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editorials call for teachers to sacrifice

Original post made by Sandy Piderit, Mohr Park, on Mar 15, 2009

Tim Hunt's column for the Bay Area News Group chastised teachers unions for their posturing this week. Read it for yourself, here:

Web Link

The San Jose Mercury News editorial, on the other hand, said that teachers were right to organize protests to draw attention to the plight of California schools. Read it for yourself, here:

Web Link

While these commentators evaluate the actions of teachers and their unions differently, they share a hope that classrooms can be partially insulated from the impact of cuts to school budgets. They encourage teachers to help cushion the children, and preserve some of their colleagues' jobs.

Hunt concludes as follows:

"The challenge for school districts is to approach tough times like Fed-Ex does, instead of like manufacturers who simply slow production and layoff people. Fed-Ex must continue to deliver its routes so layoffs are limited. Instead, the leadership took 10 percent salary cuts, while the rank and file took 5 percent. All shared the pain to keep the company strong."

Similarly, the Mercury News editors suggest a shared sacrifice, but not such a deep one. They call for a pay cut of 1.5 rather than 5 percent, in the form of a freeze for at least one year of stem and column increases. The editorial also points out the possibility of taking furloughs on professional development days or renegotiating health benefits.

From where I sit, teachers already sacrifice plenty. They work at a pace at least as frenzied as other professionals like accountants, lawyers, and doctors, but for far less salary. They give more of their time than is reasonable to help students, because they know that if they don't, those kids could get left further and further behind. They share techniques that work with other teachers, and seek out new approaches on their own time and throughout their careers.

I think I do my share, as a parent and a taxpayer, but I can tell that the status quo will not be enough for next fall. Already, I am digging deeper, and next year I will volunteer more hours in our schools. But the numbers of us who can volunteer, because we have flexible hours or part-time jobs, are dwindling. As a volunteer, I cannot replace a reading specialist, computer technician, librarian, or counselor.

Teachers know better than any others that the work that all the employees at a school do together is important. They know the value of their team. As the APT negotiates with the school district in Pleasanton, I hope APT members will consider demonstrating your respect for your coworkers with jobs on the line. A tangible financial sacrifice offered at the negotiating table is a way to show solidarity. Whether that is accepting furlough days, freezing step-and-column, or shown in some other form, it help protect the educational climate when school starts next fall.

Negotiations begin behind closed doors, of course. When it's time to share details of the proposed contracts with the public, I hope our community can show respect as they debate the APT's proposals.

Comments (9)

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Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2009 at 11:18 am

Tim Hunts position surprised me, his wife is a teacher in the district that is immune to a lay off. It is good the see his support for real administrative and union concessions.

The negotiations with the unions should have been done before going to the community for a parcel tax, the opportunity was there.

The community has not seen the administration demonstrating real cuts, more vacation days don't count. They should be doing something immediately and not waiting until the next budget. In fact, administration raises could be rolled back today. Every dollar cut this year gives more money available for next year.

We all support our teachers, and if reasonable cuts and concessions are made we do not need a parcel tax to keep teachers jobs and maintain valued programs.

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Posted by caveat emptor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

I am convinced that, while there are some people (like Sandy) who are trying to educate the public and have meaningful dialogue here, there are 10-15 other people who continually post on this thing (using a variety of fake names) and their goal is to spread their personal agendas, misinformation, and propaganda .

If you are looking for information with integrity, look at the people who post using their FULL names... like Sandy :)

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Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

caveat emptor - Does this mean your post has no integrity?

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 15, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Could someone please quantify for me the amount of administrative raises that were given last summer? Or point me in the right direction so I can track down the numbers on my own?

I can't details anywhere, even in the archives of the Pleasanton Weekly.

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Posted by caveat emptor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Touché, Carl. Should've seen that coming :)

Just advising not to believe the "facts" that are being presented by anonymous people. For all you know, I could be a disgruntled parent with an axe to grind against the district that has nothing to do with the parcel tax issue...or I could be someone claiming to be a teacher who isn't... or I could just be a bored teenager.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Using a writer's moniker as a method by which to evaluate the credibility of data is not reliable. Anyone can print outright lies and use their full names and that doesn't make the information any more reliable than someone writing under the name "caveat emptor." A better measure of credibility is in how the author forms their argument. Do they provide third-party supporting evidence? Is that evidence from a well-known reliable source? Etc...

While I respect Sandy's interpretation of the situation and I don't agree with cutting teacher pay, I don't see how salary increases (via step and column) during this year can be justified. Teachers work hard, but so does everyone else.

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Posted by Jeb Bing
editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Jeb Bing is a registered user.

We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.

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Posted by Please wait patiently
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Can you all just wait till the "union sings"? Let's see what they provide as willingness to help this situation. Did you expect the teachers union to act first before the state and the community? Why should they? I suspect with the people we have employed here they will rise to the challenge and work with the district.

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 16, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Stacey, I agree that it seems difficult to justify step and column increases this year in the court of public opinion. While I hope the teachers will show some willingness to offer concessions, I don't have a firm preference about what form the concessions take. If they are willing to take fewer paid nonstudent days, or fewer staff development days, instead of freezing step and column, I will still take that as a tangible sign of good faith.

And "Please wait patiently" -- I agree, waiting for a few weeks seems quite reasonable. The state budget was finalized less than one month ago!

If Liz or anyone else has information about how/when the administrative raises occurred last summer, and does not want to register, you could email me your information. My email is my last name (Piderit) at mac dot com.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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