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View Diary: A political issue -- teacher pay (255 comments)

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  •  You know what's really happening here? (4.00)
    The real problem is that our society's priorities are messed up.  Job security and mutual respect between employer/employee is a thing of the past.  The bottom 95% is so stressed out that we are always looking over our shoulder and snapping at people who don't "feel our pain".  We need a real resurgence of the labor movement in this country, and an honest discussion about national priorities.  It is not that teachers are not paid enough per se, it is that their work is taxed more than an idle millionaire's wealth.  That is dead wrong.
    The insipid ranting going on in this thread is exactly what the ruling elite have orchestrated.  We can no longer see the forest from the trees.  We'd ALL enjoy our jobs more if health care was a right and work was valued more than wealth.  Such a system could easily be created; hell, look at what we've spent on Iraq in a blink of an eye.  Instead of fighting for table scraps (my job sucks more, no MY job sucks more!), we need to focus on reforming the system.
    •  Good point (none)
      I see this more and more. The LTE's in my area always cite how well teachers are paid "when everyone else is out of work."
      •  Know that attitude (none)

        I see it a lot in Oregon (my home state), which if anything has more anti-tax whining than New Hampshire.  

        That "why should any government employee live better than any citizen" argument is especially pernicious.

        I recall during the early 1990s recession, a LTE in Portland where a woman said that since she couldn't afford to keep her house heated, it really burned her that her tax dollars were keeping City Hall nice and comfy in the winter.  Why shouldn't city employees have to wear sweaters and hats at work?  What made them so special that they deserved heat?

        A kook obviously -- should they bring they own piss buckets too, so as not to use taxpayer funded toilets? -- but a kook with lots of company.

        •  Ah, yes (4.00)
          I had to stand in line at the courthouse the other day with a typical outraged-beyond-belief pro se litigant who couldn't stop mouthing off about how slow the line was, and how bad the service, and how mad he was that he had to pay taxes to pay these know-nothing clerks.

          I let him know that this was in fact his tax cut at work, and pointed out the four closed windows.  Our last round of budget cuts caused the court to downsize the most experienced court clerks without even enough notice to enable them to train their replacements.  Those two sleepy-eyed blondes he was sneering at were high school graduates doing the work of six college grads, and learning the job as they went along.  

          I didn't mention that maybe if he didn't insult them within earshot, they might not lose his paperwork that time.  There's only just so much lagniappe I'm going to give someone who so clearly loathes the idea of something for nothing.

          "Hit a man with a fish, and he'll have a headache for a day. Teach him to hit himself with a fish, and he'll have headaches all his life!"--Karl Rove

          by AdmiralNaismith on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 11:11:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  ding! (none)
      Probably the best comment of the "sub-thread."
    •  Exactly (none)
      Quite frankly, most of us are getting screwed....and there are those amongst the powers that be that are probably laughing their asses off at all of us....we're doing their work for them.  They are not having to lift a finger. Its all about divide and conquer.

      I'm still enough of a socialist that I value all work.  I don't think we should designate a special class of professions or occupations that are more deserving of special treatment.  The sad fact is that most of us in the "middle classes" are living paycheck to paycheck and worried a good part of the time about our financial security.  As long as this is the case I don't feel like we should be making too much of fuss about who has it worse...we've all got it bad.

      I happen to think that alot of teachers are getting a bad deal...but there are so many variables that we just can't make blanket statements.  I do know that a couple of years ago I was very perturbed at our local teachers union for refusing to accept a change in their healthcare plan at the same time that the district was basically going bankrupt and having to ask the voters for more money again.  Considering that these teachers pay not one dime towards their insurance coverage and that their average salary is more than twice that of the community they serve I thought that this did not look good for them....hell yes, I agree that teachers deserve good healthcare, I just think its a loosing battle  when you are asking people to pay for it that don't have anything nearly as good themselves.  To do so implies that you are in support of creating a priviledged class of citizens.

      •  The feel they are privileged (none)
        A sign at a local Anti-Arnold rally in Sacramento:

        "Teachers aren't special interests, They're special"

        We have finite resources and every group feels they are entitled to more.  Oakland Unified gave a 24% pay raise over three years to their teachers and bankrupted the district to the point where the state has had to come in and take over the operations.  Now schools have to be merged and others closed and the community is up in arms.  Despite being in this hole, the teachers are set to go on strike, not willing to negotiate a single concession.  So much for shared community and being in this together.

        •  wrong. (none)
          You don't know what you're talking about.

          Yes, Chaconas raised Oakland Unified teacher salaries before he was ousted as Superintendent and the state took over. But teacher salaries were only part of what sent the district into the hole: janitorial contract shenanigans and outright incompetence in the Administration's accounting staff were about as responsible. Schools are being merged not primarily due to the budget, but also due to declining enrollments and low test scores - themselves largely traceable to the stupid restrictions of No Child Left Behind.

          Lastly, the teachers are not "set to go on strike." The teachers voted down a strike two months ago.

          My wife teaches at Oakland Unified in a flatlands school in an extremely poor neighborhood. She voted against a strike. She spends in excess of 14 hours a day weeekdays, and six or seven hours a day on weekends, trying to educate kids whose parents have flat out given up on their kids' education. I don't expect that she and her colleagues will always be treated with respect by the Oakland community she serves: ten years have shown us that's not going to happen.

          But she and her colleagues deserve bertter than to be trashed on the basis of flat out goddamn lies.  

          •  You're either co-opted by the union or can't read (none)
            Declining enrollments lead to less ADA money meaning schools have to be merged due to less money in the budget.  The staff was incompetent, spending $3 million a year on cell phones for any staff that asked for them.  When Dr. Ward cancelled all of them, who do you think bitched the loudest?  The teachers.  Who is refusing to do professional development to learn new technology?  The teachers.  Who were among the phantom employees on the payrolls?  Former teachers.  Who are calling Jack O'Connell a Plantation Owner and Dr. Ward the House Nigger?  The teachers.  Give me a fucking break, blaming this on janitors and accounting staff.  They all share the blame.

            The people of Oakland don't deserve what's happening to their kids, but they carry much of the responsibility.  They elected the school board, who hired Chaconas.  The board approved the
            contracts and budgets.

            And if you think Ben Visnick isn't going to let his merry band of educators walk out on the kids, again, then you're the one spreading flat out gaddamn lies:

            From the Oakland Tribune - 6/9/05

            Talk of strike at city schools is heating up
            Disputes over hours, salaries spur service workers to plan a vote to consider job action
            By Alex Katz, STAFF WRITER

            OAKLAND -- City school custodians and cafeteria workers will vote Saturday on whether to authorize a strike, a move that could be followed by teachers and other school employees, union leaders said Wednesday.

            A vote to strike -- the first of its kind by custodians and cafeteria workers in about two decades -- would not mean a strike is imminent, union officials said. An actual strike would take another vote, and by most accounts a strike is unlikely before the start of the next school year.

            But leaders of the unions representing teachers and custodians say their members are unhappy with contract proposals from the district that would curb teacher benefits, cut custodians' salaries and limit the hours of part-time cafeteria workers.

            "I'm hoping that we don't have to (strike), but that depends on the district," said Morris Tatum, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents custodians, food service workers and other district employees.

            Threats of a strike are nothing new during contract negotiations, but these threats have become more explicit in recent months.

            On Wednesday, the heads of other school unions said they would back a custodian strike. The actual decision to strike would have to be made by employees.

            "If the custodians are out, the schools are unsafe, and it would be very difficult for me to send our members to work underthose circumstances," Oakland teachers union President Ben Visnick said.

            Earlier this week, Visnick said unions would have to strike together to "accelerate the struggle, so there's no way the schools can be opened" in the fall.

            But "we're not there yet," Visnick said.

            Oakland schools State Administrator Randolph Ward could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

            Officials have said the in-debt district cannot afford to give raises and must keep cutting expenses as enrollment continues to decline.

            Ward was appointed to run the Oakland schools in 2003, when the state took over the district for financial failures caused by years of unchecked overspending.

            The district still has to pay back its $65 million bailout from the state. Even with the loan, the district expects to end the fiscal year more than $5 million in the red, officials said this week.

            Visnick and other union leaders propose borrowing more money from the state to give raises. That proposal is far from realistic, say state and local officials.

            "Paying for salaries with more borrowing is the exact opposite of what any state administrator is supposed to be doing," said Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for state Superintendent Jack O'Connell, Ward's boss in Sacramento. "It's like putting your raise on a credit card, which is how the district got in trouble in the first place."

            Unions also say local corporations and the Port of Oakland should contribute more to the district -- specifically to district employees. Large corporations should be paying more taxes in general to fund schools, union leaders say.

            Representatives from Clorox, World Savings and Shorenstein Realty, the three local companies singled out by the union as potential donors, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

            Port spokesman Harold Jones said state law prevents the agency from spending money on anything outside the port itself and waterfront, or the area legally known as the Tidelands Trust. However, the port has been a sponsor of the local symphony, ballet and museum, Jones said.

            "There is a social responsibility to be a good corporate citizen," he said.

            Visnick also has suggested paying for raises with the Measure E parcel tax, now earmarked for class-size reduction, security guards, arts education and other programs.

            In 1996, during a previous term as union president, Visnick led the longest teacher strike in Oakland history. The 26-day strike was extremely divisive, and a number of teachers crossed picket lines to go back to work before it was over.

            In the end, teachers got a bump in salary but at the same time lost a month of pay. Visnick said he personally lost about $7,000.

            •  You'e evidence that the schools are failing (none)
              Co-opted by the union? good one. I think the union is next to useless, a bunch of people more interested in Free Mumia proclamations than in actual working conditions.

              The staff was incompetent, spending $3 million a year on cell phones for any staff that asked for them.  When Dr. Ward cancelled all of them, who do you think bitched the loudest?  The teachers.

              Bullshit. Not one of the teachers in my wife's school had a district-funded cell phone.

              Who is refusing to do professional development to learn new technology?  The teachers.

              Also completely untrue in my wife's school. You got a citation for that?

              Who were among the phantom employees on the payrolls?  Former teachers.  

              Also completely untrue in my wife's school. You got a citation to back that one up too?

              Who are calling Jack O'Connell a Plantation Owner and Dr. Ward the House Nigger?  The teachers.

              Just one little citation is all I ask. One little piece of evidence.

              Give me a fucking break, blaming this on janitors and accounting staff.

              In the last five years at my wife's school, three of the custodial staff complained to her that they had to work extra time to cover for janitorial employees who were double-dipping - billing the district for being at two schools at the same time - and not actually showing up at either job.

              Ask any Oakland teacher about dealing with Admin. Ask them if they know someone who's been screwed over by payroll. Ask if they know stories about misappropriated funds, materials that were supposed to be made available in classrooms but which are sitting in an Oakland Unified warehouse somewhere.

              The important thing is that you haven't acknowledged that the teachers voted against going on strike. And the articles you quote back up my position, not yours.

              Maybe you should work on your reading comprehension. No wonder you resent teachers. They obviously failed you.

        •  part of the problem (none)
          when you get into large districts is that they really aren't a part of the community they are serving.  In my city, a huge portion of the teachers do not live within the therefore, their children (or property values) are not effected by the cutting of services.  This does create resentment that isn't always totaly fair but is understandable.  

          For years, I worked with groups that place great emphasis on community and parental involvement within education.  I hate to say it, but teachers were often downright hostile to the real communities' claim to any kind of input into that communities public schools at all...and the bottom line was always "but we are all saints who have taken a vow of poverty"...and while I am a strong supporter of unions and believe that every teacher should be part of a collective bargaining unit, I have yet to see the teachers union here coming to the defense of other unions in the city while they expect everyone to honor every provision they expect in their contracts and will claim every provision is necessary if we "value education".  Yes, I believe, that by and large, most teachers do want what is best for their pupils...but sometimes, there is disagreement about whether or not what is best for teachers is best for the pupils or the communities these pupils live in.  To raise these questions is not being anti-teacher.

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