Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random Thoughts

A lot of thoughts have been rattling around in my head lately (no cracks about all the room in there), and I'd like to write detailed posts about many of them, but since I don't have the time I'll just throw a few random thoughts out there.

Seniority: The bill currently in Albany to do an end run around seniority worries me. I don't think it has much of a chance of passing, but we are moving in that direction. Young teachers don't seem to care much about seniority, mostly, I would guess, because they don't see themselves in the system for an extended period or they think this law would never apply to them. Personally, I think it's nothing more than a money making scheme for the city and state--a way for them to hire teachers on the cheap and make sure that pensions never have to be paid in the future. There's an interesting conversation going on about this at NYC Educator's blog, where Miss Eyre came out in favor of proactively changing the system before the legislature changes it for us. I totally disagree with her; seniority should be sacrosanct. We could easily garner the support of every union worker in the state, because let's face it--if teachers lose seniority, every other union member in the state is in jeopardy.

Florida: Who'd have thought that Charlie Crist, a Republican for God's sake, would veto a bill that would have eroded seniority rights, tenure, and introduced merit pay based on test scores? He got 65,000 calls and emails opposing the bill, and only 3000 in support. In addition, Miame-Dade teachers staged a sick out, showing that they mean business. Why the UFT can't take some serious action when it so obviously works?

Principals: If seniority was taken away, would you want to have your future determined by a leadership academy principal like this one? Another reason to fight tooth and nail to keep it.

Rubber Rooms: I'm glad they are gone, but the devil is always in the details. I'm taking a wait and see attitude on this one. The UFT has been bested in so many negotiations with Bloomberg that it's embarrassing.

Negotiations: Why are we negotiating AT ALL? Again, I'm glad we are getting the rid of the RRs, but shouldn't this have been part of contract negotiations? Why are we giving the city ANYthing while they are holding our raise hostage and threatening to lay off 8500 of us?

The Law: If any lawyers can help here, I'd appreciate it. Seniority for layoffs is not just a matter of state education law, it is also part of our contract. Can the state simply overturn a collective bargaining agreement by passing a law? It's been a long time since I took a law class, but I kind of remember that a contract is pretty tough to break when both sides willingly entered into it.

UPDATE! Found Via GothamSchools, it appears one of the cosponsors of the bill has dropped out, because the he believes the contract clause of the constitution bars states from interfering with current contracts. So if I figured that out, why didn't the UFT lawyers?

Layoffs: If a teacher is one year away from retirement and gets laid off, wouldn't that person be entitled to a full pension anyway, considering that for 24 years that person worked under a contract that pretty much guaranteed them a full pension as long as they didn't do anything to get fired? Would the city have to refund some or all of the pension money paid in? What about the additional 25/55 funds that were voluntarily given under current layoff rules? Wouldn't the city have to give those back? Would those laid off be entitled to their jobs as soon as hiring restarted?

Relief: Read some hilarious detention slips here.


Miss Eyre said...

I agree with you on the Rubber Room issue. I'm sure we're all thrilled (no sarcasm) that they're being closed, but it should have been a prong of the contract negotiations. Unless it is. Which should be disclosed.

reality-based educator said...

Contracts are sacrosanct except in the case of worker's contracts. That's how this Court has found - corporations are people with all attendant free speech rights, student loans must ALWAYS be paid even when the borrower is in a wheelchair and dying (Social Security benefits were garnished - Court voted 9-0 in favor of SLM) - so I suspect the contractual language means diddly when Justices Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy and Scalito get their hands on the case.

No Corporation Ever Left Behind is there motto.

As for the seniority issue, it's definitely just about saving money. If we give on the issue, no one will ever make it to max. Not ever. There will always be a "crisis" which requires the laying off of vets. How newbie teachers cannot see this is beyond me. Maybe they're naive, maybe they don't give a shit because they're going off to law school in a few years, maybe they think it won't ever apply to them because they're "good" teachers...but as you say, Talk, change the rule, the state and city will save billions on pensions because they'll never pay out another one once the law goes into effect.