A tax for Oakland teachers: Take 2?

Tribune file photo by Laura A. Oda

Ever since a parcel tax for Oakland teachers fell flat without the support of the local teachers union, a committee has been meeting to try again, this time with a broader support base. There’s been talk of placing a tax measure on the June 2010 ballot.

And once again, talks about ways to boost teacher salaries in the midst of ongoing state budget cuts — and tense contract negotiations — have run right into a teachers union sticking point: whether any of the money raised by local property taxes should go to the city’s 30-some independently run, non-unionionized, public charter schools.

No way, the union says, even if most of the money would go to its own members.

In fact, the Oakland Education Association’s leadership recently passed a resolution, which they presented to the committee: It stated that “we would not participate in any parcel tax coalition that advocated giving money to charter schools,”  said union president Betty Olson-Jones, who has served on the committee.

Olson-Jones said she polled her membership before voting on the anti-charter resolution, and that 70 percent of those who responded backed it. She wouldn’t say how many teachers participated in the poll, which was distributed in an e-mail blast, but she said it was “a good sampling.” She said she had personal e-mail addresses for about two-thirds of her members.

“I know this is a possibility of getting a raise for teachers, but at what cost?” Olson-Jones said.

It remains to be seen how OEA’s stance will shape the language of the measure — or whether a tax would pass without union backing.  Do you think the measure should include charter schools? If it does, do you think the union should set aside its principles on charters to support an effort that could result in better pay for its members (and, maybe, help to avert a strike)?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Chris Vernon

    If the tax is to augment the salaries of charter school teachers, that’s quite different from supplementing the operating budgets of charter schools, and not a problem. However, if the measure benefits charter schools (separate from teacher salaries) than it should also benefit the traditional OUSD schools in the same way. There should be no linkage of back door funding of charters in order to adequately fund district teacher salaries.

  • Maybe I don’t get it…

    But what is so bad with charter schools?
    From my understanding of this property tax all of the money raised would go to augment all teacher salaries. Isn’t that a good thing whether they are at charter schools or not?

  • Harold

    We have a union (OEA). The charter schools don’t. We will fight for Union representation – at every site. Those who toil without “protection”, get whatever crumbs the bosses offer.

    Union busting through Chartes schools, will not work, and will definitely not be supported by the (OEA).

  • Local teacher

    Harold –

    The teachers at the charter schools CHOSE to work in a school and position that is not affiliated with a union. This was no secret – it was a choice that they made. In many cases, they made this choice knowing that they also will be paid higher wages, be required to work longer hours, and may get better benefits.

    If that’s the case, why is “protection” needed?

  • UnionSupporter-But

    I have been on the blog before. I generally support the teacher union, however we have a few teachers in Oakland who use the teacher union against fellow union members. Schools who have teachers who consistently come in early and stay late because of choice, because they CHOOSE to spend more time with students and who have shown that the extra work time with those students makes a difference in what the students learn AND the test scores they earn are bullied. There’s no polite way to put it – they are bullied.

    Union teachers for the most part do not want fellow union members to work longer hours. Yet, that is exactly what the unions has fought for – the right to have reasonable time off to use as a person chooses.

    What I think a lot of charter school teachers have said is that they recognize that there is a group of students that NEED a longer day of instruction and NEED more time to learn the material.

    What we need as a union-represented school district is to recognize that teachers should behave and be treated as professionals not clock-punchers and in being treated as professionals they have a responsiblity to teach so that the material is learned by the student. Teachers who CHOOSE to spend their earned free time at school should be able to do so without intimidation, pressure or bullying.

  • Steven Weinberg

    The district’s debt to the state was incurred when nearly all Oakland public school students were in OUSD schools and very few in charters. As more students move to charters, their share of the debt is left for the students who remain. Unless Oakland charters agree to paying a proportional cost to pay off the debt, they should not receive parcel tax funds.

  • Reality Check

    Steven Weinberg, student aren’t just moving to (Oakland) charter schools. Families are moving out of Oakland.

  • Gordon Danning

    Union Supporter But: What schools are you referring to? I have never witnessed any bullying or resentment towards teachers who stay late, but if you have, you should name the school, because those who engage in that sort of activity should be exposed.

  • Jessica Stewart

    My gut says that the average OUSD teacher would say (most likely even if they did not love charters), “I’d rather have a raise than have no raise just to spite/exclude the charter schools.” If we want to keep OUSD teachers around when the work is challenging and the districts around us offer higher salaries, we can’t turn down this chance to give more funds to our teachers.

  • Union Supporter-But

    Fruitvale Elementary – one teacher opens classroom to all interested students at 7 and stays until 4. Principal stepped in and took care of the problem . . . but teachers are still resentful, spiteful, exclusive and mean.

    The teacher I’ve talked to say it’s unfair that one teacher consistently educates the students in that class because of the extra time put in. They shouldn’t be compared in the same way.

    Also, it would be interesting to have a discussion about the findings in the new book Superfreakeconomics. There is a whole discussion about school teachers. Teachers of the past from teachers now, IQ of teachers and the performance of students based on teachers IQ. It’s a whole additional conversation.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Reality, you are correct that families are moving out of Oakland, but since 2004 58% of OUSD’s loss of enrollment has been students going to charter schools. See the Lapkoof and Gobalet Demographic Research Inc. report (June 18, 2007) which is available on the web.

  • John Roberts

    As a tax payer:

    We already pay taxes to support our public schools. Now the latest great education tool “charter schools” want us to pay another tax. We are tired of being taxed to solve problems to which specific issues have not been completely disclosed. Oakland tries to overload its citizens with too many taxes, fee, bond repayments, payments for districts, etc. With all these payments, along with hundreds of dollars being paid out for “what if” insurances and mortgages, how are people to survive?

  • Let’s Get Real

    I have mixed feelings about the issue of the tax, so I’ll bow our of that part of the discussion, but I wanted to address comment #5 from Union Supporter-But.

    I’m a teacher who, in spite of my efforts to the contrary, tends to stay late after school–mainly to prepare for the next day. I have tutored after school, but I’ve usually been compensated for it.

    I understand why there is pressure (although it should never reach the level of bullying) for teachers not to work beyond our contract hours–especially during a year of contract negotiations. If we continue to do so, it makes it easy for the administration to surmise, why bother to pay more for extra time when teachers will do it for free? Why bother to pay for staffed prep time if teachers will work for free beyond their contract hours? School administrators constantly take advantage of teachers’ concerns about their students.

    In addition to being willing to sacrifice our time in order to help our students achieve, we also have to think about the other ways we can ensure a successful future for them. Do we want teaching to remain among the most underpaid professions, or do we want to demand for ourselves and future generations that education be adequately funded? And do we want only those students whose teachers are willing to tutor them for free to receive extra help, or do we want all students to receive the extra help they need?

    Yes, we are serving a student population that needs lots of support in many areas. And our state, local, and federal government should be utilizing our tax dollars effectively in addressing those issues by paying for additional resources and compensating us for extended days–not expecting us to take up the slack for free!

  • David

    What a joke. You call working from 7-4 (with a lunch break) a hardship? When you get summers etc off? AND you still make 40, 50, 60K/year (plus pensions and health care no one in the private sector gets)? AND when the jobs you do (look at OUSD test scores) are sub-par?

    No more of my money. Period. Try to do your job first, and actually teach kids to read, write and even do simple math. Then come back and ask for a raise. That’s how it works in the real world. You don’t do your job well, you’re fired, never mind a raise.

  • UnionSupporter-But

    Let’s Get Real:

    Let’s suppose for a minute that your wage just increased to $110,000 per year. You’re a professional.

    Now let’s suppose I am a professional; I’m a surgeon. I am removing an appendix and while I am in the middle of the surgery I find out it ruptured. The surgery that is supposed to take 45 minutes take 4 hours and 45 minutes. I don’t just wrap up at the 45 minute mark because time’s up. I get paid the same amount of money for an appendix surgery that lasts 45 minutes as I do for one that lasts 4 hours and 45 minutes.

    Now, let’s use your $110,000 per year example. Would you be willing to take whatever time it took to make sure that every student in your class learns the content standards to a proficient level every year regardless of how long it took each day? So, if you had to work 10 months a year, eight hours per day with students and prep afterward, would you do it for the money?

    I don’t really believe it is about the money. I believe it’s about the teaching. I know several parents who would gladly kick in $2,100 per year to give you that salary ($45,000 per year from the district $2,100 from 32 parents) to ensure that their students learned the grade level curriculum deeply, that they had the art, music, PE, science, social studies, language arts, literature circles and math at the state standards level FOR EVERY CHILD IN THE CLASSROOM. I even know of parents who would work to earn the money for the parents who couldn’t pay just to make sure that every child in the classroom was learning at the standard.

    So Let’s Get Real, would you stay as long as it took, for the money of course, would you make sure that every student learned something every day and that every student ended the year with a STAR test that demonstrated proficiency and that every student met or exceed the state standards in every subject? Would you?

  • Chauncey

    Im with David. The problem with the union is that they aligned teachers to the “workers cause”. Teaching used to be a professional position such as accountants when I grew up. Now- they fight the power.

    Thats your union. Viva la causa right?!

  • http://www.gopublicschools.org Hae-Sin Thomas

    I’m wondering whether the membership of the Oakland Education Association knows that their leadership just walked away from a diverse community coalition that has been meeting for 10 months with the goal of increasing Oakland teacher salaries by thousands of dollars each year.

    The Oakland Education Association leadership said it would no longer participate because of an ideological inflexibility toward charter schools.

    Is this in the best interest of Oakland teachers and students?

    The current starting salary for a credentialed teacher in Oakland is about $39,000. The same starting salary in San Francisco is $47,000. Other Bay Area districts are also well above OUSD in terms of compensation.

    OUSD has already cut $70 million over the past two years and has more significant cuts to make for next year.

    The harsh reality is that Oakland teachers have not had a raise in 5 years. The only way that teachers are going to get a significant raise any time soon is through a parcel tax.

    The current thinking within the coalition is that a new parcel tax could bring in $20 – $25 million in new funding for teacher salaries so that Oakland can compete for the best teachers for our students.

    Charter public schools serve about 17% of students in the district and serve a higher percentage of low-income students and English Language Learners than district schools.

    If 17% of the new revenue went to charter teachers and 83% went to district teachers, OUSD would receive $16 – $20 million more for OUSD teachers.

    Do OUSD teachers know and understand that the OEA leadership is unwilling to support a parcel tax that could increase their members’ salaries so significantly?

    I was teacher in OUSD for 6 years and a member of OEA, and my sense is that most teachers are much more pragmatic than the ideologically driven OEA leadership and that they would want all Oakland teachers and students to benefit from the parcel tax.

    At the end of the day, all our teachers need to be well compensated for their service to our children and youth, and all our students need excellent teachers.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com Sharon

    Charter school teachers are afforded “herd protection” by the OEA. Those teachers can thank their salary and ANY current benefits that they currently receive on the existence and efforts of unions. To me, the “herd protection” idea is central for arguments about why this set of teachers don’t deserve parcel tax money, and why only union members do. Let them join the union, and then they can get the benefits, too.

    Charter school teachers chose to work in a setting without union protections. They didn’t take the charter jobs by default (ie. because OUSD positions were full); they forwent working at settings with better benefits for personal reasons tied to their own ideology. Solidarity with their brethren in the established community of teachers is of absolutely no importance to them. They are independent contractors, so let them fend for themselves.

    It needs to be highlighted more and more that the charters don’t deal with the same population of kids. They don’t reciprocate with the district for taking expelled kids. They don’t share the burden by taking their share of the more difficult-to-educate kids (students w/disabilities). The set of families who enters charters are a self-selected, more compliant bunch. The charter school teachers have it much easier than those at the traditional public schools.

    And speaking of the benefits that charters have, they get a ton of outside money. Read the latest about Jerry’s charters at http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/026164.html.

    If the charters are crying poor, just challenge them to reveal all their extra funding, and expose all the extras they are constantly getting from the pro-charter forces. This goes for support for CMO website maintenance and general marketing costs, to administrative assistance, and to all kinds of other extras.

  • Let’s Get Real

    US-B, do I detect a tone of hostility in your response? I certainly was not attacking you for your willingness to spend extra time helping your students without being compensated for it. You are not alone. Many teachers do so, and I have done it myself in the past. Now I structure my day and my resources to assist my students who need extra support during the course of the school day.

    The $110,000/year salary is your example, not mine. I have not really tried to define what teaching in Oakland is worth these days, although I think it is worth more that what teachers receive at this time. I do know it is unfair in any profession (surgeons included) to expect someone to consistently do extra work and not be compensated for it. This is especially true in education when, if funds were spent more effectively and wisely, all students in need would receive the support they need to be successful, and there would still be money left to justly compensate teachers for their work.

    I’m curious, US-B. I assume you are taking a salary from OUSD for your work. If it’s all about the teaching, why not refuse a salary and donate your services?

  • Gail

    I’m curious what the decision-making process was by the “diverse community coalition” referenced in comment #17. I know they distributed an online survey asking whether respondents would support a tax going to support charter teacher salaries. How many responses came in and what were they? And how broad was the pool?
    Why is the OEA (with which I have many disagreements, by the way) “ideologically inflexible” for wanting parcel tax funds to go solely to public schools, but insisting that parcel tax funds should be directed as well to charter schools is NOT “ideologically inflexible”? I’d say flexibility is in the eye of the beholder.
    The playing field between the two types of schools is not level. Until charter schools have the same responsibilities as public schools, and public schools have the same rights as charter schools, I don’t want my tax dollars going to support publicly-funded private schools, aka charter schools.

  • Union Supporter-But

    Let’s Get Real: I do not work for the district. I have a full time job for a company. I volunteer in this particular school and since I work full time I can only volunteer before school. I wanted to work with students, but no other teachers or schools I approached consistantly have a teacher at school and open to students who need extra help.

    I am doing this because I care about students’ learning. I would like to let you know that for the salary I earn per year and the number of hours I work per year I make less per hour worked than a teacher who works full time and “volunteers” one hour a day four days a week. This is with the same or higher level of education than that of teachers.

    It’s about making sure students get an education. It’s about making sure that classrooms are open early to provide safe havens for students. It’s about learning without requiring a clock be punched. And because I work in the business world during the day I can only help in the mornings if I want help students in the classroom. I can help with school gardens if I work on Saturday, but I am more effective helping with the learning.

  • Union Supporter-But

    Let’s Get Real:

    Although I answered your question, you never answered mine. If you were paid $110,000 per year would you be willing to work the number of hours it took to make sure that every student in your class met all of the state standards and scored proficient on her or his STAR test?

  • TheTruthHurts

    Wow. I’m always amazed at the amount of discussion that comes from a discussion of charters. I’m also amazed that we don’t ask PARENTS and STUDENTS how they feel about charters. Where do they want us to put our money as a community? Do they care about all this “noise” about different types of FREE schools for their kids? Or, do they care about safety, proximity and EDUCATION? I don’t know the answer, but oh, wait, that’s what a vote is for in the first place.

    PARENTS have been voting with their feet and that has to be worth something. Whatever OUSD has been doing, it hasn’t been good enough to stop parents from going to charters.

    It makes me think of Walmart. Love them or hate them, plenty of people shop there. The city of Oakland waited FOREVER to allow big box merchants. Almost lost all of auto row and was losing all retail. Begrudgingly, there’s a Walmart now. Is it better than the mom & pops in town? Probably not. Quality goods? Probably not. Good labor practices? Probably not. Yet we shop there, we are employed there and they generate significant tax revenue for the city directly and from the businesses in that development.

    Why did we do it. COMPETITION. It’s real folks and it’s here to stay. Yet if our city government had it’s way, we’d still be putting all our effort into keeping Sears. Sometimes, I think OUSD is like Sears. Too big to die, too outdated to succeed. I don’t like to say that, but that’s how I feel sometimes.

    Maybe charters are like Walmart and we should be wary of them. Nevertheless, parents want to shop there and in the end, that’s what will matter anyway.

  • Caroline

    TruthHurts, charters ARE very much like Walmart, a point I’ve made in the past as a charter critic, so it’s interesting to see an apparent charter supporter use the same analogy.

    The similarity is that yes, people do want to patronize them, but they have a very significant negative impact on the community around them. Walmarts destroy communities and downtowns; charter schools damage and could eventually destroy public schools and communities. If we judge them only based on the fact that people in the immediate short term want to patronize them, we’re being very shortsighted. (I recently drove from California to Ohio, so I saw the Walmart phenomenon close-up — the huge stores busy with shoppers and the crumbling nearby downtowns.

    By the way, don’t miss Sharon’s excellent, detailed posts on Jerry Brown’s charter schools, Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute:


  • cranky teacher

    Again, I am struck that folks expect a union to represent all of society. It is an association with an explicit purpose: Protect its members.

    Yes, individual teachers want to help the students, and some of us don’t rule out the possibility charters have something to offer the community at large. But it is not our UNION’s job to look after students and the community at large.

    Hae-Sin Thomas’ remarks jumped out at me as representing a strain of younter educators, many of them from Teach for America and other similar programs, who think of unions as an industrial revolution hangover which protects “burnt-out” dinosaurs. Problem with them is that, like Thomas, most of them are actually not going to be teachers for more than 3-7 years before they move on to bigger things — PhDs, nonprofits, administration, law school, etc. For these young, workaholic types, mundanities like pensions, health care and an evaluation process that protects the rights of teachers are completely irrelevent.

  • UnionSupporter-But

    Cranky Teacher: I just spent another hour volunteering in a classroom with a teacher who opened doors early. As I was walking out the door at 8:23 to come to work, three teachers were arriving to be there when school starts at 8:30. Perhaps they prepared their classrooms for the new day yesterday afternoon, perhaps they didn’t.

    How many “professionals” do you know that have clients (yes, students are clients who “buy” an education through parent and community taxes) arrive for their appoints and open the door just as the client is arriving for an appointment?

    Most professionals I know arrive at least 15 minutes before their clients to review the information for that client, to review the daily schedule and to set the tone for the day. Even those professionals who have been in the business world for 15, 20, 25 years, who are not workaholics arrive before the client day after day to be prepared to serve the client BEFORE they arrive. The teacher “professionals” I passed this morning did not have the professional work habits one would expect of a true professional.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Please don’t judge the amount of preparation a teacher does based on when he or she arrives at work. In my 30 classroom years I rarely came to school early. For many of those years I was driving my own children to school and was on a very tight schedule, but I spent hours of time at home each night preparing thoroughly.

  • UnionSupporter-But

    Steven: I was not judging the prep by the time. I was stating that a professional arrives before their clients. By this I mean if you went to the dentist you would expect the dentist to be there before you to put on the white coat, to have a look at your chart and to be ready to meet your needs. If you were sitting in the waiting room at your appointed time and the dentist sauntered in carrying his foamy latte while you were waiting, perhaps not you, but the majority of us would probably consider it disrespectful of our time.

    The same should be true of teachers and their student clients.

  • cranky teacher

    UnionSupport-But: You don’t know what you are talking about, as Steven points out.

    Here is a typical experience for a teacher: I spent four hours one Sunday at a local cafe, grading and prepping. At one point I looked up in the room and noticed that a lot of others were grading as well.

    “Is *everybody* in here a teacher?!” I asked out loud.

    Turned out everybody was! From kindergarten to high school to junior college to UC, the room had nine or ten teachers devoting their the bulk of their Sunday, unpaid, to their teaching.

    Now, of course you can find teachers who do the exact minimum — there are slackers in every field. Yet the teachers I know do far more than is specified by their contract.

    Furthermore, actually teaching the students is incredibly exhausting, especially in the first few years before you solidify your curriculum. But even a veteran can be thrown, hard, by a particularly difficult class or even a single deeply disturbed student. You should never compare working in an office for 8 hours with teaching — before teaching I did a number of different jobs, some of them considered quite stressful, and none of it compared to the “being on” demands of teaching 30 young people hour after hour.

  • Gordon Danning

    Cranky Teacher:

    You note that, “it is not our UNION’s job to look after students and the community at large.” That might be true of unions in the private sector, but teachers are not in the private sector. Any rules that are negotiated by our union have an effect on the public/society. So, those effects should be taken into account by all parties, and a balance should be struck among the interests of admin, teachers, AND students and society.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Re: #25 Cranky Teacher- This is such an important point about people’s perspectives of the union varies wildly depending on whether they are there for the long haul. I too see these most impressive energetic TFA, Teaching Fellows, etc come in with all sorts of preconceived ideas about teaching. They come from all over the country, many of them from ivy leagues. And they stay for 2-3 years, until they figure out what they really want to do with their life. This year, all the teachers who are leaving OUSD at the year’s end do not care about the contract negotiations. If the public is okay with constant rotation in of new, inexperienced teachers, I guess they don’t have to worry about the importance of the union either.

    Re: #26 US-B – As someone who did work another career before entering teaching, I can tell you that most people show up for work at their start time (when they get paid). Nurses show up for work exactly when they must punch the clock. They are not there early, putting on their scrubs, coats, etc… As a teacher who comes to work 30 minutes early (unpaid) daily and works countless hours (unpaid) at home, I really resent your telling me when I should be arriving to work. As a professional, that is my choice to make. Federal employment law agrees with me and states that no one should be required to work without pay. Your analogy of the dentist who arrives after you, carrying in his latte is not comparable to a teacher who arrives before school starts. If a teacher sauntered in carrying a latte after the start of the school day, then you would have cause to complain. Until then, please swallow your bile.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Gordon, I respectfully disagree. A union is a union is a union. I pay the union and support it to defend my rights and secure me a fair deal.

    Aren’t prison guard, firemen and police unions public sector? I haven’t heard them volunteering to cut their fat salaries or work overtime for free to help out during this budget crisis. In fact, teachers are the only public workers I am aware of that are expected to ROUTINELY work far more hours than they are paid for.

    And don’t talk to me about summers — that is unpaid leave, and most of us have to scramble to find work then, at least until our kids get through college and we move up the payscale.

    My beef with the teacher’s unions is different: I think they were too weak to get us good wages and so they settled for tenure instead.

    In communist Eastern Europe workers had a saying: “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.” It’s not that bad here, but there is a something similar going on between the HQ and the ground troops: “We pretend to listen to you and you pretend to evaluate us.”

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    I had to laugh about the “professional behavior” tangent. When I was growing up, my family went to the same old-school Catholic doctor that my father and grandparents had gone to as children. It was not uncommon to have a 10 AM appointment, for example, and have the receptionist smile and nod and say “He’ll see you shortly,” only to have Doctor C. stroll in at 12:30. I was in my twenties before I realized that everyone in America didn’t wait two or five hours to see the doctor.

    That schedule would obviously not work for teachers. (You’d think it wouldn’t work for doctors either, but my cousins still see Dr. C’s son, and I can only hope that he didn’t inherit his father’s watch.) But if school starts at 8:30, and the teacher arrives at 8:25, I fail to see what’s “unprofessional” as long as the lesson plan’s prepared, there are instructions on the board, and the students are clear as to what they’ll be doing that day.

    Nor do I think that professionals in any field should necessarily be judged by “face time” at the workplace. Having worked in the corporate sector, it’s been my experience that some of the people who put in the longest hours at work are the people who manage to stretch 20 minutes of effort into three hours of onsite presence.

    The same might be said for some of our students. I’m hesitant to buy into the idea that children are getting more or better education just by virtue of being in the school building for eight or ten hours a day rather than five or six. Their attention spans are always, always going to be a factor in how much they’re able to learn in one day, and in how devoted they’ll be to learning it.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the notion that grading papers on Sunday is “unpaid work.” Teachers are not paid by the hour. Salaried professionals agree to do the amount of work required to get the job done, and hopefully done well, in exchange for a lump annual sum. If I sign on to teach English to, say, 100+ freshmen, it would be crazy unrealistic to expect that I’d never work outside the hours of 8:00 and 4:00, Mondays through Fridays.

    And on the OTHER other hand, to whomever suggested that teachers have “summers off,” uh, no, it doesn’t work that way.

  • Let’s Get Real

    Kudos to you, US-B, for volunteering at an Oakland school. One way I am able to support my students during the regular school day is through dedicated parent volunteers.

    As to your question, I feel that, on my current salary (which is about half of what you proposed) I’m already going above and beyond my duties to help students achieve. Just because a teacher doesn’t tutor students before or after school doesn’t mean that teacher doesn’t spend countless hours (and dollars!) to plan instruction and support that will assist students in reaching the standards.

    Since you are assisting a teacher yourself, you know that it is unfair to expect any teacher on his/her own to bring every child in his/her class to proficiency, no matter what the salary, no matter how much time spent. That’s why I feel it is necessary to focus on the need for education funding to be utilized more effectively. I hope you would agree with that, US-B.

  • cranky teacher

    So teachers, who make half to a third as much as cops, firemen, prison guards, etc., are “salaried professionals” but those other public servants should get paid time and a half for every hour over contract? I am so confused!

    Actually, you’re wrong, Ms. McLaughlin, all teachers have contracts which are very specific about hours. OEA’s contract states that teachers work 183 duty days of 7 hours each (6:45 for elem), in exchange for that starting salary of 38.5K.

    One frustration is that the question of hours only seems to work in one direction: against us. For example, in any district, teachers missing “professional development” meetings or going over one’s number of sick days will result in negative financial and evaluative consequences. However, going way above and beyond in working hours because you believe it will benefit students is *rarely* paid for or even noted by administrators.

    Consider a teacher who coaches a team for an entire season after school and at weekend events — they may get as little as $600 on OUSD. An AP teacher who spend all of the holiday break reading 180 essays gets nothing extra.

    Personally, I got into this gig with eyes WIDE open and think it is silly to feel resentment for a system which has been this way for pretty much forever. I am LOVING being a teacher right now, actually, despite my moniker on this site.

    However, we need to be clear about what is what. I WAS a “salaried professional” in the corporate sector, once upon a time, and it looked nothing like *this*, lol.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Caroline (#24), I wouldn’t call myself a charter supporter, but I am agnostic about good education for kids. Show me what makes it available for the largest number in an “unbiased” way, that’s what I’ll support. I don’t believe one size fits all in much of anything – including education. I can critique charters as well as District schools.

    I don’t think parents much care. They want a good education for their children. That’s where I am.

    As for Walmart, I basically agree. Except, Oakland’s downtown SUCKED long before Walmart was even considered. In fact, it was more of a desperation move to save a FAILING business tax base.

    Even if you believe Walmart destroys communities, it provides cheap detergent. Most folks have decided they aren’t willing to pay 40% more for detergent in order to keep a local guy in business, particularly when the local guy doesn’t live in the community his business serves anyway.

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    Please forgive my admitted ignorance of contract details.

    I agree with much of what you say, believe me. One of the reasons I DO value our union is that there’s a tradition in the United States by which teacher = self-sacrificing martyr. 100 years ago, most of us would have been women, and it would have been taken for granted that either our husbands contributed the “real” income to our homes, or that we still lived with our parents. In any case, we were all Very Nice People who taught for the joy of helping the children, so cool! In terms of money, teachers were suckers on a stick.

    Perhaps some of us still are, which would explain why prison guards, etc. might make three times more money than we do. But the union does ensure us some degree of valuable perspective, on many levels.

    Obviously, none of us has entered this profession to get rich. For me, there’s significant reward in being exploited to help out children who need me, as opposed to being exploited to help the corporate officers at my old multinational hub sell overpriced, shoddy junk to the trusting public. Now THAT felt like a waste of my Sundays!

    In terms of my bank balance, it looked nothing like this, but THIS makes me want to get up in the morning…even on Sundays when report cards are due tomorrow.

    If that makes me a chump, I’m old enough now to have a sense of humor about my chumpiness. But I sure wouldn’t want to be a non-union chump…not in this line of work.

  • Gordon Danning

    Cranky Teacher:

    I respectfully disagree with your disagreement. No t all public sector jobs are created equal. Education is the single most important thing that the state provides to its citizens. It creates wealth, opportunity, equity, you name it. That other stuff you mention is trivia in comparison.

    So tell me, if we were offered a contract to double teacher salaries, increase class sizes to 75, and have teachers give scantron tests and bookwork every day, would you vote for it?

  • Nextset

    Gordon Danning:

    No. Education is not the single most important thing that the state provides its citizens.

    Certainly not now.

    Our citizens, especially the most productive class of people – pay for their own education leaving public “education” for the lower classes.

    Free markets enforced with Police & prison services are the single most important thing lumped in with the court system and followed by infrastructure such as Power, Water, Roads. These are what make civilization possible. Education we can get (buy?) ourselves thank you very much.

    And now that we get into this area, if the government steadily withdrew and allowed anarchy to come forward, we would probably settle into a more stable civilization. Never in the Wildest times of the Wild West did we have a “civilization” where parasites and predators dined so well on the productive citizens.

    There have been plenty of stories published about what a society without much government would be like. “Alongside Night” comes to mind. It doesn’t sound very bad to me compared to what I see about to happen to this one. Basically people learn to be very careful about what they say and do, and without making yourself useful to others you starve and sicken.

    The Obama crowd dreams that government can run everything and fix everything. History tells us the opposite. Government is the force behind the social problems we have in society. It’s sweet tasting poison. From the New Deal to the Civil “Rights” Movement government has warped behavior to the point that the producers in society must carry an ever increasing number of non-producers until USA society collapses into something else. Free Markets are the heart of freedom. Meddle with that and you can’t be free anymore.

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    Agreed, Mr. Danning, and the benefits of a good education are not limited to the individual. We need a strong public education system because we, as a society, are stunted and endangered by ignorant citizens.

    And Nextset, with all due respect, somebody wasted a lot of money.

  • Gordon Danning

    Nextet: Uh, I think my point was that education is necessary to provide all those things that you list, including the court system. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the people who provide those services were educated at public expense.

    I’m also trying to figure out how your free market system would provide the education that my former students have received at Cal, Harvard, Amherst, Georgetown, Stanford, Dartmouth, etc, etc, etc, because none of them paid for their college educations
    themselves; rather, the cost thereof was picked up by the taxpayers and/or parents of students who can pay full freight. So they’re all SOL, I guess, and so are we, because the free market would leave them by the waysides, with nothing more than a high school education. Perhaps, before you compose your next puerile paean to the free market, you should pause to google, “market failure.” (Or perhaps not, since both founders of Google attended public high schools and got their bachelors degrees at public high schools)

  • Nextset

    Gordon D: Your’re right on the colleges. My ire is directed at the primary and secondary public schools which I believe do the most damage. You are correct that the college and grad school level issues are different – involving a far higher investment in a smaller number of people and a longer term payoff to society and the student.

    But the free market is still crucial. And I’m not referring to Chicago in 1922 type of free market. The police and courts if they functioned well would swiftly punish liars, cheats, killers and thieves up to and including execution. One of the problems with the Brave New World is the premium on criminality since our justice system does not work well and crime is effectively subsidized and encouraged (white collar and the rest both).

    You are an Educrat I thake it. I don’t expect you to make the connection between free markets and your job. Our one size fits all “education” system is a luxury of waste and extravagance that is historically uncommon. It’s all going to fall down and go boom if and when we move into the Greater Depression that seems to be coming.

    Study the State Budget. See what is going to be available for education. See how we spend the public education budget there is. This can’t go on much longer. Rather than reform public secondary schools I believe the state will see them just crash and burn.

    And I believe your market failure is mainly a result of market meddling – the government preventing operators from running their own businesses (regulating into failure) while at the same time supporting bad actors. I see the government needing to relax regulation especially social regulation while speeding remedies for torts and breech of contracts. More anarchy and faster enforcement of contract rights and intentional and negligent harm. More power to the individual and less to the government. And much less guaranteed comfort levels for all.

  • ralph

    as much as i can appreciate that OUSD teachers are underpaid, i am not about to increase my taxes, not when people like David K have a hand in OUSD. Here is a man who wanted to break the city’s back for his precious kids first campaign. so instead of breaking our backs he, his cronies, that pinhead from Girls, Inc., our feeble-kneed council only screwed us up the butt NYPD style. reallocate some of your other dollars to salaries, improve your test scores, get rid of Kids First and then come see me.

  • M. Williams

    If the funds would be to increase salaries of teachers in Oakland, what does it matter if those teachers teach in a charter school or a traditional Oakland public school? They are educating the same students, from the same communities, with the same socio-economical disadvantages (student’s do not take test to gain entry into a charter schools, nor do their parents pay tuition therefore they definitely are not private). Simply because a teacher chose to try something different (hoping to be able to make a significant impact in kids lives and their communities) and applied to work for a charter school instead of an Oakland public school why should they not be looked after? I wonder if the same folks who claim that their only interest is to protect “their own” by being anti-charter have or know children who have benefited from the nurturing and education that a charter school teacher has provided. Unfortunately a lot of Oakland student are transient and often start at a Oakland public school, and find their way to a charter school, and vice versa. I have seen students leave charter schools and return to Oakland public schools better than before which benefits teachers overall. I am an Oakland resident, and I have children in an Oakland (public) charter school, and if I will be paying increased taxes it will be to benefit all teachers. Charter schools should not be compared to Wal Mart in any negative way, charter schools are schools of choice. Parents who can’t afford to live next to a well performing Oakland public school, now have the ability to find and have their kids attend a school with a proven track record of excellence (before they were limited by boundaries, and bureaucracy).