Monday, March 15, 2010

A very public bribe

Amherst teachers agree to contract givebacks if override passes
By NICK GRABBE
Staff Writer

AMHERST - The teachers union voted Monday to turn three "professional days" into unpaid furloughs if voters approve a tax-cap override on March 23.

The vote would affect about 380 employees at the elementary, middle and high schools. It would reduce the budget impact of salary increases next year from about $1.3 million to about $930,000.

The average teacher would receive about $1,000 less than if the union had gone along with its negotiated contract, said president Tim Sheehan.

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Damn! Voted on Monday and it made the Gazette already. How very bloglike of them.

So let me get this strait: If the Override passes, they still get their full raises and step increases but the teachers are going to give up three days of paid professional development and simply take them as "unpaid furloughs." But they will still take all of them as days off...probably not to engage in "professional development."

When the Override fails, 95% of them will still get their full raises and step increases AND those three paid "professional days," only there will be a few less teachers.


37 comments:

Name/URL said...

Why should they give up something if you won't, Larry? They don't have to, you know.

And I hope it fails so they can get their darn raises. They have families, Larry.

Maybe you will get your wish, Larry. I'm sure they are all hoping so.

Larry...

Ed said...

Is this even legal? I think a phone call to the State Ethics Commission would be in order, it clearly is an effort to influence legislation and that constitutes "lobbying" and that raises some questions.

Second, this is not a "giveback" - it means that they will be working fewer days and not paid for the days they don't work. Now what about what was supposed to be done those days -- the curriculum days when curriculum (which the teachers don't want to deal with) was to be unified. Can you say "Trojan Horse?"

Third, teachers will wind up with MORE money when it is all said and done. They still get their pay raises AND their step raises and those will be greater than the three extra unpaid vacation days.

Fourth, the salary increases go in and all future salaries are calculated on that new higher baseline.

The teachers win. All around.

This is NOT a giveback.....

Anonymous said...

Teachers offer $370,000 but only if the override passes. I'm not impressed.

Their offer, becuase it is an offer only if the overrides passes, is salt in the wound if the override doesn't pass. Call it a lose - lose proposition.

The folks at the union negotiating this should be shot. They are harming their own members by maximizing comp rather than maximizing teacher job security.

If the union had deferred the raises due this year until next year then we would have gotten somewhere.

Sammy Jo said...

Sorry, but that still won't make me vote "yes" for the override. Why would I vote to give the town a blank check? The select board failed the voters by not allowing a menu which WE could choose where our tax dollars could go. Police, Fire and Schools would be my vote and in that order.

Anonymous said...

They should look at the economic situation with a different attitude. In the past yearly raises were taken as a right and a given. Things have changed there is no more money at the Federal, State, of local levels. So the vote should be forgive your raises or your fellow workers will lose their jobs. Let's see how altruistic they are? Would the University employees making over 70k give up 5% of their salary to save a few departments that might be cut in the next round? I doubt it. They are big on asking for more money but when it comes to making sacrifices they are all BS.

Anonymous said...

What no one in this town is realizing is that there are major layoffs coming at UMass -- but that the layoffs (of people who tend not to be able to afford to live in Amherst anyway) won't reduce the load on the schools.

They will, in fact, tend to increase it as fewer apartments rented to UM students means more rented to Section 8 single mothers with kids.

And the teachers who negotiated work rules in good times are going to find themselves faced with binding arbitration forcing THEM to accept things that THEY don't want.

Sorry Nina, et al, your days of wine & roses are over - teaching in Amherst is going to suck for the next 20 years....

Anonymous said...

Ed,

Hope your spring break is going well.

It appears that you are a graduate student. Possibly with a tuition waiver and a TA or RA stipend to boot?

H.T.

Anonymous said...

Let me follow up before anybody thinks I'm mean spirited. I'm tired of reading from certain folks over and over again how teachers have it made. Ed has expressed this time and time again.

The teachers I know are working very hard. Doing a difficult job and doing it well despite the lack of leadership AND coordination many outside the schools assume is going on.

The salaries of admins in the schools is much more alarming to me than COL raises. Because those salaries are at the discretion of a few, elected, volunteers...

Why it's become this call to arms that the override depends on the teachers to take a cut "for the kids", "for the community" etc. And yet, we can negotiate agreements to pay for people to travel and housing and who knows what in these very non-transparent "administrative" line items.

I don't know Nina but admire her ability to post coherent thoughtful posts with experience, knowledge and insight behind them.



I have never been a teacher, I do not have the calling. And it is just that, a calling and many, if not most, of our teachers exemplify that.

H.T.

Anonymous said...

2:17 "If the union had deferred the raises due this year until next year then we would have gotten somewhere."

THEY DID THAT ALREADY. SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND NOW WE'RE HARASSING THEM FOR GIVEBACKS. They would be idiots to fall for that one again.

Anonymous said...

So I'm sure there will be this huge out cry about this because the teachers have become the scapegoats for our fiscal crisis. What about the fake giveback by the police? What's that going to cost us? Where's the outcry about that? Larry- I know you did point this out.

Ed said...

It appears that you are a graduate student.

Yes

Possibly with a tuition waiver and a TA or RA stipend to boot?

No, none.

If I had one, I would be showing up in the database: http://www.umass.edu/peoplefinder

And I neither am asking for sympathy nor want to hear how easy I have it.

Ed said...

So I'm sure there will be this huge out cry about this because the teachers have become the scapegoats for our fiscal crisis. What about the fake giveback by the police? What's that going to cost us? Where's the outcry about that?

My position is (and always has been) that Prop 2.5 is a very simple contract -- Caesar gets this much and no more. And it is Caesar's responsibility to use it wisely. And I will include the police along with the firemen and the DPW and everyone else.

Too many people being paid too much money. It is not sustainable.

Ed said...

I'm tired of reading from certain folks over and over again how teachers have it made.

I firmly believe that, compared to the profession in the 20th Century, Amherst K-12 teachers in the year 2010 need to be damn happy about how much they do "have it made."

I compare the experiences these teachers are complaining about to those of my grandmother, my father, myself and further of other friends and family members who are/were teachers.

In the past 30 years, we have done three things -- and Amherst has done it to the extreme: We have increased teacher pay (in total dollars adjusted for inflation), we have decreased teacher workload (both reducing pupil loads and adding paras/support staff), and we have made teachers exempt from all legitimate criticism.

If a house burns down, the fire department is criticized - if kids don't learn, no one seems to care.

I have no problem saying that teachers in Amherst today ought to be damn glad for what they have and stop complaining. In any objective measure you look at, this is the absolute best time to be a teacher and the best time to be one.

(As an aside: the baby boomlet is over - I suspect that teacher's conditions (nationally) are going to decline much as they did after the baby boom did...)

The teachers I know are working very hard.

I know a lot of people who work very hard.

Doing a difficult job and doing it well despite the lack of leadership AND coordination many outside the schools assume is going on.

Where do the school leaders come from? Excepting the now-departed superintendent, exactly how many of these administrators were hired from outside the district? Exactly how many of them were imposed upon the teachers and how many of them came from the teaching cadre itself?

Further, there is a strong concept of "faculty self governance" in the ARSD and the question I thus ask is exactly what legitimacy do you have to complain about the self-governance you are doing yourself?

The salaries of admins in the schools is much more alarming to me than COL raises.

I am not supporting these salaries, nor the number of non-teaching personnel in the district, nor the reduced teaching load of the teachers themselves. This is all one big combined objection here...

Because those salaries are at the discretion of a few, elected, volunteers...

Which is why some of those volunteers are no longer on the school committee....

I don't know Nina but admire her ability to post coherent thoughtful posts with experience, knowledge and insight behind them.

I don't know her either, but she is a clear example of how good Amherst teachers have it. There are many MANY districts where she would not dare to post any of the stuff she is, let alone with her name on it.

Even at UMass, she wouldn't -- UMass once went through everyone's long distance bills to see who had called a certain reporter at the Boston Globe. Seriously.

And what Nina would find is not that she was fired (if she had tenure) but that she wasn't teaching the classes she wanted to teach anymore, or that she wasn't even in the same school anymore.

Or if she found herself doing admin duties instead of teaching, if she became Nina the Lunchroom Lady...

I do not want to come across as a critic of education. It is just that the people in this district have got to realize what they HAVE and don't realize -- not that long ago, teachers were responsible for the physical cleaning of their own classrooms, right on down to making sure that the curtains were pulled down precisely to a certain point at the end of each day so that the building looked nice.

In fact, my grandmother actually had to start the fire in the stove each morning (if she wanted a warm classroom - this a one-room schoolhouse) and keep it going. I don't think there are any teachers (in this district) that would tolerate such conditions today...

Anonymous said...

And why won't teachers - who have no problem grading students - not let themselves be graded?

Why is there a wall of chalk protecting everything from the light of day? Sunlight is, after all, the best disinfectant - and those with nothing to hide should welcome public scrutiny.

Well????

Anonymous said...

Instead of cutting programs, why doesn't the district start taking steps to remove teachers who not only aren't effective but who are damaging to kids. Everyone knows who these 2 to 3 teachers are in each building. If the district took legal steps to remove those teachers (many being paid over $70,000 a year, some so bad they have been removed from classrooms and are still on the payroll), we would be able to save programs and probably not even need the override.

Anonymous said...

Ed,

Do you own a home? (r.e. are you a taxpayer?) Do you have kids in the Amherst schools?

If not, then I don't see what business this is of yours?

Anonymous said...

"And why won't teachers - who have no problem grading students - not let themselves be graded?"

First, as a teacher, I must call you on your use of the double negative. Were you absent the day they taught that? I believe what you want to say is why won’t teachers let themselves be graded.

Teachers are paid to grade students. Administrators are paid to grade teachers

You obviously have never looked into this issue, and are probably re-stating what some knuckle head told you. In which case, you are both wrong.

The teachers have always had an evaluation process built into their contract. In fact, the language is fairly specific. Most recently, with the contract that went into effect in 2008-09, the teachers agreed to an extensive upgrade to their evaluation process which is now in affect.

Anyone in town who has been bashing teachers for not allowing evaluation simply is uninformed.

I realize this blog specializes in uninformed rants and viral spewing of lies with hatred and anger, but please look into the subject of teacher evaluation in the Amherst schools and the region and you will find the new evaluations documents.

Of course, that would require spending some time researching a bit and then allowing others' views, in this case facts, to enter the dialogue.

Until you spend that time and acknowledge the teacher evaluation plan under contract, you are just another uninformed local spouting nonsense and lies.

Once you do find the evaluation language, I’m sure you’ll find another reason to kick the teachers in the teeth, since your real argument is not about teachers being graded but about the need for a scapegoat. I certainly don’t expect you to change.

I understand times are hard all over. One can disagree with ideas about spending in an intelligent- meaning fully informed -manner. However, your approach is to bash teachers based on hearsay. I doubt you’d appreciate anyone bashing you or your vocation based on what he heard about it or you.

Unless, of course, you have proof that the contract does not contain any language about teacher evaluation.

Put up or shut up.

Ed said...

Do you own a home? (r.e. are you a taxpayer?)

People who rent are also taxpayers, you ignorant schmuck.

How exactly do you think that the property owner obtains the money to pay the property taxes on rental property? It comes from the tenants as part of the rent.

And people who rent property in this town actually pay HIGHER property taxes than those who live in properties owned by the bank via mortgage.

And beyond that, I won't dignify you with a response you schmuck.

Anonymous said...

Hey cub reporter wannabe Jimmy Olson,

"So let me get this strait:"

Try to get it straight.

Hey Ed,

Schmuck you, foolish man.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

Obviously--as always--you are (or is it were?)

Anonymous said...

So whatever happened to the share the pain rant? The teachers are offering to give up $1000 in earnings if taxpayers agree to pay an average of $264 more in taxes. But we're still laying the blame on their doorstep? It will take nearly four years for the average homeowner to experience the same amount of "pain" through the override increase that teachers are agreeing to absorb in one year. But apparently that's not enough bludgeoning for some folks.

Anonymous said...

I think it's an unwise decision that ultimately hurts both kids and teachers because it means an inevitable increase in class size.

If it were me (and yes, I was a teacher once) I'd give up a 3 or 6 percent raise to see my class size not go up by six or eight students. Sometimes my kid in middle school doesn't get back assignments for weeks as it now stands.

Amherst teachers are already the best paid in the valley, let's not forget.

Anonymous said...

I think it's an unwise decision that ultimately hurts both kids and teachers because it means an inevitable increase in class size. If it were me (and yes, I was a teacher once) I'd give up a 3 or 6 percent raise to see my class size not go up by six or eight students. As things now stand, my kid in ARMS doesn't get back assignments for weeks already.

Amherst teachers are already the best paid in the valley, let's not forget. (And no, this is not teacher bashing. It is recognizing we're in a deep recession and a lot of economic uncertainty for many people. )

Anonymous said...

"Too many people being paid too much money. It is not sustainable."

I agree.

hess said...

Dear Anonymous,

Just kidding.

No MORE overrides? Two in 28 years. More?

Teachers give up $1000 per year and then pay an average of $280 if they live in town. That's putting your money where your mouth is.

Your home values will start to tank if the schools and services deteriorate.

Larry- how much to join your gym? just kidding.

hess said...

Larry says we lose a few teachers. It's 25 teachers. Don't exaggerate, please.

LarryK4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed said...

First, as a teacher, I must call you on your use of the double negative.

Conservatives don't need proofreaders, we have our critics for that...

Teachers are paid to grade students. Administrators are paid to grade teachers

Fine. And when was the last time that an administrator did that? When was the last time that a TENURED teacher was fired?

You obviously have never looked into this issue, and are probably re-stating what some knuckle head told you. In which case, you are both wrong.

OK, enlighten me. Statistics, please. If it isn't a case of "make it through the 3rd year and you have a job for life" situation, document that....

The teachers have always had an evaluation process built into their contract.

And the old Soviet Union had an election process built into its constitution that actually was fairer (on paper) than ours.

In fact, the language is fairly specific.

As it was in the Soviet Constitution. And equally meaningless. Name one tenured teacher who was evaluated out of the system...

Most recently, with the contract that went into effect in 2008-09, the teachers agreed to an extensive upgrade to their evaluation process which is now in affect.

Name one tenured teacher who was evaluated out of the system? And why - exactly - do you consider it right for teachers (and not the School Committee) to be setting educational policy in the high school (i.e. trimesters)?

Anyone in town who has been bashing teachers for not allowing evaluation simply is uninformed.

When was the last time the teachers allowed someone to be evaluated out of the system?

I realize this blog specializes in uninformed rants and viral spewing of lies with hatred and anger, but please look into the subject of teacher evaluation in the Amherst schools and the region and you will find the new evaluations documents.

I don't really care what the documents say, I want to know when was the last time someone was evaluated out of the system???

Of course, that would require spending some time researching a bit and then allowing others' views, in this case facts, to enter the dialogue.

OK, I will listen to you tell me when the last time it was that a tenured teacher was evaluated out of the system. I am waiting...

Ed said...

Until you spend that time and acknowledge the teacher evaluation plan under contract, you are just another uninformed local spouting nonsense and lies.

Oh, how very Ivory Tower. I think the biggest issue people have with the teachers - and why some teacher-bashing does exist - is this arrogant condescending attitude that comes from far too many in the profession.

The locals, my dear, are the people who pay your salary. Don't ever forget that...

Once you do find the evaluation language,

I really don't care if the entire book of Leviticus is in the contract, I want to know what the consequences of the evaluation language are.

Furthermore, if you want to go with the "Amherst HS grads get into good colleges" mantra, adjust for the following three facts: (a) family wealth, (b) family connections, and (c) the word "Amherst" on the diploma.

Or, conversely, tell me how many of the kids who live in Southpoint or Village Park or on Olympia Drive are making it into college? Or into well paying trades? Or, basically, anything other than the back seat of a police car....

So much for "social justice."

I’m sure you’ll find another reason to kick the teachers in the teeth,

My point is simple - call it what you will - Amherst teachers are the best paid in the valley, and are doing far less work than any teacher did in the 20th Century.

And we have too many teachers (and too many municipal employees) who are paid too much and we can't sustain both...

One can disagree with ideas about spending in an intelligent- meaning fully informed -manner.

Apparently only when one agrees with you...

However, your approach is to bash teachers based on hearsay.

"Hearsay" apparently including video clips of things like Mark Jackson's insubordinate rant?

Unless, of course, you have proof that the contract does not contain any language about teacher evaluation.

Bluntly: I don't give a **** what the contract language says, I want to know when the last time a TENURED non-performing teacher was fired.

Put up or shut up.

Your evidence, please....

Ed said...

I doubt you’d appreciate anyone bashing you or your vocation based on what he heard about it or you.

OK.

Teachers. UMass Students. The Post Office. The District Attorney's Office.

Why is one of these groups different from the others? Why are teachers somehow exempt from public comment????

Anonymous said...

Sheesh, Ed. Get a life!!! And I'd get your blood pressure checked.

Ed said...

Sheesh, Ed. Get a life!!! And I'd get your blood pressure checked.

Blood Pressure is fine, thank you.

And forgive me for caring....

Anonymous said...

So, Ed. Are you ever going to finish college and go on to a real life where you actually have to work for a living?

Any chance this real life with an actual job would take you out of Amherst??

Anonymous said...

I think blog responses might be part of a "dissertation"....

Ed said...

So, Ed. Are you ever going to finish college and go on to a real life where you actually have to work for a living?

It is this that has finally convinced me that the override is known to be doomed.

"When all else fails, attack the plaintiff" -- Cicero....

Anonymous said...

Ed has a point. When was the last non-performing tenured teacher fired? The principals know exactly who these teachers are, but take no steps to remove them. The kids are the ones who suffer.

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