Sunday, March 8, 2009

Widening the Gap

No, not the achievement gap. The salary gap. Remember when Randi touted the disastrous last few contracts, claiming they helped achieve some sort of parity with a number of neighboring districts? Well, it was a joke then, and it's an absolute crying shame now. When those contracts were signed, our top salary was 100,000. Assuming that we get the 4% that other unions, such as DC37 got, the top salary will be 104K. In today's Newsday, it was reported that many LI teachers will get 6%, and some as much as 8%, bringing the top salary of many teachers on the island to well over 140K. That's a gap of over 40%.

To make matters worse, even the measly 4% isn't guaranteed. Bloomy is running around shouting that the sky is falling, and... DC 37 pact followed a pattern set by other municipal unions before the economy tumbled. Bloomberg has said he wouldn't make the same deal today. Well, what deal is there left to make other than the deal with teachers? Additionally, Bloomy wants teachers to pay 10% of our health premiums, which would effectively wipe out any gains anyway. Does anyone expect Randi to be able to successfully negotiate even the pattern set by DC37 for us?

There's an interesting debate going on at NYC Educator's blog touching indirectly on these very points. A poster from Gotham Schools named Ken equates NYC teachers to lazy slobs and thinks school choice (charters and vouchers, presumably) will change everything. I pointed out that the thing to do is fix all the schools--not just a few charters with small class sizes and vast resources that make the city look good. Imagine how many great teachers NYC would attract if we had what Long Island does: 140K salaries, good working conditions, and involved parents. But no, that would actually fix something. Ed reformers don't want to fix anything because then they'd be out of a job. They'd rather apply a bandaid to the schools and whine about how we'd be doing better if we left education in the hands of the private sector.

As to the job the private sector has done, let me say a few words: AIG, Citibank, Contrywide Fianacial, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Is this how we want our schools run? Into the ground?


Pissedoffteacher said...

Even with our lower salaries, NYC has someof the finest teachers in the country. More moneyw ould be nice, but increased salaries will not make us better.

We need smaller classes, better curriculums and better learning environments.

Mr. Talk said...

I agree that NYC has some great teachers. In fact, given the low salary and deplorable conditions in many schools, it's really quite amazing how good our teachers are. Still, there's no denying that many fine teachers flee the system as soon as they can find a job on LI because the money and conditions are far better.

Schools in the worst areas have a hard time attracting good candidates because of safety and discipline issues. I think they get the lion's share of the poor performing teachers.

My philosophy has always been that every school should be a good one--no exceptions. That includes the best teachers, reasonable class sizes, teacher autonomy, etc. If that were to happen, I wouldn't care much that teachers on the island get 40% more than I do.

And as much as I support my fellow teachers, it can't be denied that the city hired just about anyone they could get for a while because no one wanted to work in a bad school for little money and little respect. To prevent that from ever happening again, we need to be competitive with local districts so that there are always multiple candidates for every job opening.