Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What would Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, or Yahweh do?

So what would have happened if that Airbus 320 that desperately ditched in the freezing Hudson with 155 souls aboard last month had consisted entirely of Amherst School teachers and administrators?

They withdraw to the wings and some science geek calculates that if they all stay put the plane will sink enough to place them into freezing water up to their chests; but if they throw six or seven overboard they will stay comfortably high and dry?

And of course even first time flyer's know that when an air traffic controller frantically reports that they lost a blip, emergency response is instantaneous--and in this post 9/11 world--pretty well coordinated.

If the Teachers Union forgoes their COLA (cost of living raise) it will save well over a million dollars—enough to keep the venerable Amherst Schools treading water. Or they can sacrifice their compatriots.

Although I'm sure nobody could confuse the actions of that heroic pilot with the "Acting, Interim Co-Superintendents" of the (once) venerable Amherst School System.

And I bet the Cops, Firefighters, DPW and Town Hall union folks would all follow suit. And at least the Town Manager (the second highest paid employee right behind our not so Super School Supers) is showing some leadership in this issue by refusing his COLA.

A stand up School Committee member reports:


Anonymous said...

Kinda makes you wonder why they call them "unions", huh?

All for one and one for all? I guess not.

During the last bout of fiscal austerity in state government, the attorneys in the Hampden County District Attorney's Office agreed to take a 5% cut in order to save the jobs of support staff. As one of those attorneys, I thought it was worth it: it was simply the decent thing to do.

But the principle of union solidarity prohibits this here in Amherst? Am I missing something?

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

As a former Teamster Union Member while working at UPS in Hartford in the early 1980’s I vividly recall hot Summer nights where every now and then some guy unloading the big old 18-wheeler next to me would bellow: “The only Union BIGGER than the Teamster Union is the Soviet Union!”

And we know of course where those Ruskies are now: the dustbin of history, right next to Jimmy Hoffa.

Neil said...

The union would be smart to advocate for deferring the pay increase in return for keeping the jobs. Do you agree?

LarryK4 said...

Oh yeah!

IF they had a PR brain in their head (and the Union spokesperson sure as Hell should) they will do the right thing.

(But don't hold your breath)

O'Reilly said...

Also some union members are high on the pay scale and some are low on the pay scale. They might consider asking the high pay scale folks to give up more of their raises than the low pay scale folks.

Here's the thing - if they defer the raises until later, they give up only a little money in the short term and in return can ask for no union members to be layed off.

Ed said...

I hate to say this, but perhaps layoffs are for the best.

Nowhere but the public sector do people still have secretaries anymore -- everyone else types his/her/its own stuff him/her/itself.

I like seeing people getting hired in K-12 (I have a personal financial interest here) but at what point do we have too many people on the payroll? We have spent the past 20-25 years literally throwing bodies at the problem, starting with the tail end of the baby boom in the 1970s we have promoted teacher job security by increasing the number of teachers in spite of a declining number of students.

So we have gone from 1:30 to 1:20 down to (I am guessing here) 1:6 or so. There are teachers, aides, counselors and handholders along with multiple layers of supervisors for each. At what point do we say ENOUGH!

We could build the TransAmherst Highway - widen Route 9 to an 8-lane divided highway with a nice cloverleaf for Route 116 but at what cost? Most of downtown would be bulldozed and at great expense, but we would eliminate traffic jams. So too here, we could have a 10:1 (ten employees to one pupil) ratio but again at what cost?

At some point we have to say No More!

Max Hartshorne said...

Hey Ed

Why don't you just break down and start your own blog? Your comments are often longer than Larry's posts! What's holding you back?

Anonymous said...

HEDLINE: "Kelley praises Shaffer on raise refusal"

LarryK4 said...

I call 'em like I see 'em. That simple.

Neil said...

Ed 's comment about cost control in public school education was mostly on point, which I appreciate (I do not necessarily agree with his assessment of system rife with excess labor but I appreciate that it was somewhat on point.) That said Max, I think Ed is ready for his own blog and I would read it and comment (I hope that is not a disincentive.)

Anonymous said...

Schools are much more labor heavy than in the good old days because of all the state and federal mandates for speacial needs. A lot of students have one on one paraprofessionals. This is not the school's fault. Once you have more staff to student ration you need to supervise them and that adds more staff. Some of this is unavoidable because autism rates are skyrocketing and no one knows why. These students need more attention.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding, from reading the paper, that the teachers union hasn't even been asked to hold off on raises yet...

Anonymous said...

Are you telling me that the Amherst school admins. didn't see this fiscal snowball coming at them when they signed the teachers contract a mere year ago? If they didn't then where the hell were they looking? Also, what's the point of having contracts if we are going to just throw them out the window when times get tight. Afterall, thats the point of a contract, to protect BOTH parties. And why is it that they always ask the lowest paid people to give up their raises? Has anyone asked the high school principle to give back some of his 119,000 per year pay? What if the schools had a surplus? Would the teachers then be able to reopen the contracts to ask for MORE money? I doubt it!!

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like the school comm. is trying to make the teachers and their union the scapegoats in an effort to cover up lack of oversight on the comm. part. They shouldn't blame the teachers for their failures.