of 20 layoffs, a majority of Scarsdale’s teachers voted to reopen their contract to shave one percentage point off an expected raise of 3.25 percent in each of the next two years. That would save $1.9 million.

I want to clarify something, if the teachers did not agree to these conditions, the board of education would have no choice but to break out the machetes and hack away at anything in their path. Why? Scarsdale is a UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT. In other words the teachers have no leverage in this situation. Therefore there was never a “prospect of layoffs.” It would have been inevitable.

So why would any teacher want to consider working in Scarsdale?

“At a certain point, there’s nowhere else to go” to achieve savings, said Michael V. McGill, the superintendent in Scarsdale, whose 460 teachers are among the best paid in the nation, earning $54,442 to $135,000.


Obviously teachers are not happy with this and have been standing their ground. And they have pissed off a lot of people.

But Robert J. Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, noted “a lot of concern, and a lot of anger” over teachers’ unions that have steadfastly refused to make concessions even as practically every other school group has.

In Waterford, Conn., the teachers’ union rejected a proposal to replace two professional-development days with unpaid furloughs next year but reversed itself after the district agreed to provide some training at other times, said Randy Collins, the superintendent. In Pelham, N.Y., where schools are the center of town life, some residents began speaking up at school board meetings last year to ask why teachers were not doing more to help.

This quote just, well, just read it.

“I have never heard such accusations against teachers,” said Frank Orfei, a social studies teacher for 32 years. “Many teachers feel like we’ve been made scapegoats of an economic crisis that we didn’t have anything to do with.”

Gee. You just figured that out just now? Whether we like it or not we are all bailing water on a sinking ship. And anyone not towing the line is dragging us down.

It sucks, but it is what it is.

Of course to add more fuel the fire for New York State teachers is this new development.

Agreement Will Alter Teacher Evaluations

The agreement, reached in time for the state’s second bid at $700 million in federal education grants, would scrap the current system whereby teachers were rated simply satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Instead, annual evaluations would place teachers in one of four categories — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective. While the deal would not have any immediate effect on teacher pay, it could make it easier for schools to fire teachers deemed subpar.

“We believe that if done correctly this will change the landscape dramatically,” said David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner. “This is not a gotcha system. This is about creating professional development that can really improve education.”

Teachers would be measured on a 100-point scale, with 20 percent points based on how much students improve on the standardized state exams. Another 20 percent would be based on local tests, which would have to be developed by each school system. After two years, 25 percent would be based on the state exams and 15 percent would come from the local tests.

Scarsdale teachers earn their pay and then some. After all they were pretty much forced to cobble together a curriculum that that could compete with the APs.
Unfortunately just like any other school district, it has its share of people who have no business being teachers. However these developments make a non-union school district a very, very unattractive place work in.

Think about it. If you are a jerk off teacher who is more interested in spending time with a select few and marginalizing those that you feel that are not worth your effort or enjoy tormenting students, you are not going to last to long in Scarsdale.

Complaints are going to be made and you are going to be ordered to actually do your job. And nothing is more dangerous to a teacher than parents with money. You are better off working in a district that has a union because you will have a more secure position in dealing with the headaches.

Now this is a possible a win-win for the unions because if there is an exodus of teachers who feel that the high salaries of the union free school district are not worth it, they are going have their pick of the best and brightest. Or whoever has the best connections.

Now if you are a teacher who actually loves what they are doing and is willing to give their all especially to the runts of the litter. You have nothing to worry about.

This is further evidence that no one is safe. Security is an illusion and everyone needs to make every effort to ensure their survival.