Which will it be, pay cuts or raises?

Cranky Teacher’s post reminded me to check in on the teacher contract negotiations, and I can attest to the accuracy of his statement (not that I ever doubted it).

The school district did, earlier this month, present salary cuts and reduced “prep” time for teachers as one way to cut the budget by $23 million, said OUSD spokesman Troy Flint. And, I should note, the three-year budget projections presented last week by CFO Leon Glaster included no changes to the salary schedule.

That’s a far cry from the 20 percent raises proposed by the teacher’s union. Here’s an excerpt from bargaining update sent out to teachers late last week:

The SA team presented its proposal including these blockbusters:
• “Rolling back” salaries and possibly freezing positions on the salary schedule.
• Allowing site administrators at secondary schools the “flexibility” to assign teachers six teaching periods per day—a 20% increase in workload
• Providing elementary teachers with only one—unstaffed—prep per week, and eliminating staffed prep.

School board members appear to differ on the role they should play in these inevitably tense negotiations. President David Kakishiba says that once the board regains authority over staffing (probably in early April, when an agreement with the state superintendent is signed), it has the responsibility to “get in there and engage.”

“I don’t want the state to negotiate a third contract. That’s ridiculous,” Kakishiba said.

Noel Gallo, on the other hand, says he wants little to do with the bargaining. “For us to walk into a contentious negotiation — considering the financial condition the district is in and the budget cuts, and considering what we don’t know — would be the absolute wrong thing to do.”

Interestingly enough, union leadership — who have clamored for “local control” at every other turn — seem to want the board to stay out of it, as well.

“We are taking the approach that we’re negotiating with the state,” said Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland teacher’s union.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    I look forward to hearing how much $$ OUSD will be paying for the workers they use to teach their students… I have heard that they need to be able to offer combat pay to attract workers.

    It may occur to the Unions to start thinking where the workers will be in the event the Government adopts Wage and Price Controls in the (near) future if and when the US completely loses control of the dollar. Will the negotiated COLA and other pay hikes be implemented when Wage and Price Controls kick in? Doubt it.

    What can the Unions do to protect the workers from such an event? Negotiate backup working condition changes (more vacation?) or provide for a reopening of all negotiations (Which is what Whitney Huston’s lawyers inserted in her first record contract with Arista should she sell well – which was triggered and netted her a fortune).

    All workers need to watch this nightmare unfolding with the US economy and make careful plans. It’s about to get real interesting.

  • cranky teacher

    So, you mean my union did not pass along this disturbing development to the media? That’s not good.

    To me the talk of cutting preps was much more disturbing than even pay cuts.

    I doubt there’s ever been a moment in U.S. history where teachers were expected to do more in a one-hour prep than they are today.

    If you cut prep and colloboration time, teachers are faced with either burnout or cutting back significantly on lesson planning, meaningful feedback to students and quanity of work assigned, both of which have significant costs to education. The end result? Multiple choice scantron exams and movies every Friday…

  • detank

    One thing I started to notice when I was employed by OUSD is the trend that teachers should only be paid for time when students are in the classroom.

    This started when Ward first took over. He made his 4% pay cut happen by cutting teacher prep days.

    Prep days and prep period is needed for teachers to get their teaching organized (Lesson planning, grading, classroom/equipment/tool setup & maintenance, contacting parents, etc.)

    Without the prep time the only choice a teacher has is to either do this work when students are in the classroom, or to do it for free on their own time. (I suspect the district expects the teachers to do the latter.)

    And as Cranky Teacher stated this will result in greater teacher burnout (If an increase is possible in the OUSD.)

  • Cranky Teacher

    Detank: You are exactly right, we are expected to do tons of work on our own time IF we are to do our job well. This is not just true in OUSD — I taught in a middle-class district and they were always telling us we had to fulfill various contractual obligations, like chaperoning dances and sports events, as if we weren’t already working far beyond our contracts by taking work home.

    Of course, if you are a math teacher who has an established curriculum and doesn’t offer after-school tutoring, you might be able to do your work in the contract day. But for any teacher in their first five years, and any teacher who gives writing assignments, it is simply impossible.

    Really, the message we get from proposals like this one is: You are being paid to babysit, not to teach.

    The reality is, we spend too much time with the kids already — we need more time to colloborate and provide meaningful feedback on work, and the kids need to learn to work independently and at home, not just get Cs for showing up and hiding out in a class of 35.

    Here’s a radical proposal, as long as the district is throwing them out:

    — Cut summer in half. Six weeks is long enough.
    — Drastically shorten the school day at the middle and high-school level so students are spending less time in structured academic classes, while doing the same amount of work. For every hour of instruction, teachers should have at least a half-hour of prep, professinal/curriculum development or have them work in ….
    — … significant after-school enrichment programs. These would cost parents’ money on a steep sliding-scale. Karate, art, music, sports, wood-working, autoshop, electrical, theater, photography — help the kids find something (anything!) they are good at besides video games and smoking dope. It would be easy to find teachers for these, as it is much more fun to teach such subjects. Study hall and tutoring would also be part of after-school.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation but newer posts are being approved?

  • Katy Murphy

    Sorry, CT. The administration of this blog is a one-woman effort, and I’ve been on vacation, without computer access, the last few days! Every time someone signs in with a different screen name or e-mail address, the comment must first go through moderation. After that, the comments appear automatically (which is why others came up before yours).

  • John

    OEA says 20% teacher salary increase! The Land of Oz must send in the wizard!

  • Nextset

    The reading of the market that I am doing says a depression, not a recession, is coming and soon. Not only will there be no (real) municipal pay increases, but there will be civil service layoffs. The US Gov’t is programming massive inflation and will most likely resort to rationing and wage and price controls for various reasons. That won’t work the way they will be touted – the actual results will include unpleasant “side effects” the gov’t is well aware of and willing to incur but not admit to.

    All in all we are about to have an interesting 6 to 48 months ahead. I don’t envy the financial planners of the schools or the unions. There will be a contract. It’s in the interests of both sides to have one. The external economic pressures that may force actions in spite of a contract are the real problem.