I was talking with my mom the other day about the school district where we both work. She works at the DO and I am a teacher. I make more money than her, but she is close to retiring and she and my dad are pretty well set for their golden years. She was telling me that they had a staff meeting with the district big wigs and they were talking money, which is what they always talk about. I guess for next year (2011-12) our district is pretty well set. There may be some changes here are there, but nothing major (or so they say!). But, the shit will hit the fan in 2010-13 and 2013-14. It seems like a long way away, but it isn't. I guess then we will really be in the hole. And it scares me because there isn't much more we can give up.
Each year for the last few years, our district has RIF'd teachers. 200 teachers. They tell all of us that the teachers will be let go and they are going to raise class size to 33 in K-3. Teachers start to panic that they are going to have 50% more kids in their class than before. And they panic. I'm not all for trying to effectively teach 33 kids, but I'll do my best when the times comes. And it will. Anyway, each year, we get threatened by the district that 200 teachers are going to be RIF'd, unless we give up something. And each year, we cave and give up something in return for keeping jobs.
Here's why I won't be popular. I am safe. They would have to let go of almost 700 teachers before they got to me. I'm not going anywhere. I work my butt off, though, even though I am safe. I am responsible for the kids in my class and I want them to learn. But at the same time, I am responsible for my family and the life we have. I can't give up much more without sacrificing something at home. And I am tired of it. We haven't been given a cost of living adjustment in our pay in years. So while everything else goes up, our pay doesn't. Oh, but the district keeps the money. Our benefits used to be fully covered. Then I had to pay $30 a month plus any deductible of $10. Then it went to $60 a month and $10. Then it went to $70 a month with a $20 deductible. And now it's over $200 a month with a $20 deductible and a big cut in what's covered with prescriptions (thankfully we aren't sick people). And this year, to help save jobs, we took furlough days, which cut out over $350 a month from my pay. No, it's not a ton of money, but $350 is a car payment. Or my months worth of groceries. Add to that the $200 for insurance, that's over $500 less than I had before and everything costs more, too!
And let me guess. In the next 3 months, the district is going to come out again, threaten to lay off teachers and the union is going to come out and tell us we have to give more. I can't. I am tired of it. It's bullshit! We're living on pennied at the end of the month, doing without so the district can save money and pad their paychecks. And for those who disagree with the unions' ideas, we are wrong and not thinking of the teachers as a whole. Really? The high school teachers are out for themselves. They think our jobs are pretty much useless. Um, I hate to break it to them, but it the kids can't read in elementary, then they won't do well in high school. How would they like that?
Here's my plan! You wanna lay off teachers? Then do it finally. It's gonna happen eventually, do it. Yeah, it sucks people would be out of a job, but stop threatening them year after year. That's no way to live and work. Give me 30+ kids and I will do my damndest to work with them. But, in return, don't give me any furlough days. Don't make my insurance go any higher. And for the love of Sam, give me my dame COLA raise. Make me feel like I am more to you than just a person taking up space. Add a couple more bucks to our supply budget so we can get the materials we need to teach our kids. And really? Do you need that many people at the district? Let some of them go and figure out how to make it work, just like we are!
Again, I'm not im the popular group with this thinking, but I am tired of the negativity it brings. We get teachers e-mailing everyone to say why they can't give up money because of their retirement. Or that high school is more important than the lowly elementary school. Or that they are a single mom of 5 kids and they can't afford to be out of a job and that they have been to 5 other districts and have been RIF's at each one and let go. Or why don't we all just take one for the team and help out a little and that it won't be that bad, it's just a little money...why are we all so greedy? Um, ok. All grades are important. Your retirement will be safe, you just won't be making as much this year, but you are still making more than most, sorry this is your 6th district, but...I am tired of taking one for the "team" and in turn my family gets the short end of the stick! Sorry, but I think I can be a bit selfish when it comes to my family.
But, in the end, we will be told we need to get test scores up higher and that we need to work harder than before (and some of us do work harder) and work as a team more and then something will happen that will bring morale down across the district, and we will be pitted against each other again and end up giving away more than we already have. Yay.