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California Judge Issues A Restraining Order Against Union Busting Tactics In Charter School

Judge Orders Temporary Restraining Order to Protect Teachers at LA’s Largest Charter School Chain from Harassment and Intimidation 

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools must immediately stop coercive tactics, along with surveilling teachers, blocking emails, and denying access to teacher union organizers 

LOS ANGELES – Late Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant signed a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding managers at LA’s largest charter school chain, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, from continuing harassment of the 27-school chain’s 700 teachers.

“It’s very rare for the courts to find it necessary to issue a TRO to protect teachers from abusive behavior by charter school managers,” said United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Alliance employs hard-working, dedicated educators who only want to improve their schools and advocate for their students. Instead of respecting their rights and treating them as professionals and valued employees, they’ve faced an onslaught of unfair and illegal actions. This behavior would be wrong in any workplace but is totally unacceptable in a publicly funded school setting.” 

Last week, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) had asked the court for a TRO and also had filed for “injunctive relief” to stop illegal anti-teacher coercive activity by the charter school chain’s board and managers. PERB made the decision to take Alliance to court and seek an injunction after more than six months of an unlawful anti-union campaign by the Alliance against its own teachers and numerous unfair practice complaints.  A decision on injunctive relief will not be determined until after the parties meet in court on November 17. In the meantime, through the TRO, the court has ordered Alliance to immediately:

  • Stop coercing teachers; 
  • Stop polling teachers on their support for or against the unionization effort; 
  • Allow union organizers access to teachers at the worksite — after school; 
  • Forbid managers from coming within 100 feet of a conversation between union representatives and teachers; 
  • Not block union generated emails to teachers sent via the employer’s email system. 

Alliance has a very high teacher turnover rate, with 25 percent of the chain’s teachers quitting every year. Some schools lose 40 percent of their faculty members annually.  Motivated by a desire to improve student learning conditions and educators’ working conditions, Alliance teachers began exploring unionization last year so that they could address professional issues with the charter chain’s board and executives and better advocate for their students.

In May 2015, roughly a quarter of Alliance’s teachers (146 out of the then 600 teachers) publicly signed their names to a petition and called on the charter school chain’s management to remain neutral as teachers considered forming a union. Earlier, last spring, 70 teachers had announced their intention to form a union with UTLA.  Since that time, according to legal documents, Alliance and its managers have engaged in an unrelenting and illegal anti-union campaign. Among other actions, Alliance management:

  • Sent principals, assistant principals, and other administrators to illegally surveil teachers during discussions with union organizers;
  • Directed Alliance employees not to sign union authorization cards;
  • Interrogated employees about their views on union organizing, and pressured employees to take a position against the union;
  • Interfered with the right of Alliance workers to communicate with one another about workplace issues during non-work times in non-work area;
  • Refused to meet with Alliance employees and union representatives despite state labor law requirements.

The Alliance board of directors, composed primarily of business leaders such as Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler, investment banker Frank Baxter and former Northrop Grumman Chairman and CEO Ron Sugar, has brought some of the worst private-sector anti-union tactics to these publicly funded charter schools. Alliance’s CEO and President is Dan Katzir, who previously served as the Managing Director for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, became Alliance’s top manager earlier this year.

Teachers Deserve Thanks, Not Blame

by Dr. Tom Staszewski,

Dr. Tom Staszewski

Dr. Tom Staszewski

As our public schools begin another school year, it’s time to stop blaming and criticizing teachers and start thanking and acknowledging them.

Our schools reflect society, and society has undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. A typical classroom today consists of many students with severe behavioral problems, limited knowledge of English usage, emotional and psychological difficulties, learning disabilities and attention-deficit disorders. And many suffer from abuse and other adverse home and socioeconomic conditions.

Unlike previous generations, many parents today send their kids to school unfed, unprepared and with little or no basic skills nor social skills. In many neighborhoods, it’s the school building, not the child’s home, that provides a safe, secure and predictable haven. Despite these societal problems, we need to focus on the success stories of what’s right with our schools rather than what’s wrong with our schools.

In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development trainer, I have personally worked with thousands of teachers nationwide. I have found them to be caring, hardworking, dedicated, industrious and sincerely committed to the success of their students.

Teachers’ duties have now grown to the added dimensions of counselor, mentor, coach, resource person, mediator, motivator, enforcer and adviser.

Instead of acknowledging that teaching is a demanding profession, critics will often focus on the supposedly shortened workday of teachers. Still others claim, “Yes, teachers are busy, but at least they get a planning period each day to help get things done.” In reality, the so-called planning period is really a misnomer. A typical teacher is so involved with the day’s activities that usually there is no time to stop and plan. Those minutes that are supposed to be devoted to planning are often filled with endless amounts of paperwork, meetings, interruptions, schedule changes, extra assigned duties, phone calls, conferences, gathering missed work for absent students, completing forms, submitting required data and on and on.

Most teachers leave the building long after the students’ dismissal time and usually with plenty of paperwork and tests to correct. Evenings are spent reviewing homework assignments and planning for the next day of teaching.

In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate/license, once teachers begin to work in the classroom, they need to immediately continue their own education. During summertime, they are constantly updating their education, earning a graduate degree or two and making sure their teaching certificates are active and valid.

Too many people have the mistaken notion that anyone can teach. They think that they could teach because they have seen other people teach.

Yet, when looking at other professions and occupations, these same people understand that they can’t perform those jobs. They may have briefly seen the cockpit of an airplane, but they don’t assume they can fly it. They may have spent an hour in a courtroom but don’t believe that they can practice law. They certainly don’t think they are able to perform surgery.

Every day, teachers are making a significant difference. At any given moment, teachers are influencing children in positive and meaningful ways. Many societal problems exist, such as violence, drugs, broken homes, poverty, economic crises and a variety of other woes. Teachers struggle with the turmoil of society while trying to offset the negative influences outside of school. As they roll up their sleeves and take strides to improve the lives of their students, teachers are the real heroes.

Today’s teacher is more than a transmitter of knowledge; the demands of the profession are ever-increasing. Many parents and taxpayers have an expectation that a school system should be the do all and be all in their children’s lives. Some parents have a notion that they can drop off their child at the schoolhouse door, and behold, 12 years later, they will be able to pick up a perfect specimen of a human being — well-rounded, academically proficient, emotionally sound, physically fit and ready to meet the next phase of life.

But we know that teachers cannot do it alone. A sound, safe and secure home life is essential. An effort on the parent’s part to prepare the child for school is vital. And parental involvement that results in a partnership in the child’s development is necessary. When that doesn’t occur, then it’s easy to scapegoat the classroom teacher.

Instead of bashing our teachers, we should be conveying recognition, accolades, tributes and positive acknowledgments. Teachers deserve a sincere thank-you for the tremendous benefits they provide society. And that’s why my all-time favorite bumper sticker offers a profound and important declaration: “If you can read this … thank a teacher!”

In our schools today, there are thousands of success stories waiting to be told and there’s a need to proclaim those successes proudly and boldly. Teachers should stand tall and be proud of their chosen profession. Critics should not judge them unfairly. Together, let’s become teacher advocates and show admiration for the inspiring and important life-changing work they do.

DR. TOM STASZEWSKI, a former middle school teacher, lives in Erie with his wife, Linda. He recently retired after a 35-year career in higher education administration. A 1970 graduate of Academy High School, he is the author of “Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes it Happen” (tomstasz@neo.rr.com).

Republicans Are The Reason Our Public Schools Are Hurting

Jeb Bush on Education

The Republican Primary is always fun to watch as the candidates try to outdo each other the issues. Recently it was what to do about the problems facing our public school systems.

Our public education system is in rough shape and the majority of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Republican politicians who are starving our schools for money, forcing more and more standardized testing, and funneling our tax dollars to for-profit private and religious schools.

When you add all of these programs together it creates a disastrous ticking time bomb of epic failure.

The problems continue to feed themselves. It begins with cuts to the budget that lead to cuts teacher pay. This results in good teachers leaving the district and then bringing in new inexperienced teachers to replace them.

Then they test every student over and over, and reward high performing schools and make more cuts to low performing schools. (Can you see the problem yet?)

Then they give our tax dollars to traveling medicine men, selling snake oil to fix all of our problems by opening charter schools, stealing more money from struggling schools. Some of these schools take millions in federal, state, and local budgets to build new schools and then file for bankruptcy before they even open their doors.

Then they have to make more cuts to teachers and para-professionals starting the austerity cycle all over again.

The American Federation of Teachers thought it would be good to inform all of you of what a few of the Presidential candidates are saying our teachers and our schools.


Our children deserve better than a schools system that is all test and drill. We need more arts, more music, more science, and more teachers. We need pay our teachers better so that we can retain the best teachers with the pay they deserve. We need to fund our schools properly and stop forcing cuts to staff and services. We need to stop this cycle of austerity that is strangling our public schools.  Our children deserve better!


AFT’s Weingarten Celebrates Teachers, Nurses and Public Employees


WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the occasion of Teacher Appreciation Week, National Nurses Week and Public Service Recognition Week. The AFT represents teachers, nurses and public employees from across the country.

“Many of us have had teachers who changed our lives, nurses who saved our lives or public employees who improved our lives. For me, I often talk about Mr. Swift at Clarkstown High School North, who taught me how to be both confident and responsible, while opening the door to theater and art. Then there’s Jill Cohenour, a chemist from Montana who keeps the drinking water safe for her neighbors. And Christina Enriquez, a public health nurse in Washington who provides support services to expecting and new moms. This week is our chance to say ‘thank you’ to these teachers, nurses and public employees who make a difference every day in the lives of kids, families and communities.

“As our economy bounces back from the recession, it is increasingly clear that great education, healthcare and public services are rungs on the economic ladder to the American dream. That’s why we are celebrating teachers, nurses and public employees this week: They are the heart of our communities, providing vital public services, healing the sick and paving a path of opportunity for all children.

“Unfortunately, these workers have too often been the scapegoat for larger problems—like poverty in our communities, understaffing in our hospitals and austerity measures in our states. Or worse, these workers have been the target of attacks by those who wish to silence their voices and eliminate these essential public services. Let me be clear: Appreciation alone is not enough. As we celebrate these workers, we need to listen to them. We need to give them the tools, resources and support they need to do their jobs well. That’s the way to really show our gratitude.

“All this week, we will join parents, students and communities in lifting up teachers, nurses and public employees both in person and online. So, #thankateacher, #thankanurse and support a public employee by sharing how #governmentworks for you.”

A Retired Public School Teacher Explains Why Teachers (And All Workers) Need Unions

Editor’s Note: I saw this blog post on facebook the other day and thought this is an amazing piece that needs to be seen be every teacher , every union member and every potential union member.

I tried tried to reach out to Fran Cullen but I got no response, so I decided to share with you anyway.  Below is the exact post from Fran on his website.   Thank You Fran for writing this and sharing it with the world, and know this we whole heartedly agree with you.


An Open Letter to All Teachers
Who Have Opted out of Your Union.

Teachers Union Busting Reformers

I know you have opted out of the Union, and since if I knew you personally, I would most likely respect you as an educator, I wanted to share my take on this situation. I don’t know what your reasons for your actions are, and don’t expect that you need to share them with me.  But I know that many of you,

  1. feel you just can’t afford the dues.  Perhaps you feel  

  2. the Union doesn’t do anything for you anyway.  Maybe you feel

  3. Unions have outgrown their usefulness.

Suffice it to say this long standing, well-funded and very carefully orchestrated attack on organized labor is not something I didn’t see coming.  I have been watching it evolve since President Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) in 1981. When organized labor allowed that to happen, the writing was on the wall. And the attack has been predicated on you feeling one or all of the above to be true.

My take is as follows:

We need the Union now more than ever.

This isn’t about me and not about most of you.  It is about the new teachers in your buildings; it’s about the future. It’s about all of those gifted and talented students you teach who dream of becoming a teacher one day. It’s about their expectation that they will be able to raise a family and own their own home.  It’s about what I and most retired teachers enjoy. That is not what those new teachers in your building have to look forward to now, in the later stages of their careers, and after they retire.

Unions protect workers—Your working conditions are your students learning conditions.

It is about those future teachers who may not agree with how things are being run and the protection they will lose.   I and many like me were the kind of teacher not prone to shrinking from a fight to do what was right for our students, even though it may be in direct violation of misguided board of education policy or arbitrary and capricious legislative fiat. That freedom of speech in the workplace was afforded you by the protection we gained being able to collectively bargain a safe and orderly environment for those students.  Our rights in our work environment were NEVER given to us; rather they were won by organized hard work as a member of a Union.

Teaching was, and is again becoming, a “Second Income Profession.” 

I was raised in a time when the teaching profession was not one that afforded educators the security to raise a family and own their own home.  My aunt was a third grade teacher and her salary was what paid for the two week vacation to Lake Charlevoix each year…that’s it! Luckily she was married to a Unionized Postal Employee.

After WWII and with the advent of the GI Bill of Rights, many young men returning from military service took advantage of the GI Bill to attend college.  Several of my high school teachers and counselors were from that group.  Prior to the Unionization of the teaching profession, special mortgage programs had to be set up for those teachers, so they could afford to buy a home.  Conversely, my father worked in an auto factory, and was able to enter the housing market, raise six kids and go on vacation every summer. The difference between teachers and factory workers was that auto workers literally put their lives on the line to obtain a living wage and some basic benefits. Teachers had to make a decision to fight for what they knew they deserved in order to bring the teaching profession into the middle class .  And every one of us is in their debt for those sacrifices.

The pendulum is quickly swinging back to a time when teachers are now qualifying for food stamps.  This will drive the best and the brightest from even considering entering the field in the first place. It is driving the best and brightest in your buildings to create a “Plan B” for their future which does not include being and educator. You may be one of them.

Think about the future of YOUR profession

I don’t expect this message to change the decision you have made.  But I sincerely hope it will cause you to deeply think about the future of your profession. Working people have NEVER realized improvement to their station in life through the kindness of their employer. And in the near future, when there are no restraints on the power of school boards and school administrations, they will continue to act from their natural predilection or because of bullying by their misguided legislature, to strip you of evermore of your hard-won rights.

The end of Unions is the end of Public Education—Period.  

I may be wrong about you, but I don’t think this is a scenario you envision as being good for the future of your students, your profession, your state or your country.

In Solidarity,

Fran Cullen – Retired Teacher – Traverse City Area Public Schools


(Fran also wrote another post talking about how parents and teachers need to stand united if we want to see a better public school system for everyone. Read it here)

The Economy, Education & What America Deserves


Matthew D'Amico

Matthew D’Amico

By Matthew D’Amico

With the school year underway and children getting ready to learn new things about the world, there is great worry as to the state of education in America today. As the father of an 8-year-old boy who attends public school, I know the concern parents have about their children doing well in school. And as a political coordinator for a labor union representing public employees throughout New York State, I’ve seen that working men and women are deeply troubled about our economy. Watching parents having to struggle to provide the basic necessities affects children, even while they are sitting in classrooms about to learn math or the history of the American Revolution. It is shameful that more than 16 million children live in poverty in America, which has such great wealth. And millions more are near poverty, with their parents living paycheck to paycheck—if they are lucky enough to have a job at all. With these agonizing worries—which no person, let alone a child, should have to go through—the ability of children to learn is made unnecessarily more difficult.

We should all be doing everything we can to make sure our public schools are well-funded, so that every child gets a good education. However, there are many people who are now attacking that great thing—free public education—wanting to privatize our nation’s schools as a source of profit for themselves. There are now more than 6,000 charter schools nationwide, double the number from just a decade ago. They’re publicly funded, but privately run. These charter schools are now part of the growing privatization of public education. Here is what I read on Forbes.com: “dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors…gathered to discuss…investing in for-profit education companies.” But according to the National Education Association, “Privatization is a threat to public education, and more broadly, to our democracy itself.”

Why this is happening now is clearly explained by Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, in her commentary What Education & the Economy Are For.  It is a must-read for all who are concerned with education, including the worry that the ‘public’ will be eliminated from public education. In it too is the explanation of why there are such ferocious attempts to do away with unions, and it is also what is behind the drive to privatize public schools. Ms. Reiss writes:

“Eli Siegel is the philosopher to explain: ‘The purpose of education is to like the world through knowing it.’ This idea is fundamental to the Aesthetic Realism method, which has been enabling children of all backgrounds to learn successfully—including children who had been thought incapable of doing so. To like the world through knowing it is why we should learn the alphabet, find out about numbers, continents, atoms, history. To like the world is the purpose of everyone’s life. Meanwhile, humanity has lived for centuries with a system of economics completely opposed to that purpose.

“The profit system has not been based on the fact that this world should belong rather equally to every child from birth so he or she can have a full chance to benefit from it. Profit economics has instead been based on contempt. The profit motive is the seeing of human beings in terms of: how much money can I get out of you?; how much labor can I squeeze from you while paying you as little as possible?; how much can I force a buyer to pay for my product, which she may need desperately?

Ethics, Unions, & America’s Children

“In 1970 Eli Siegel explained that this contemptuous way of economics had failed after thousands of years. The profit system might be made to stumble on awhile, but it would never recover. The fundamental cause of its failure, he said, was the force of ethics working in history. For example: 1) People on all the continents know more, can produce more things, and so ‘there is much more competition…with American industry than there used to be.’ 2) Unions, by the 1970s, had been so successful in their fight for decent wages—so successful in bringing people lives with dignity—that big profits for stockholders and bosses who don’t do the work could no longer be easily extracted from American workers.

“The persons trying to keep the profit system going cannot undo the first of those factors. So they have been trying ferociously to reverse the second: there has been a vicious, steady effort to have workers be paid less and less, be made poorer and poorer. And to achieve this, one has to undermine, even extinguish, unions—because unions are the power which prevents workers from being swindled, kicked around, humiliated, impoverished, robbed.

“Meanwhile, there are America’s children. They are literally abused day after day by those persons trying to impoverish the American people so as to maintain the profit system. Many children come to school hungry. Many don’t have warm coats for winter. Home (if a child has one) is often a place of economic deprivation—and the accompanying anger.

“Then, there are the schools themselves. In recent decades, as traditional venues for profit-making have fared ill, persons have looked for new ways to use their fellow humans for private gain. Behold—that huge ethical achievement in human history, public education! And the profit-seekers thought, ‘There’s a whole new industry for us here!’ The one reason for the enormous effort to privatize America’s public schools—and that includes through vouchers and through charter schools—is: to use the lives and minds of America’s children to make profit for a few individuals.

“This use of public schools is related to the effort to privatize public sector work in various fields throughout America: to have public monies used—not for the American people, not to respectfully employ public sector workers—but to finance private enterprises. And through it all, again, a big aim is to undo unions so workers can be paid less and the money can go instead to some private-profit-maker.”

What Ms. Reiss is writing about is a national emergency. No child, whether in Alabama, rural Maine, or the South Bronx, should have to go to bed hungry, or have their basic right to an education be a means of profit for some corporation or individual. The time is now for our nation’s leaders to be courageous and answer with honesty this urgent ethical question asked by Eli Siegel: What does a person deserve by being alive?

Classroom Expense Deduction (REPAY) Passes House

Congresswoman Led Bipartisan Fight To Pass Teachers Provision

WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that the Classroom Expense Deduction was included in a bipartisan package that passed the House today by a vote of 378-46.

“I am very happy that when teachers file their taxes next year, they’ll have this modest recognition of the financial sacrifices they make for our kids,” said Shea-Porter.

Last October, Shea-Porter introduced H.R.3318, the Reimburse Educators who Pay for Academic Year (REPAY) Supplies Act, and built an active coalition of 68 bipartisan cosponsors. Throughout 2014, she led bipartisan letters and advocacy efforts, speaking with colleagues on both sides of the aisle about the importance of extending this deduction.

Shea-Porter began her efforts in response to a letter she received from Margaret Morse-Barry, an educator from Derry, New Hampshire, who urged Shea-Porter to look into extending the expiring tax deduction.

“For teachers, educating students is much more than just a day job,” said Shea-Porter. “They come to school early, stay late, and give up their own time and money to create welcoming and engaging classroom environments. The Classroom Expense Deduction lets us put some of that money back in teachers’ pockets, mitigating the financial sacrifices they make on behalf of their students.”

Supporters of Shea-Porter’s legislation include the National Education Association (NEA), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), NEA–New Hampshire Chapter, AFT–New Hampshire Chapter, and the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.

Students Protest Canceling SRC Teachers Contracts, SRC Chairwomen Simms Tells Students “You Belong In Jail”

This is a special cross post from Sean Kitchen of the Raging Chicken Press who have been covering the anti-union activities surrounding in the Philadelphia school district.


Mother of Student Protester, “I am appalled and ashamed at the behavior of Sylvia Simms”

By Sean Kitchen

Yesterday evening, SCR Chairwoman Sylvia Simms hosted a screening of the controversial movie Won’t Back Down, an anti-union file that promotes the right-wing stereotypes of public school teachers.  At the screening, students from the Philadelphia Student Union staged a protest chanting “We wont back down, Philly is a union town.”  This is the same organization that planned last week’s student strikes at Science Leadership Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts in South Philadelphia.  At the meeting, Simms is reported yelling “You must go to a failing school…you belong in jail,” to the student protesters, but some of these students attend Philadelphia School District’s magnet school, Science Leadership Academy.  The Raging Chicken Press was able to reach out to Suzanne Anderson the mother of a SLA student striker who participated in last night’s protest.

When asked about her feelings on the School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel the teachers’ contract, she wrote:

I think canceling the teacher’s contract (essentially eviscerating the union) was illegal, immoral and clearly an effort to intentionally undercut and sabotage public education. I know it’s been done over and over again over the last 25 years, but it boggles my mind that an employer takes the position that the workers bear the responsibility to personally finance a bail out of their “company” to save their jobs. It’s profoundly manipulative because teachers aren’t just employees. They are fully invested in the mission of their work and have, sadly, internalized the propaganda of  self-sacrifice to mitigate damaging the students they are dedicated to serve. It’s perverse and unsustainable.

There has been a clear dismantling of Public Works in my lifetime. parks, utilities, transportation, education. All are things that formed the bedrock of the US middle class.  Public education seems to now be expendable. A privilege saved for those who can afford it. Teachers are villainized as lazy, incompetent and greedy. The press keeps minimizing this contract breach as “greedy teachers who don’t want to pay their fair share toward their healthcare benefits.” “It’s only $70 a paycheck.” But it’s much more than that for families that now see less coverage and a $6000 a year pay-cut with exponentially more work to do, crippling micro-management by legislators and the self-serving toxic standardized testing machine. The teacher have absolutely no recourse, under specter of losing their  livelihood with the threat of losing their teaching credentials if they strike.

Then when asked about Sylvia Simms losing her cool on public school students, she went on to say:

schoolsI am appalled and ashamed at the behavior of Sylvia Simms, and some of the other adults, at this gathering. They shamefully menaced the same school children they are sworn to protect and serve,  insulted and shamed them because they dared to challenge the authority of the SRC. They specifically denigrated and belittled my kid, who is incredibly successful, by anyone’s measure.

Both my daughters attend Science Leadership Academy, where independent, critical thinking is taught, valued and lived.  It seems like the people in charge this evening wanted the kids to walk in lock-step and went completely berserk when the kids thought for themselves, stood up for themselves. There’s a scene in that stupid movie they screened tonight where the evil UNION “tenurized” teacher engaged in very similar behavior to that of Sylvia Simms and her ilk towards my daughter and her colleagues, betraying their true character and beliefs. A teacher would lose their job for treating a student like that.  I only hope the videos taken this evening are located and released, so the truth doesn’t get twisted and distorted by the SRC and their henchmen.

Originally posted at Raging Chicken Press.

The NH Union Leader Attacks Manchester Teachers, NEA-NH Responds

250_mea45-150x150“LET US hear no more about underpaid Manchester teachers laboring without a contract.” So goes the opening statement of a recent Union Leader editorial. It goes on to admonish teachers for not willingly taking a pay cut while continuing to work as hard or harder than many would think possible. But as is often the case, whether it be in an editorial or an article, the paper skews facts in an effort to paint Manchester teachers as greedy and ungrateful when this isn’t the case.

The fact of the matter is that roughly one half of all Manchester teachers rely strictly on a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to increase their salary. Those on the schedule receive an agreed-to increase for the previous year’s service, plus the same COLA. Detractors say that this is a guaranteed raise for 14 years. It isn’t. It’s the mutual agreement made between the district and its teachers that allows for the district to slowly pay teachers what their years of schooling, training and credentialing warrant.

For those no longer receiving these steps, the proposed COLA does not meet the rate of inflation. The proposed COLA for this contract was 1 percent, while the threeyear average of the rate of inflation, on which our dastardly tax cap is based, equates to roughly 2.14 percent.

So right out of the gate teachers who have given their careers to the children and future of the city are increasing at less than half the average rate of inflation. This doesn’t even factor in the increase of insurance premiums, copays, prescriptions or deductibles.

The Union Leader likes to lump all of the numbers together. You see, it looks better for their contention that we’re sucking the city dry. We aren’t. The reality of the situation is that some plans call for a 7 percent premium, while another calls for a 14.5 percent premium. The end result of the four-year contract would have called for three different rates: 17.5 percent, 22.5 percent, or 25 percent, depending on the plan a teacher uses. About 60 percent of teachers who currently pay 7 percent would in four years pay 22.5 percent, more than tripling what they pay for their premium.

This is on top of paying four to five times more for a doctor’s visit, quadrupling ER visits, and doubling prescription costs. In the interest of full disclosure, that’s only one of our three major plans, the others have different issues and concerns, but this being the most widely used, it makes sense to focus on it.

Carrying this concept forward, a teacher on the top step of the schedule with a master’s degree would realize an increase of $674. Assuming they have a family and use the more popular plan, the increase in their insurance premium (including a one-year offset) would be $1,025.64. That’s a loss of $351, and they haven’t gone to the doctor, filled a prescription, or had an urgent care or ER visit. If their family of four averages one visit to the doctor a month, and one prescription a month, the total net loss is minimally $591. This is their thank you for dedicating their careers to the children and future of Manchester.

In year two, that same dedicated teacher would see a salary increase of $680 with an insurance increase of $1,500. Year two’s loss equals $819. Year three? They would finally see a gain, of roughly $323.73. And in year four that increase would be $88.13. Over the life of a four-year deal, that teacher would have seen an average yearly increase of $102.97 or one-tenth of a percent on their current salary. Is it greedy to think that we could do better for those who do nothing more than prepare the children of this city for their, and our, future? I don’t think it is.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture shows that there is more to the issue than just glossed-over numbers. There isn’t a problem in this city that isn’t linked to the education of our children. Conversely, there isn’t a positive outcome in this city that isn’t linked to the education of our children. As the city continues to diminish the importance of education, we must ask what it means for our tomorrow. One need only read the recent report done by the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies to see the dangerous path we’re going down. Righting the ship requires making education a priority, and that begins with respecting our teachers.

Benjamin Dick is president of the Manchester Education Association and an English teacher at Memorial High School.

AFT’s Statement On New Testing Bill In US House

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis)

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on the introduction of rep Israels accountability bill:

“The current fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the engaging, meaningful education they deserve. Testing not only is soaking up too much time and narrowing the curriculum, but is less and less a measure of what kids need to know and be able to do. Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children.

“That is why this bill allowing states to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students and teachers need to continuously improve.

“I would like to thank Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) for his leadership in recognizing the problems of excessive testing, and look forward to working with him to strengthen the bill in the next legislative session.”

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