26 September 2008

Broward Teachers Are Asking Too Much

Teachers Are Asking For Too Much

Guest Columnist  
  Last year, while the Teacher contract really wasn’t up for dispute, I went to bat for the Teachers of Broward County Schools. 
 What I posted here a year ago wound up not only as a published Letter To The Editor in the Sun-Sentinel, but likewise as an Editorial produced by the Sentinel Editorial Board as well after their investigation of the information I exposed.
Nice to know that I was ahead of the pack even then. 
This year I say NO.
Don’t be bamboozled by the hype that Broward Teachers are getting no raise this year, or the School Board is offering Zero percent.  Teachers have already received a 3 percent raise as of July 1st.
From the BTU Negotiation news posted July 8th:  “BTU-EP Chief Negotiator Dane Ramson said the requested information (School Board finances) was to help the union’s team identify possible “pots” of money during such difficult economic times. The funds could be utilized for the salary increases of instructional staff.”
“District negotiators flatly rejected the union’s salary increase proposal above the negotiated step movement that took place effective July 1, 2008.”
Don’t swallow the mis-information that Teachers are underpaid.  They aren’t.  Give that a moment to sink in and then read on…
Let me debunk some common myths.
Teachers need to be paid like professionals.  Broward Teachers start at $38,500 while most professionals start at $24,000.  Broward Teachers top out at $72,000 while most professionals top out at $55,000. And with Master’s, PHDs and other certifications, there are many Teachers in Broward making upwards of $92,000.  Hardly slave wages.
Teachers don’t get paid vacations.  Most professionals get two weeks off each year for the salaries they earn. Teachers get thirteen weeks.  Two weeks for winter break, one week for spring break and ten weeks for summer break.  Most professionals get five sick days each year, use them or lose them by December 31st. Teachers not only get ten sick days per year, but they can accumulate unused leave year to year.
Teachers don’t get paid holidays.  Yes they do.  While not defined as holidays in their contact, holidays are defined as days off through school closing. Even though Teachers don’t work on Columbus Day, they still get paid for the day as though it was a regular work day.  Ditto with New Year’s Day.  July 4th, too.  And just how many professionals are required to work on those days for no extra pay?
Teachers work long hours.  Yes they do.  So do most professionals.  60 and 70 hour weeks with weekends are not uncommon in either the professional or teaching world.
As I mentioned, teachers have already received a 3 percent raise as of July 1, negotiated LAST YEAR. 
 But that’s not enough for some, despite the fact that the voters have mandated reductions in cost of government and lower taxes. 
 TEACHERS HAVE GOTTEN THEIR RAISES THIS YEAR DESPITE THE MANDATE, but the union wants more.  Everybody else is suffering in the current economy.  Miami Dade is getting no raise as of this writing, but the BTU wants more.
The issue last year and the year before as a School Board Member was not one of percentages, but of equitable distribtuion.  The Union distribution of raises was and still is a JOKE.  It’s called a step system and MUST be dismantled at all costs. 
 The joke is that Teachers with less than 18 years get next to nothing, while Teachers with 18 years or more get 10, 17 and even 20 percent raises.  And that’s exactly the case with this year’s raises.  Just go to btuonline.com and take a look at the contract salary schedule.  $50, $75, $100 raises.  Not per week.  Per year.  Enough for a tank of gas.  Maybe.
That changed in 2006 with my leadership and again in 2007.  In 2006, Teachers received 6.3 percent ACROSS THE BOARD, not distributed according to the step scale.  Every teacher received a $2,050 raise and in 2007, that raise was $1,725.
The bottom line here is that while Teachers are feeling the pain with rising prices as are the rest of us, they’ve already gotten something that most of us haven’t. Demanding more is just plain piggy.
Me?  Like Will Rogers; “I’m not a member of any organized party.  I’m a Democrat.”
 (Marty Rubinstein is a former Broward County School Board member.  See more of his views on martyrubinstein.com)

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