Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Today, we teachers learned from our District how much this year's pay cut was going to be:
In May 2005, Broker ___ of _____ Insurance Agency advised the District of the 19.88% increase to your Blue Shield medical plan composite premium rates, effective October 1, 2005... Therefore, effective with the September 30, 2005 pay warrant, and additional $175.38 will be withheld monthly to pay for these increased premiums.
With this one memo, I sustained another annual pay cut, this time in the amount of $1753.00 after taxes. No choices, no option to reduce or modify coverage. It's a one-size-fits-all policy.

Thanks to this latest increase in insurance premiums, my take-home pay will now be almost exactly what it was during the 1999-2000 school year. Meanwhile, the prices of just about everything from our water bill to my union dues continues to relentlessly increase.

As teachers have not been paid anything at all since the first week in June, this latest news doesn't do much to improve teacher morale. But who cares? Certainly not our district administrators.

Even though we report to work in mid-August, teachers out here in the "Imperial" Valley are paid monthly. And in our district, the first check comes on the last day of September.

Three and one-half months without any income can be tough.

All administrators, on the other hand, continue to have their insurance premiums fully paid by the district. They have also gotten pay raises each each year, with a pay hike of 5.25% for the current school-year. Administrators also received a paycheck on August 30th.

One high-ranking district administratrix justified the payraise for her fellow administrators by saying, "They work so hard."

Teaching positions all over the district continue to be "downsized," (Three at our school: art, shop, and one language arts) but in the well-over 10 years that I've served our students, no administrator has ever been laid-off. To the contrary. The district continues to hire (almost all from the outside) people for newly-created administrative posts.

In other Howard Taft Junior High School news, it has been the practice at our institution to figure student grades and send report cards home (via U.S. mail) every 6 weeks.

Our principal has now decreed that teachers must additionally generate a grade every two weeks and hand enter it into each student's daily planner during class. He made it quite clear that his preference was for these extra grades to be given weekly, but I guess, for the time being, every two weeks will satisfy him.

That means I'll have to compute grades for all 175 students, and, while they're doing some sort of written assignment in class, enter each one into the student's school-issued "daily planner."

The amount of extra paperwork that this scheme will create is huge.

But none of our administrators seem to care about teacher morale. After all, it was our superintendent, Dr. Evil, who set the tone when he famously said, "Professional educators are principals and above." and went on to refer to teachers as "Service providers."

Dr. Evil never lets us forget that, to him, we're "just teachers."

He knows that due to seniority rules and salary schedules, classroom teachers with more than 5 years of service really can't leave the district as it will result in a permanent loss of seniority and a negative impact on the teacher's retirement.

The turnover among beginning teachers is what you would expect. High. They soon get the message and many leave for other districts where the focus is on student learning and not the further expansion of Dr. Evil's Administrative Empire.

Teaching our young people should be one of the most satisfying jobs on the planet. But it's the shenanigans of such petty autocrats as Dr. Evil and his minions that often transform what ought to be the Most Beautiful and Fulfilling Career On Earth into little more than a McJob for folks who haven't yet figured-out a way to escape the system and get something better.

And that's a shame.
This week's Carnival Of Education midway will open here Wednesday. Carnival submissions are due by 9:00 PM (Pacific) tonight. Send them to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

Main Page/Latest Posts