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Oakland teacher strike is postponed

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 at 9:20 am in families, OEA, union contract.

Cancel that babysitter! Oakland schools won’t shut down on March 24, as planned. The one-day teacher strike has been reset to Thursday, April 22.

Why the change? The Oakland teachers union president, Betty Olson-Jones, has announced that the fact-finding recommendations aren’t likely to be completed before the end of March or beginning of April. The union can’t legally strike until that report is out, and spring break is the week of April 4.

“Because this situation remains fluid — i.e. we are not strike legal until the fact-finding report is released, we urge you to keep checking the OEA website for the most up-to-date information,” she wrote in an e-mail to her members.

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  • Hayward person

    Katy-

    You know from your days at the Daily Review that public education has been in a mess in Hayward for quite some time. When Dr. Dale Vigil got his $125,000 golden parachute in December, he became the latest Super. to fail there and walk away with a 6 figure settlement on the way out.

    You can’t be surprised about what has happened there. Having all Hayward public high schools land on this list is a real humiliation. I pay to send my kids to Moreau Catholic, but given the alternative, I have no choice. Hayward public schools are dropout factorys. My kids deserve better.

  • harlemmoon

    Great!
    Now perhaps the talks can continue in a way that honors all sides – but most importantly the children.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Ah, “the children” — usually only invoked when it is convenient to one’s argument. As in: “The teachers should work longer hours for less money — for the children!”

    Funny how they never say that about cops, EMTs and firemen — who are saving lives! It’s only logical: Starting tomorrow, let’s have every cop do their paperwork on their own time, for no overtime, so they can be out patrolling 2-3 hours more a day. That work for you, Chief Batts? Because that’s what teachers do.

    In that vein, I absolutely *loved* all the hand-wringing on here and in the newspaper (i.e., conservative pundit Debra Saunders) about kids missing a single day of school during a protest. What manipulative, insincere tripe coming from people who couldn’t care less that these kids sit doing nothing with subs all the freaking time, sometimes for a whole school year.

  • Nextset

    On the technology front there is new hardware/software that uses a Standard PC to run 4 added on workstations. Each one has it’s own screen and internet browser. The savings is on the licenses for the software since you have only 5 computers needed for 25 students to work at the same time, fewer actual computers to maintain and pay licenses for. The workstation keyboard and screen are lower cost than even a cheap computer.

    I hope the schools are working on plans to field a lot of workstations. The cost per station is dropping all the time. In so doing a teacher should be able to do more in assigning, collecting and scoring lessons.

    The thread of teacher strikes seemed a good spot to bring this up. Times are changing. The dynamics of teacher/student ratios are about to change also. You will see it in private schools 9And maybe Piedmont USD?) first. The equipment is safer there.

  • harlemmoon

    Spoken like a true teacher, Cranky.
    But seriously, folks, dragging in totally dissimilar professions to add credence to your arguments is a lot like comparing OUSD to Piedmont schools – utterly ridiculous.
    The facts should speak for themselves. And right now I don’t hear a helluva lot of rational, informed arguments coming from either side.

  • Oakland Teacher

    “Dragging in totally dissimilar professions” is an interesting point of view. I interpret that to mean that teachers should expect to do hours of work daily after their paid hours, spend thousands of dollars each year for supplies not provided by their employer, and make do with less pay than other professions. The best part about the already low pay is that if you are a teacher in OUSD, you get paid less than any other teacher in Alameda County.

    Fair employment is fair employment, regardless of profession. And teachers in any geographic location should be paid comparable salaries, otherwise you end up with a revolving door of teachers, who come to districts like OUSD and stay only long enough to get their credential or experience for a resume, and then leave for greener pastures.

    Oh, wait a minute. That is actually good for OUSD, because they end up with huge turnovers and lower salaried for less experienced staff. But is it good for students?

  • J.R.

    The education,prison,and public service systems need an enema. Get rid of all useless,lazy, worthless, redundant and unnecessary pigs at the trough. By all means, keep the best and toss the rest.

  • Ms. J.

    Block that metaphor! Are you saying teachers et al are poo or pigs? Either way, not super helpful.

  • Cranky Teacher

    To clarify the point, Harlemmoon: Teachers are guilt-tripped about a) having a union b)asking to be receive raises even commensurate with inflation, and c) “working to rule,” which means working the hours specified in the contract they have signed. The rationale is that children are more important than the rights of the teacher. Yet if I extend this to police or EMTs and gunshot victims … it is dissimilar?

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Oakland Teacher.
    Woe is Oakland. Well, guess what? It’s bad all over. Just a tiny bit of digging turned this up.

    Alameda (yeah, next door), just cut two days and the associated PAY from teachers (no strike threats necessary). Checking on CDE’s site, that’s about the difference in starting pay for teachers. And check out the benefits differences. Whoa. http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/Navigation/fsTwoPanel.asp?bottom=%2Fprofile.asp%3Flevel%3D06%26reportNumber%3D16 (select the teachers salaries report)

    Where do you think the cost of living is higher Alameda or Oakland. http://rentaldata.myapartmentmap.com/ca/alameda/

    What’s OEA asking for again? 15%???

    Alameda also raised K-3 class sizes to 25:1 (no strike threats either). Hmmmm. http://alamedasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6666&Itemid=10

    Oh yeah, and I guess they have to lay off teachers too, in part because some schools are going charter. Hmmmm.
    http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/index.php/home/latest-news/129-loss-in-state-funding-resulting-in-layoffs

    The other curious question is how did Oakland simultaneously increase inexperienced staff and become the most improved large urban District academically over the last five year? Hmmmm.

    What is Alameda gonna do about all this turmoil? Yep, they’ve got a parcel tax coming. We’ll see.

    These are indeed very interesting times.

  • J.R.

    To clarify, the education system is unnecessarily top heavy

    Example:

    LAUSD,

    Managing almost 900 schools and more than 650,000 students is a huge task. But a Daily News review of salaries and staffing shows LAUSD’s bureaucracy ballooned by nearly 20 percent from 2001 to 2007. Over the same period, 500 teaching positions were cut and enrollment dropped by 6 percent.
    The district has approximately 4,000 administrators, managers and other nonschool-based employees – not including clerks and office workers – whose average annual salary is about $95,000. About 2,400 administrators are among the 3,478 LAUSD employees who earn more than $100,000 annually.
    Meanwhile, the average salary for an LAUSD teacher is $63,000. And the average household income in Los Angeles County is less than $73,000.

  • Gordon Danning

    JR: Jeez, if LAUSD’s enrollment dropped 6 percent to 650,000, then they lost 41,000 students (650,000/.94). And they only cut 500 teaching positions? Not bad. And, if they now have 4000 “bureaucrats,” then they added about 667 people (4000-[4000/1.20]). That hardly seems outrageous for a 900-school, 650,000-student district. And, of course we have no idea what those people do.

  • Sarah

    This is my 3rd year teaching at a traditional school in Oakland. I completely understand why OEA holds the positions they do, but every single time I hear a teacher complain about our working conditions (which, I agree, are not great), I get a little angry.

    As teachers, we all have college degrees, health insurance, and stable homes. A shockingly large percentage of our students can’t say that they come from a family with even ONE of those. THEY are the ones that actually have to take the sub-par education many teachers/schools are giving them and actually try to make something of their lives.

    The worst part is that OEA makes a huge fuss over defending public education as a civil right (which it is), but will NEVER agree to being held professionally accountable for student achievement in any measurable way. I wonder if they’re telling the small business owners that when they post their “Support Oakland Teachers” signs in the windows. What they’re really “supporting” is a full court press against the children of Oakland.

  • Harold

    Sarah – that is all true, but it doesn’t mean we should just be quiet and accept our low pay and crumbling working conditions.

    … and we are held “professionally accountable” through the WASC process. “Failing” schools get reorganized all the time.

    What are you willing to struggle for? Veteran Teachers (and new ones), with families, mortgages, etc., haven’t had raises in a decade. You may be able to get by … but i have colleagues who are not.

    Union busting is all about driving down wages. I cannot go backwards in pay. I want OEA to get me the biggest raise possible and annual cost-of-living pay, just like the rich folks, who work on Wall Street.

  • Sarah

    I absolutely agree that hard-working teachers that are personally accountable for their performance and results should be paid significantly more.

    However, just because a teacher possesses a certification (which has an almost negligible correlation to student achievement) does not make him/her ENTITLED to a job until they retire.

    What I am willing to fight for is quality teachers in every classroom, no matter what. I am absolutely not willing to ask for a raise from OUSD that would come from the backs of my students (which I believe it will, unlike OEAs stance). If we want a raise, this is how we get it:

    1) Become accountable, and therefore become eligible for federal and/or foundation funding such as I3, RTTT (which we lost out on), and the Teacher Incentive Fund.
    2) Remove tenure and make teachers earn their jobs. A credential should not be an entitlement.
    3) Parcel tax if necessary.

  • Gordon Danning

    Why do I always hear teachers claim that “we haven’t gotten a raise in (fill in blank) years”? Every teacher who has not worked more than 15v years gets a raise every year, as they rise up the salary schedule. Moreover, the current contract calls for an increase in the salary schedule from the 06-07 school year to the 07-08 school year. So, a first year teacher in 06-07 who is on column 6 would have seen his or her salary go from $45,988 to $51,377 today. Isn’t that a raise? And, the 06-07 contract schedule was, I believe, an increase from the previous year’s schedule. So, to say that we “haven’t gotten a raise” is whatever years is intellectually dishonest.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Sarah, regardless of what OEA or anyone else wants, society will not continue to provide across the board increases in pay without any accountability. The fact that a lefty president like Obama is demanding accountability ought to be a hint to the wise.

    Education as a profession should be more valued, but you won’t get there without valuing results. Right or wrong, this is a primary reason charters have gained ground with parents and recruits. Good teachers don’t like tolerating mediocrity (or worse) next door. Protecting mediocrity is the road to demise and trust me, we’re accelerating.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Harold, union-busting is not about driving down wages, it’s proving that the union is irrelevant or worse. You could do that by making union wages the same as non-union wages or you could do that by the FAILURE OF UNIONIZED INSTITUTIONS. The U.S. of A. has chosen the latter route with much help from their unions in myriad industries. Note that the collapse of most of our manufacturing base is in part due to the high cost of wages, benefits and retirement compared to our competitors – even the ones that don’t operate sweat shops.

    Unions aren’t bad, in fact, they serve an important role – preventing management abuse. It’s when they go beyond that and stifle progress that they destroy the host on which they feed. From what I can tell, those who are closer to it than me believe that the host (Districts) cannot succeed with the unions tied around their ankles. This is clearly worse in poor urban areas where the needs are greater and the resources fewer. The answer seems to be to circumvent the unions through charters or vouchers. Is this a good strategy? I don’t know. You’d hope you would just be able to get the unions to loosen up on the ankles a bit so the host could survive.

    We’ll see.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Gordon,
    A friend clued me in to this “intellectual dishonesty” a few years back. What is more interesting than self-interested lying, is media silence. Ever hear the media call them on it? Katy???

    If you take the paycheck of a teacher from Harold’s decade ago and compare it to their paycheck today, NOT ONE SINGLE TEACHER is receiving the same pay for the same work. I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. Any takers? OEA?

    Now look. Teachers are underpaid as a profession. California teachers are underpaid relative to the cost of living. Oakland teachers are paid lower than most of their peers regionally. It’s not really worthy of argument, of course Oakland needs to raise salaries to honor the work and to hire and retain better quality teachers. But, do we need lying – uh, excuse me – “intellectual dishonesty?”

    It’s this kind of hyperbole that undermines the central point that teachers should be paid more as should many other employees – take a look at the salary levels for all of Oakland’s employees.
    http://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/199410811175930900/lib/199410811175930900/Job_Classifications_and_Salaries_103009website.pdf

    The TRUTH (I love that word) is that after the first 3 years of 1.6% raises (before tenure I guess), Oakland teachers average 3.5% annual increases for the remainder of Harold’s decade. I guess, what OEA considers a “raise” would be on top of that??? That 3.5% is more than inflation (at least as measured by CPI – http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_rate/historicalinflation.aspx).

    Still, there in the Bay, 3.5% might not be much, but it ain’t 0%. According to the numbers in that salary schedule, the increase over Harold’s “decade” would be over 30%. Again, not dot-com riches, but not 0% either.

    http://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/199410811175930900/lib/199410811175930900/K12T_Salary_Schedule.pdf

    Another thing that friend reminded me – the facts are there if people would take two minutes to look.

  • Oakland Teacher

    There are few to no first year teachers on column 6; I don’t even understand why you would use this as an example. Most first year teachers are column 1 or 2.

  • Gordon Danning

    Oakland Teacher:

    The point is the same, no matter what column you look at.

  • Karen L

    What is the latest on the 4/22 one-day strike? Is it still scheduled to happen?

  • Katy Murphy

    Yes, it’s still on — unless something has just happened today that I haven’t heard about.

  • Cranky Teacher

    OOOOOOHHHH, a number-crunching war, fun!

    Of course, TheTruthHurts, teachers’ pay increases as they advance in seniority, add new credentials, etc. Nobody is arguing that.

    The issue is whether they are receiving overall COLA or COLA+ “raises” — salary increases that maintain relative economic stability in an inflationary world.

    When folks talk about “not getting a raise in a decade” they are comparing the pay of a teacher in 2000 to the pay of a teacher in 2010.

    Here are the numbers:

    2000 min./max salary: $37,918 / 68,144
    2010 min./max salary: $39,456 / 70,600

    Increase in salary over ten years (min/max): +4%/+3.6%
    Inflation over ten years (U.S.): 28.2%
    Inflation over ten years (Calif.): 29.2%
    Inflation over ten years (S.F/Bay): 29.4%

    Are you seeing the issue here? By this measure, the ACTUAL PAY increases for a first- or a fifth- or a tenth-year teacher over the decade has lagged WAYYYYYYYY behind the rate of inflation.

    (Of course, some folks might want us to up the pay of teachers BEYOND the rate of inflation, but nobody is even going there. Even the so-called “crazy” demand of OEA a phased-in 20% pay hike was only an attempt to catch up with inflation.)

    This, despite the fact that OUSD received monies to meet COLA (i.e., inflation) needs for employees!

    The district doesn’t deny these numbers, they’ve said over the past decade:

    – The 2000 contract was too rich (it brought OUSD teachers up to regional norms).
    – The district didn’t manage its money well.
    – We have to pay back the state for the bailout loan.

    Well, the 2000 contract was mostly given back after the state takeover. And the state was supposed to have straightened out the district finances.

    So how about a COLA? Well, this go-around the district did not present even a COLA raise — remember, they offered a PAY CUT and a benefits freeze. Now they’ve upped it to just a pay/benefits freeze.

    In other words, sign a contract which will see the salary scale decrease in real dollar value every year of that contract.

    Honestly, I don’t ask anybody to be sympathetic to teachers — we do this by choice. What I want you to realize is that our pay affects your children and the larger community, most directly through the issues of turnover, attacting talent and faculty morale.

    Oh, and I think site administrators should be paid more, too. Tough, tough job, especially at the bigger schools.

    http://www.oaklandteachingfellows.org/your_teaching_career.php

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-06-13/news/17651390_1_teacher-s-salary-new-teachers-teacher-union

    http://www.dof.ca.gov/HTML/FS_DATA/LatestEconData/documents/BBCYCPI.xls