Cumberland Valley Teachers are “Unreasonable”
Let’s be fair here. Teachers deserve more pay. Okay. Here in the Cumberland Valley School District, The school board made several reasonable (and some would say, beyond reasonable) offers. Higher than COLA pay raises. Lower than average health care costs with better than average benefits. Making the pay raises retroactive. The School Board seems to know the meaning of the word “negotiate.”
What have the teachers offered as compromise? From all reports, the teachers’ union has simply dug in their heels, and tried to convince the populace that the school board is failing to give them a pay raise.
Who wins, and who loses on a strike?
Teachers think they will win, obviously. They have nothing to lose. They strike, they come back and teach, and even if they now accept the latest offer they get their full 9 months of pay (with a bonus check–remember the retroactive bit?)
The school board may or may not meet the (un-reported) demands of the teacher’s union. But regardless, the school board doesn’t “lose” anything.
The students. They lose, because they have a loss of continuity in their education plan. They lose because for months now, teachers have been fostering a “hostile learning environment” keeping the students (and parents) wondering if, in 48 hours, there would be a strike. On top of that, at least one teacher told his students that, if there was a strike, he would be sending a “work packet” home for them to complete during the strike. In addition, they lose because any plans they may have had for a summer (including summer jobs, to help them earn money for, among other things, college) have to be adjusted.
The parents: For those parents of young children that work, there will be an increased cost either through lost wages, or increased childcare costs. What about those parents that can’t afford the additional costs of childcare? Well–they can just stay home from work, right? So for a few, the choice is either pay for more childcare, or lose income. Additionally, parents may have had plans for summer “break.” Imagine a job where you have to request time off for vacation, and schedule it in advance. You know those jobs–the ones where you work 12 months a year?
The taxpayers: Regardless of the final outcome, it is guaranteed that taxpayers will be paying teachers more money to teach. This is a burden that taxpayers are willing to reasonably carry to provide a good education for the children in the community. I suspect though that taxpayers are keenly aware of what is reasonable, and what is unreasonable. It would seem to me at least that unreasonable is a teachers’ union that fails to negotiate. Of course, a “double whammy” exists for the parents, here. They have the burden of increased child-care costs, only to be rewarded with an (undoubtedly) increased tax burden.
One final thought: The teachers don’t “lose” anything here. There is no cost to them for striking. In most strikes, the unions have to balance the near-term lost wages with the long term gains. They must also consider the lost good-will with their customers who may well choose to go elsewhere with their shopping dollars. In this case, students are required, by law, to attend school. The teachers will come back and teach the remaining class days–and get paid for a full year (did I mention the “bonus check” due to retroactive pay?) The teachers essentially get to hold everyone (especially students) hostage–to achieve not a “fair” contract, but one that is “over the top.”
The Teachers Union. Unreasonable. Uncompromising. Unsupportable.
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The law that says they can only strike for 5 days, but, how often is that actually enforced? I know Huber Heights was on strike for at least two weeks a few years ago. While that is Ohio, I dont know how different the laws are. There have been some instances in PA where the strikes have lasted longer than two weeks. A friend told me that she heard it is the strike can’t go past THIRTY school days!
“Teachers Need To Be Paid More.”
As an educator myself, married to an elementary school teacher, I say “Huzzah!”
As a free-market libertarian, I say “Bogus!”
If market forces were allowed to work, maybe teachers would be paid less. Maybe they would be paid more. Maybe they would be paid less until there was a shortage of teachers, adn then they would be paid more.
We just don’t know what the “True” value of teacher’s pay should be.
As long as The State (aka Leviathan) has a monopoly on Capital (the schools and management) and the Unions have a monopoly on Labor (the teachers), we will continue to get the K-12 system we deserve . . .
The Other Steve
(p.s. my wife worked as a non-union member in a non right-to-work state for years. She did not become any more of a fan of the union during her experience. The “fair share” [sic] amount extorted out of her paycheck to support “collective bargaining only” [yeah, right!] did not entitle her to *any* benefits at all . . . including payments out of the strike fund when her colleagues needed a break. So let me get this straight- the state took money out of her paycheck to give to the union, specifically for stuff like the strike fund; and yet she was just as specifically not eligible to collect the strike fund payments?!?)
It’s interesting, although not surprising, that the media and many people unassociated with Cumberland Valley are content to consider only the school board’s version of events. There are, in fact, “two sides”, and the board is not above skewing the facts in their favor. First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: I am a former public school teacher and married to a CV teacher. I am also a parent in the community. Ignorant people consider only one side. For one example, the board retracted their retroactive pay offer in one of their own “heel digging” moments. That fact has conveniently not been brought to light. In addition, there is no expected tax increase as a result of the union’s proposal. They are asking for a small percentage of the $23 million surplus in the budget. Sadly, school boards are so often comprised of non-teachers and those who have no knowledge or experience in a public school setting. I would argue that it is the school board who could be called “greedy”. I have worked many jobs and can say that many workers (not all, mind you) in the private sector are spoiled and petty. Most educators with whom I have worked over the course of 14 years may not always be likeable, but they learn to work together for the good of the students. They have to. They have to work with the ever-increasing parent demands and unrealistic expectations. The “I have an excuse for everything” mentality is outrageously far-reaching among parents and students. Most teachers I know feel as though they are spinning their wheels when trying to encourage responsibility within their students because parents quite often negate their efforts. Yes, of course there are always budgetary concerns and that is not going to change. But, if only for a moment, let’s consider the schools as centers of education of the most valuable resources we have – our children – rather than a business. When you compare teachers’ work to the work of almost anyone else, you just aren’t getting it. I now sit in a cubical much of the time in my current job and although I like most of what I do, it took me a long time to adapt to working with the professionally immature “adult children” around me. I truly miss working with kids. But for me, after 14 years, it no longer became worth the stress involved with the imbalance of parental support and the “wheel spinning” feeling that my efforts to teach children were in vain. The rush that comes when students are really “getting it”… well, those moments became fewer and farther between for me. I am constantly in awe of how many wonderful, engaging, truly dedicated teachers continue to do this job when our society has all but done away with the reverence that used to be granted those who do an outstanding job teaching our children. I have no doubt that most of you joining in the teacher-bashing would not last a week as an educator in any public school in America. If nothing else, become informed and consider all the details that might be omitted from the information presented to you in a minute-long piece on the news or a few paragraphs in print. And if you truly believe that most teachers really don’t do any work over the summer months, you really, honestly and truly, do not get it at all. You may not change your opinion, but become informed. Get to know a teacher.
Kay: Thanks for your comment, and welcome to my blog!
I hope you realize that I have done more than simply read a couple paragraphs in the local newspaper. I attended the “big” meeting held last month by the school board, and listened intently as I heard teacher after teacher (and supporter after supporter) fail miserably to understand the math involved.
They consistently talked about “losing money” when comparing the increasing health care costs with the increase in pay. More than one mentioned that health care premiums would go up $1900 (in reality, it is “go up to roughly $1900” which is an increase of $1100.) They then argued that, since pay would on average only go up “about” $1900 they would lose money-failing to comprehend that the pay raises are compounded, while the increasing premiums are not.
I have looked. I have found many criticisms of the school board’s proposals. I have not found what the teacher’s union was bringing to the table.
Feel free to defend the counter-proposals made by the teacher’s union. In fact, I would appreciate it if you would actually point all of us to them. I know I, for one, would love to read them.
You state that the original post was very one sided. As evidence of the one-sided nature of the post, you provide the following additional information:
“the board retracted their retroactive pay offer ”
“there is no expected tax increase”
Was there more information that was originally omitted that I missed? Was there any incorrect – or even misleading – information that needs correction or clarification?
Just want to make sure I have all the facts- both sides of the story as it were before reaching any conclusions about the particulars of the Cumberland Valley dispute. I have my own experiences with similar disputes in similar situations, and don’t want to make the mistake of “filling in the blanks” of the current situation with my own past experiences.
the other steve
Hello, gentleman. I, for one, appreciate your open-mindedness to obtain facts. I’d like to guide you to the teachers’ website (www.cvteachers.org) if you haven’t been there already. Once you’ve read the information there, you will surely note some disparities between that and the information given by the school board.
As I have a sort of “inside track”, I believe the school board’s information to be, at best, skewed and manipulated. The teachers have seen first-hand the ugliness of some of the school board members. That is not the face they put on for the public and the press.
And before our children’s teachers have to hear one more time that they “only work 191 days a year” or “have 3 months summer vacation”, we owe them the courtesy (have we lost that in today’s society?) of reviewing their information as well. Many, I’m certain, will find it a case of “he said, she said”.
Any real critics are welcome to sign up for a week as a teacher’s assistant to experience their dedication and worth up close and personal. It’s a shame the school board members aren’t willing to step up. Methinks some newfound respect might be born. (We can’t have that, can we? Let the ignorance shine on!)
Teachers have to develop thick skins, but they are human. (Contrary to what children might think.) I firmly believe that no one has the right to disparage or criticize without first having walked the proverbial mile. Do we so hotly contest our police officers? Our firefighters? One may argue that they encounter life-or-death situations daily. That is certainly true. I would counter with the notion that we are placing our greatest resource – our children – in the hands of dedicated professionals for many, many, many hours. The hours (days, really) away from their students that are spent in preparation for engaging and wonderful lessons are countless. I maintain that their working without a contract (again) in good faith all these months and doing what they feel they need to for something they believe may be the greatest lesson they could offer their students. Unfortunately, many in the community will overshadow that with name-calling and foul remarks.
Here’s to a quick resolution with a minimal amount of ruffled feathers. May cool heads prevail. Thanks for allowing me to speak my piece, gentlemen.