Monday, June 04, 2012

What Teachers Get

As bad as things are in Mayor Bloomberg's New York, they're looking even worse in Chicago. Fred Klonsky highlights the offer teachers over there are looking at. Here it is:

■ A 2 percent raise in year one.
■ A pay freeze in year two.
■ Raises based on “differentiated pay’’ in years three to five. A joint district-union committee, to be seated in January, would decide how “differentiated pay” would work but it could reward teachers of high-need subjects, in high-need schools, or in teacher leadership positions, or those who rate highly in a new teacher evaluation system that is tied, in part, to student growth.
■ Elimination of “step and lane’’ increases for extra years of seniority and added certifications.
■ A longer school day that, under a new law, does not require union approval. The elementary school day will increase from 5 ¾ to 7 hours, and the high school day will increase from 7 hours to 7 ½ hours four days a week, with an early dismissal on the fifth day.
This is amazing. Even Burger King employees get 15% more pay if they work 15% more hours. Chicago teachers are expected, perhaps, to be too stupid to notice. Goodbye to increases you've gotten for sticking it out and staying with the kids for 20 years. Hello to "reformers" deciding whether or not you deserve a raise. Did you raise test scores? Did you wash the principal's car? Did you spend Tuesday afternoon in Motel 6 with your AP?

So many things to consider. It's not surprising that the CTU is holding a strike authorization vote. "Reformers" are always complaining that the system is strictly for adults, and this is the problem. How dare teachers demand wage increases, better working conditions, due process, or pensions? They should give it up, focus on serving the kids, and eat cat food in their twilight years.

 A lot of Americans watch folks like Gates, Rhee, and Bloomberg, and say, yeah, screw those teachers! If my life is crap, why shouldn't their lives be crap too? And sometimes, arguments like those win over disgruntled Americans. But times like these there are other questions that need to be asked.

Is that the kind of career you want for your children? Just because your job sucks, just because your boss is nuts, just because you work 200 hours a week, should your kids do the same? Because really, this is not about you, and it's likely not about teachers who've been doing this for a long time.

It's about the future. It's about leaving this job and this world a little better for those who will take it after we're gone. Perhaps the more work for less pay thing is not optimal after all. In any case, if we're too stupid to know that what we do here is what we're leaving for our children, we deserve just about everything these demagogues are trying to leave us with.

Here in NYC, we've been without a raise for four years. Doubtless if we gave up the ATRs, Mayor Bloomberg would dig into whatever he has in lieu of a heart and grant us one. But we are all ATRs, and if the UFT gives in, we'll all be subject to Bloomberg's fondest desire, random dismissal. That's unacceptable not only for us, but for our students as well. While most societies value experience and wisdom, "reformers" look at teachers and see only price tags. Let's dump that old teacher and buy two shiny new ones. In fact, this will not benefit the kids for whom "reformers" shed all those crocodile tears.

Giving up the ATRs leads us right where Chicago teachers are right now. I only hope we're smart enough to learn from their experience, forge a better direction, and lead rather than continue to get sucked into the endless vortex of "reform."
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