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Tyranny of the Seniority

Original post made by Dark Corners of Town on Jan 28, 2010

PUSD and the teachers union are negotiating a new contract. A majority of PUSD expense is being negotiated now and locks in this expense structure for the life of the contract.
In 2009 the PUSD Board of Trustees and the Association of Pleasanton Teachers (teachers union) agreed to cut 57 teachers while maintaining over $1M in automatic salary increases for the remaining teachers. Education quality suffered and our children impacted.
The union does what its teachers want. The majority of teachers (those with seniority) sacrificed the jobs of younger teachers to project their own jobs and salary increases. These same teachers have a union leadership, bargaining team and political influence that make the PUSD Board of Trustees unwilling to tackle the structural issues and develop sound fiscal solutions to protect our kids and the quality of education in Pleasanton.
The tyranny of the seniority hurts the children of Pleasanton, while lining the pockets of the remaining teachers and the union. And this is good?
The cycle is repeating itself. The 2010-11 budget reductions proposed by Superintendent Casey at the Jan 26 school board meeting includes at least 31 teacher job cuts, and many classified, specialist and support position cuts. Tyranny of the seniority is being applied again and next year teacher salaries will increase again.
This cycle of tyranny must stop. Stop the teacher job cuts. Stop hurting the quality of education. The PUSD Board of Trustees needs to Put Kids First, show some backbone and negotiate salary reductions with the teachers union. Bring back teacher jobs and restore educational excellence. Stop the tyranny of the seniority. Put Kids First. Put Union Tyranny Last.

Comments (20)

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Unions protect teachers and do not cause harm to children.


no spin zone!

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm

OK, how about this as a last resort. The PUSD needs to simply impose cuts and freezes on the teachers. The union will not agree. PUSD can give the teachers a choice -- show up for work under the new conditions (not a legal "contract" but employer forced conditions) or face bankcrupty and termination of the contract entirely. Now "a reader" is gonna jump in here and say that all of the "good" teachers will immediately leave for greener pastures somewhere else. I would ask "where might that be since NO district is hiring at all let alone at the rates of pay for Pleasanton".
The senior teachers, with health benefits, elected to pad their pensions and take money for medical benefits. The junior ones who might not have benefits through a spouse pay for their own. Is this unfair? It would be if they were hired not knowing the terms but is that really what happened? Did PUSD hire teachers and NOT disclose that they would have to pay for health care barring proof of other insurance? I think not.
The union negotiated that contract, now they can stop whining about it. Our teachers are among the very highest paid in the nation and they work three quarters of the time that a full time employee does. I do not believe the rhetoric about how they spend so much personal time on lesson plans. Bull. These senior teachers do not rewrite the entire course curriculum every year. They are paid very well for the privilege of having every weekend, every school holiday and every summer off. Don't bother with the anecdotes about teachers showing up 2 weeks early, on their own time, to hang up a few posters in a classroom.
The union reps make salaries that would put Casey's salary to shame. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that those huge salaries are dependent on getting constant raises for their constituents. And those who pay the salaries are the taxpayers. Enough is enough. If they don't want to give up something then fire them all. It happened to the air traffic controllers in the early 1980s and guess what -- the world did not end.

Posted by Puhleeeze, a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm

While your points have some validity, new teachers are not always better teachers. My kids have some new teachers this year at one of the high schools and I can tell you that these teachers are way worse than any veteran teacher my kids have had. Sure they act like they care but they also have no boundaries and let the kids do whatever they want. Kids will do as little as possible if we let them and these new teachers I speak of do not expect much of my kids. They are beyond lousy. I say let them go and put pressure on the administration to demand excellence from the veteran teachers. Administration/principals/superintendents need to understand that we expect them to expect the best of their employees. It's consistent on this blog that you all think teachers can not be fired, it's untrue it's just that the administrators are too lazy to do the job they need to do. Our schools are slipping. We need to stop the downward spiral and this needs to be the time. Money problems aside it's not all the parents, as some of you claim. We need good management to create higher standards for the teachers. Many of whom are beyond wonderful by the way.

Posted by TO Resident, a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Take a look at Fremont's salary schedule
They pay just as much as PUSD - even more if you have a masters or doctorate degree.
Web Link

Stop slamming teachers. We need good teachers and we need to give them security so that they can focus on an incredibly important job. I don't understand why in this community we spend tons of money on BMWs for our precious little darling children but we don't want to pay good money for good people to educate them? What are we teaching our kids when we send the message that their teachers are not valuable?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I agree with Puleeze: I think experience makes a big difference in a teacher's effectiveness. They understand the collective soul of the class and the individuality of each student. They have faced many problems (and problem children) and already know how to resolve them, probably through some trial and error in their novice years.

The issue isn't the subject matter--that is pretty much stagnant every year. But what changes every year is the student body, and that is what makes the job challenging.

I was not so much commenting on the unions, but more on teacher experience.

Posted by Union rep, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Someone should've told me that I can get paid more than Casey! I've been doing it for free!

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Read today's Independent article about the manner in which past contracts were negotiated and how the school district (Casey) made it difficult for the public to read them before final approval by the Board. Now he says things will be different this time and the negotiations will be transparent to the public. Geeeshhhh.....

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Don't come to me for money.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

It's not an issue of young teachers being better or worse than the experienced teachers. It's the fact that the primary consideration is TENURE and not QUALITY. Since the senior teachers have the leadership positions in the union, it stands to reason that they'll advocate solutions that benefit THEM (and not the kids). That's not their fault, I'm sure we would do the same to protect our jobs.

But the Administration needs to take charge of the layoffs and raises, and make sure only the BEST teachers are kept and the worst ones, whether young or old, are the first ones to be fired. If you leave it up to the union, self-preservation takes over, and we'll get stuck with only tenured teachers, for better or worse.

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:42 pm

It is good for Pleasanton and the local education budget debate that Dr. Casey is committed to transparency regarding the union contract negotiations (Web Link).
"What that means is that we will look at having joint communications out from each of our meetings. We'll try to do that, and have specifics sunshined, so the community can weigh in with the board as to what the board should do. That's the model we will use this time," said Casey.
The first meeting was held Jan 27. Has anyone seen a joint communications from that meeting? Or have they 'looked at it' and decided otherwise?

Posted by "old tenured" 30 yr old, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 12:04 am

Please tell me what companies are hiring the youngest, most inexperienced people for positions. My husband has been out of work for a year and can't seem to find these places you speak of in the business world.

It is so ironic to read this from you DCOT since for years I had parents bully me and try to get their way in the classroom because I was new and young and believing I didn't know what I was doing. They thought they could bully me into changing my policies. Those who didn't like the new teacher's homework policy, or classroom management system actively chased many of my new, young teammates out. We used to call it the witch hunts, and watch out if you were next on the list. It was really about the constant need to rescue their child instead of letting them experience a style or personality they didn't think was perfect. How is that helping children? I often wondered if they planned to follow their children into the work force and get any coworker or boss fired because they were not fair to their child? What skills will our children have to deal with divergent personalities once you standardize all educators to match your personal belief of ideal?

How funny that now I have a masters degree, three different credentials, hundreds of hours of specialized training and best practices, I am now stereotyped and bashed as hurting the students of this community.

How you feel you have the authority to stereotype and denounce the quality of ALL the tenured teachers in this district is unbelievable. It's unfortunate that because of your printed misconceptions, many may have a skewed vision of the amazing teaching that takes place all over this town, but I guess that is your point.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 30, 2010 at 7:14 am

I don't necessarily agree with everything union. But when it comes to my kids, I don't want high turnover rates for their teachers either. Union teachers generally stay put and have to put in hours of related training that would usually be optional in the private sector. Private sector employees are also free to leave at any time to pursue better and more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. Would you want your child's teacher leaving in the middle of the year because some other school is paying them better?

I think parents should be careful about what they wish for. In teaching, experience is everything and there is a steep learning curve to teaching that every teacher, no matter how bright, must go through. In a way, teacher unions also protect our children. Teachers must teach for a certain amount of time before they can join, so the ones who dislike teaching usually drop out before this time. They are also required to log hours and hours of extra training to further their skills.

And with regards to their pay, these are your children they are teaching. Show them more respect. No teacher is getting rich off of teacher salaries.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Anonymous wrote: "Would you want your child's teacher leaving in the middle of the year because some other school is paying them better?"

You assume that this doesn't already happen. Are you sure? Besides, what do you think employment contracts are for? All a union does is take away the right of an individual to negotiate their own contract.

"Teachers must teach for a certain amount of time before they can join, so the ones who dislike teaching usually drop out before this time. They are also required to log hours and hours of extra training to further their skills."

Neither is that a function of a union.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I wrote: "All a union does is take away the right of an individual to negotiate their own contract."

Even those individuals who are non-union!

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

To the tenured 30 yr old - In the original posting I say nothing about the quality of the teaching from each individual teacher. The degredation in PUSD educational excellence comes from the PUSD Board's decision to reduce the scope/size of kid facing education, the cutting of teacher positions, the reduction of specialists, Barton reading program funds, and more.
I applaud your personal committment to furthering your education.

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

To 'Anonymous' - You said "And with regards to their pay, these are your children they are teaching. Show them more respect."
The laws of economics, the state of CA finances and the lack of leadership by the PUSD Board of Trustees are unfortunately trumping the ability to protect teacher salaries (what you call 'respect').

Posted by sad, a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

that the superintendent chose to offer three year contracts under these tight budgetary times, shameful really, I wish my company would offer my a three year contract, did the board approve this?

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm

to sad: Yes, the board approved the contract extensions.

Also important to know: the assistant superintendents gave back 3 days to help balance the budget for the current fiscal year (as did other management employees, I believe.)

I do not have the contracts in front of me, but I do not believe they included any raises compared with last year -- so the net impact for those management employees was a decrease in take-home pay.

Posted by To Sad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:51 pm

The School Board approved the renewal of the three asst. superintendents' contracts. The contracts were renewed for three years, and include a $400 per month car allowance for each asst. superintendent.

Posted by To Sad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

The Asst. Superintendents' car allowance is less in their new contracts. Previously, they were receiving $500 per month.

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