Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Here We Go Again...

A few days ago we received an anonymous comment. We're pretty sure we know who it's from, and instead of publishing it and letting it go unnoticed, we've decided to let our readers see it. We invite our readers to respond as well–perhaps you have more to add to the conversation.

The comment is in blue, and our response is in red.

"Here is some information you should be sharing with your readers:

First, the average teacher in Yucaipa earns about $62,000 for working just 9 months, plus nearly $9,000 in health benefits that can have NO monthly premium for the entire family."
Here we go again with that ridiculous “average teacher” term. The District likes to trumpet that our “average teacher” salary is one of the highest in the area. Yes, it’s indeed about $62,000. But they’re talking about the salaries paid to teachers who have advanced degrees and who have committed their careers to Yucaipa-Calimesa. They’re talking about teachers who have the highest longevity rates of any district in southern California.

What they’re NOT talking about is our salary schedule, which is the LOWEST in southern California. (See this post below).

"This is equivalent to about a $90,000/year job if they worked the entire year like most people do."

So are you saying we should all take second jobs? Give me a break. We work our tails off from August to June, and you want to criticize us for being in a profession that still gives students time to work on the family farm.

"Also teachers only work six hours a day so the average teacher in Yucaipa earns the equivalent of about $56.00 hour."
Oh my, are you soooo wrong there. No teacher in the world has ever worked six hours a day. Oh, wait–you’re talking about student “face time.” I guess you don’t think doing lesson plans, grading papers, filling out MADD sheets, tutoring kids during lunch, giving makeup tests before and after school, calling parents, going to IEPs, watching the bike rack, sitting in faculty meetings, serving on the leadership team, creating curriculum maps, wiping runny noses, counting heads for lunch, holding back-to-school nights and open houses, filling out endless forms, and so on is work. What do you call it if it’s not work?

Let’s talk about how much a board member makes for his/her “volunteer” job. Hmm. Two meetings a month, each meeting averaging three hours, if you count closed session. $240 a month PLUS a $9000 health benefits plan (since they get the same one teachers do)–that works out to $165 an hour. That’s three times what you think WE make per hour.

"This is very high pay for a job that doesn't require a high degree of technical skills."

Technical skills? I could have gone to DeVry or ITT Technical Institute if I wanted technical skills. Instead, I went to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree, then I went to another university four more years and got a master’s degree. I also completed student teaching, along with hundreds of hours of professional development coursework just to remain qualified to be a teacher. How interesting that you need to compare teachers to other careers instead of to other teachers. Those of you in other careers think cogs and widgets are more important than students. A teacher's number one priority is the student. We therefore have a much more important responsibility - children's lives.

"Second, the union has received some significant raises--as much as 10% within the last few years!"
Really? Where are they? I guess you’re referring way back to 2000-01, when the state of California gave districts tons of new money, and we fought long and hard for 10%. But that was 7 years ago. Since then, it’s been slim pickin’s. We got COLA in 01/02, which was about
3.9%. In 02/03 we got 1% midyear. In 03/04, we got ZERO. In 04/05, we got 1.5% midyear. Add ZERO for 05-06 and 06-07. I don’t believe my colleagues would call those “significant raises.” I know I don’t.

"Third, union teachers in Yucaipa-Calimesa receive an AUTOMATIC raise -called step and column that equates to about a average 1.5-2% raise anyway EVERY YEAR."
Nope. You’re really wrong here. (And why call us “union teachers?” You throw that out like it’s a bad thing. You can thank unions for your weekends, your 40-hour work week, and the fact that your son didn’t have to go to work as a child.) Only about half of our teachers in a given year receive step and column. Over 200 teachers each year have reached a place on the salary schedule where they don’t get any kind of increase at all. And those that do have earned an increase due to their longevity (meaning commitment) or the fact that they’ve spent THOUSANDS of dollars of their own money on college coursework. Those degrees and semester hours aren’t free. The average cost of a college degree is now $20,000, and a masters’ degree takes $50,000-60,000. It’ll take me 8 years to pay off the cost of my master’s degree, and my increase in salary might then be worth the time and money.

"Add to that the 9% the district has already offered the teachers union and that totals 13%, much more than COLA."
The district has offered us 9% for a two-year period, and expects us to use about 2.5% of it to pay for the increased costs of health benefits. That will net us a whopping 6.5% increase to our salaries.

Compare this to Colton, who recently settled for a 14% increase over three years, PLUS no change to their health benefits. They’re not being asked to pay for their own step and column, or for health benefits increases – no, their board finally realized they needed to come up with a fair settlement. So they did.

Compare this to Banning, who recently settled for 9% for this year and next, on top of 4.2% they got for last year – PLUS an additional 2% added to health benefits to keep them covered. Their total comp package for three years is 15.2%.

Compare this to Riverside, who settled for a 6.6% raise for 2006-07 (fully retro), on top of last year’s 4.23% increase. They also compressed their salary schedule, eliminating the first four columns! One more thing – they increased the rate for buy-backs to $292, while YCJUSD continues to pay a measly $25 an hour.

And we’re supposed to think the district’s offer is fair? You really DO think we’re stupid, don’t you? Why do you even TRY to pretend to respect us? Oh, that’s right. You don’t even pretend.

There you have it. Anyone care to add their own comments?

573 Days Without a Settlement!


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the author of this anonymous comment would be thinking any higher of teachers if the Yucaipa teachers did a TOTAL WITHDRAWL of extra services (tutoring, interventions, clubs, sports, etc.) until a fair settlement was reached. He or she obviously doesn't recognize that it is the extra time Yucaipa-Calimesa teachers give their students and school that make the school board and administration look good.

Stunned said...

Excellent response Yucaipa Teacher, thank you for sticking up for all of us. How sad it is that we have to stick up for ourselves in this way. Perhaps if the Board members spent more time learning what teachers do, they would understand the high level of training my job requires. I guess when the Board toured my classroom and then commented on how wonderful it was to be there and how well behaved my students were, they assumed anyone could do that. They assumed wrong! I do that because I've been doing this for a long time. My knowledge of my subject matter is outstanding so I can now focus on each child as an individual. You make me sick YCJUSD, I have dedicated my life to the students of Yucaipa whom I love. Let's just say I feel differently about the Board.

Anonymous said...

Heard this before, somewhere else, seems to me that this misinformation is circulating again. I hope the author can get their facts right the next time they try to "set the record straight". I haven't seen a step raise in FOUR years and the last column raise cost ME several thousand dollars in tuition and fees cost. To all you young folks out there, look toward your future, don't get stuck in a district that no longer cares about retaining their teachers and the quality and consistency they bring to their programs.

Appalled said...

I excellent response. I find it interesting that the submitted point of view is so disrespectful of teachers (somehow seems to not be written by a think?). Not a technical job? We'll see how many of them are adequate to jump into (read: NCLB compliant) those empty classrooms that will confront them in the fall. Furthermore, the last time I checked, teachers were paid a professional salary, for a job completed competently, not an hourly wage.

The average teacher myth? Yet another example of the board and district taking credit for something which they had no role in. They are LUCKY to have such an experienced and educated work force, but it is that way in SPITE of them, not because of them.

It is laughable in the extreme the mathematical lengths they will go to to convince us that their insulting offer is fair.

Surprised? Not Me! said...

I am neither appalled nor stunned. A district that shows such utter contempt for its employees could not harbor any thoughts other than these. So, it's either them or me. Probably, it's me, leaving with my five state credentials, subject area Master's, Outstanding Teacher award, and seventeen years in the classroom. Since the Board obviously has no concept of fairness, perhaps they can at least understand a lesson in economics. Good luck finding a replacement at the wages this district is willing to pay!

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the author of this "information" never graduated from college, but they probably know the difference between a llama and an alpaca! Or maybe they know a real estate developer who might (might) build a road to our new school some day?

Anonymous said...

Are we going to be taking this battle to the media in a more demonstrable way? I think this blog is awesome, but is anyone else reading this? Is this just preaching to the choir? I think we need to continue focussing on educating our citizens and parents! I hope this battle continues until the next election.

They clearly don't think about teachers, I wonder if they care about the voters and parents. You'd think they should given all that they should be accountable for (ie: schools with no roads, quietly swept under the linoleum, voting themselves raises when the have no collective bargaining agreement, accepting a health care package for free that they want us to pay for) that they would be more sensitive to their reputations. Three should be particularly sensitive to this, given that the only reason that three of them were elected at all has to do with the support of YCEA.

Makes one think that we need to be more selective next time when endorsing candidates, given that we've endorsed all five of the present members of the board. Hindsight is 20/20....heads up to the four...fool us know the rest.

While I'm thinking of it, is there any way to approach the county regarding their decision to delay re-election votes?

Common Sense said...

The glaring omission in the author's comments is why teachers in EVERY one of our comparison districts is paid more than us in Yucaipa. The gripes about lazy know-nothing teachers is an old one- largely perpetuated by people who spent little time in a classroom as a student, let alone as a teacher. If teaching is so easy, and teachers are so overpaid for what they do, THEN PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THERE IS SUCH A SHORTAGE OF HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS IN EVERY STATE IN THE NATION!

Anonymous said...

I've been in this district for over twenty years and this has to be the worst group of school board officials we have had to deal with. The anonymous letter(even though we do know who sent it) is just typical of the contempt and lack of appreciation for what we the teachers do for this district. It is the teachers that make this district look good. We come to work everyday wanting to do our students justice and we take pride in our work. Too bad our board members don't have the same standards we do. As a baby boomer I am looking forward to retirement and I will also move from this city as I do not want my taxes to go to a district that is so unappreciative and supportive of a great group of teachers. All you young teachers - believe us when we say that you need to leave this district and go to one who knows how to treat teachers appropriately.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is tragic that a city that strives to be upwardly mobile seems to be taking so long to clue into the bubble getting ready to burst here. By the time the wealthy young parents/voters notice the travesty that is occurring here, it will be too late to avoid a total bottoming out. This is particularly true when we are now delayed in voting out these irresponsible, self-serving, lying, thieving, hypocritical elected officials.

Anyone agree with me that this district is all about covering their butts. Look at the last professional growth booklet. Notice how half of the entries were closed to most teachers (I mean really....Math Task Force, Mandatory BTSA trainings....what a crock), look at the meetings that are called with the only purpose being to be able to put on paper that someone met.

I'm so sick of it. I sat down and plotted my future salary (I'm a middle years person) and I was very sad to see that I now can't afford to leave with the years I will lose.

Young teachers, get out. People with less than 10 years, get out. Do yourself a favor.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...So now I don't have technical skills? I wonder what kind of technical skill it requires to have the foresight to build a road to a school? I wonder if, perhaps, it would take an engineer to think and plan that far ahead?

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a survey done by the Press Enterprise in mid-February regarding our situation. I think it might be useful for it to make it's way into the hands or heads of our school district and board.

Anonymous said...

the last two letters in the above url should have been =pe, I guess they were clipped off some how. Again, not a large sample size, but an interesting conformity of opinion.

DoTheMath said...

I wish the District would pay me like the babysitter they think I am:
1.) I pay $5.00 per hour to my babysitter for one child.
2.) $5.00/hour X 32 kids = $160/hr
3.) $160/hr X 6.5 hours/day = $1040/day
4.) $1040/day X 185 days =
$192,400 PER YEAR! SHOOT, I'LL EVEN PAY FOR MY OWN HEALTH BENEFITS AT THAT WAGE! And I still would only make 25% of what our District' legal counsel charges per hour. I'm sure that is what the voters wanted when they put our Board in office.

Anonymous said...

keep up the pressure. Your retirement means that you need to worry about today - the now. Attend the meeting Tuesday evneing.

Anonymous said...

This anonymous poster sounds like the same board member who acted without any sort of professionalism at Tuesday's board meeting. Wasn't her mom a teacher and a YCEA president? She needs to do the right thing and RESIGN.