Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Every self-respecting New Yorker knows that’s when you murder your parents and plead mercy because you’re an orphan.  However, setting yourself up for a third term after voters twice affirmed your limit to two qualifies.  Also, announcing a settled union contract without bothering to negotiate with said union is up there.

Let’s review--Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg, after having set a pattern of 4% raises for two years, first suggested a raise of 2% up to the first  $70,000 teachers earn, thus giving those at maximum 1.4%.   I found this kind of outrageous, since whenever the pattern was unattractive, not only the city, but PERB as well, insisted we take it.

Not only that, but PERB insisted we give back in order to approach parity with neighboring districts.  So we gave back.  We gave up seniority transfers.  Now, when Joel Klein closes a school, teachers have to look for jobs.  And what with the innovation of making buildings pay individual salaries, it’s very tough for senior teachers to find work.  What principal wants a 100K teacher when he can buy two shiny new ones and get a big-screen TV for his office with the change.

Also, since 2005, teachers patrol lunchrooms, dodge flying cheeseburgers, and mediate food fights between disparate factions of sophomore malcontents.  I remember once reading a column in the Times about the secret value of lunchroom duty.  Let me tell you, I’ve done it, and in a school of 4,000 plus you rarely encounter your own students, you rarely have those valuable heart-to-hearts, and only someone who’s never done the job would delude himself into imagining it was of any value.  Lunch patrol is the single most unrewarding task I’ve performed in 25 years as a teacher.  The value of lunchroom duty is a deep, deep secret, and no teacher I’ve ever spoken with has ever managed to penetrate it.

We also gave back the right to grieve letters in our file.  For example, if an English teacher is accused of stealing pencils, she can no longer be defended on the mere basis she did not steal the pencils in question.  You’d think that no one, in this day and age, would get a letter in her file for having stolen pencils that, for all we know, are sitting in the supervisor’s desk under a box of tissues.  You’d be wrong.

Thousands of teachers sit for not 30, not 40, but for 37.5 minutes a day giving “small group instruction.”  This is something that’s not exactly a class, as no grades are given, but it’s going on all over the city.   Perhaps Tweed feels that compensates for our having the largest class sizes in the state.  I don’t know.  But that’s one of the things we gave to get a compensation increase a few points above the pattern in 2002, and then 2005.

So, Mayor Bloomberg, if you’re reading this, know that I’m with you.  I’ll take a zero for the common good.  That’s the kind of guy I am.  However, PERB declared pattern bargaining was sacrosanct, and who am I to question their wisdom? 

So here’s the deal, Mr. Mayor.  You take back all the things we gave you in 2005, and 2002, and we’ll agree to the zeroes.  We are reasonable people.  We’re willing to negotiate.

Are you?
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