Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Say No to Teacher Contract (GUEST OPINIONS)

I received the following email regarding the vote at tonight's Board meeting, and below it, some excerpts from another:

Do parents know what is at stake tomorrow? If the board of education votes yes on the teacher contract tomorrow night, then it will ascertain that only the teachers will not feel the hits of the coming budget cuts and the coming years. Is that fair? I don't think so. In the same meeting they will be discussing more cuts that will impact the students, and then will vote to keep status quo for the teachers? Other districts around the state are going to have to impose pay cuts across all employee groups and even mandatory furloughs, shortened school years and more. (link to LA Schools proposal and LA Times article: LA Unified asks union to ok furlough days)

How can MDUSD justify this vote for the teachers in light of another upcoming round of MILLIONS in budget CUTS? I think Strange, Eberhart and Whitmarsh are being "too" loyal to the teacher union that no doubt helped at least two of them be elected. They voted for the pay raises last month. They are now going to vote to freeze salaries too? While the students will suffer with possible school closures and more program cuts, not to mention the sports, music, electives and class sizes - they now get to bear the brunt of more. All while the teachers get a guarantee.

State workers, and other corporations are reducing pay, enforcing furloughs, freezing bonuses and pay raises, instituting closures of major entities for days every month (DMV, courts, etc), and we want to guarantee nothing will happen to the teachers salary? I say STOP. We love our teachers. But even the union is throwing a segment of their own teachers under the bus. Who gets laid off when schools close? Yes, but not as many as will benefit from the freeze. Or maybe they are banking on the fact that fewer schools will have to fit more students and therefore absorb the teachers? Again, who gets hurt there? Families, students and communities.

I just wanted to voice that to you as I love our teachers, but as a parent it would be impossible for me to go public. My husband has been forced to take furlough days. We've lost all his overtime. I'm having to get a part time job. Companies, the State and others have to make hard choices to keep the entire entity solvent. How can a district so large as MDUSD look to guaranteeing anything for anyone at this point? So I hope that you will post this to educate others, as to what this vote really means. And a parcel tax? Are they nuts? The paper said that a parcel tax will avoid some of the upcoming cuts. But what about the cuts already done? Will my son be able to play his last year of football next year at CHS? Will my daughter still be able to try out for soccer as a freshman? What about special ed? Spending a million to learn where to cut even more? Oh, but the teachers get to maintain, while the rest of us take it for the team... no thanks.

And another:

Committing to the current contract for an additional three years will tie the hands of this district to cut everything from the students while maintaining a hands off approach to salary cuts. No one wants to cut salaries but when people all over this state are out of work, taking furlough days, and facing salary cuts, employees in this district can not be guaranteed business as usual. The district salaries make up 82% of the unrestricted budget…. Tonight we will be talking about closing schools and cutting programs on top of the items ... that have already been cut. Again cuts on the backs of the students. In Los Angeles they are looking at 4 furlough days this year for every employee and a 12% across the board pay cut next year.

....by rolling over the contract the teachers will still receive their stepped increases.

... by approving this contract the teachers will only be affected if we are faced with receivership, everything else goes first. Also please note that it is not just the teachers, I understand this will set a precedent for all bargaining unit contracts.

Parents should email the board before Tuesday's meeting, and plan to attend if they can and speak during public comment:


You can view the budget cuts that are being proposed tonight on the Board Agenda. There is both a powerpoint and an excel spreadsheet you can click and view at Item #17.7. Some of the items on the next cut list are:
  • Eliminate 4 FTE remaining middle and high school librarian positions (impact: libraries will close)
  • Eliminate 3.6 librarian FTE associated with Elementary Reduced Class Size
  • Reduce all Special Education services that are not mandated by state or federal law or included in the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  • Close schools. Cost savings would result from the consolidation of administrative and classified positions and in utility savings if the campus is not used. At Elementary Schools, following positions would be reduced: Principal, Office Manager, Elementary Head Custodian, PM Custodians, Elementary School Secretary.
  • Eliminate Parent Subsidized Busing Program (Impact: Busing to Mt. Diablo High School and Delta View Elementary would continue, all other home to school busing would cease.)
  • Reduce Custodial Substitute Policy (Impact: Some basic classroom cleaning would not be completed)
  • Increase minimum class size to 28 students or 80% of contractual maximum. (Impact: May eliminate AP or other low enrollment courses)
  • Delay purchase of textbooks and materials for language arts adoption for one year. Transfer funds to unrestricted fund balance. (Impact: May have budget impact in later years.)
  • Reduce unrestricted material and supply budgets (Impact: Reduced funding for paper products, landscaping supplies, and instructional supplies.)
There are several other items on the agenda, some require negotiation with the various employee entities and others are being further investigated. So take a look and be educated as to what is to come in our district. If you disagree with it, step up and let the Board know.


  1. this is a total absurdity. how can the district (strange and his cohorts) guarantee teachers jobs and salaries at the expense of everyone else in the district? are we to let the various campuses fall into total ruin? are the teachers going to step up and do the jobs of those who have lost theirs? this is really stupid!!! the board wants a parcel tax passed and thier pulling this kind of underhanded deal, it's not going to happen. just about every employee in this state (public and private) is feeling the fallout from the botched job done by those in sacramento, why are teachers exempt? i am NOT anti-teacher, i've helpe din the classroom, gone on field trips, been in the pta and done lots of fund raising BUT this is ONE district and as such the fiscal burden must be shared across ALL employee groups.

  2. you know what really sucks is that we're continually being manipulated. When I first heard about this I thought "good" because we need to keep our teachers. But you know what, I've totally changed my mind. How do we change this all around? By serious cuts across the board. How do we even preserve any quality education at all? Can a board member tell me what just a 1% pay cut across ALL employee groups would do to the budget? What is the employee budget?

  3. YOU GUY ARE IDIOTS!!! The district has already cut teacher jobs. Have you been paying attention?

    Nine teachers were given pink slips last August at the MDUSD school my wife works at! That's nine permanent and total salary cuts right there. Extrapolate that over all the schools in the district(many schools were hit much harder), and you may get a sense of the 'salary cuts' the district has already imposed.

    The district has taken the stance of cutting jobs over cutting salaries. Furlough days is an economically less effective strategy than the one already used by the district.

    The district guarantees no job and has behaved as such.


  4. NO! No pay raises! No pay freezes! RECALL! This smacks of the board being right in cahoots with the union. I say I've had enough!

  5. 11:15. Perfectly predictable. Call names. You lose all credibility.

  6. This contract has been in effect for the past three years. Teachers have been laid off, budgets have been cut, programs have been cut. Extending the contract does nothing to tie the Board's hands. It will let the Board, the administration, and the teachers work together in harmony to overcome the state's idiocy. There will be no protracted negotiations with the union.

  7. 11:25, so in order to preserve programs we can institute a pay reduction across all employee groups? No with this , we can't. I like the question someone else asked. What would a 1% cut across the board do to the budget? Nothing? Anything? What is 1% of a 60k salary? A few hundred. Now that would be a better idea than cutting more programs that hurt and impact the kids.

  8. I think teachers are around 90 million dollars in the budget. 1% would equal 9 million dollars. OVER HALF of what we have to cut next. Things that make you go HMMMMMM. All for a few hundred from each teachers check vs. losing their job due to decreased programs and closing schools. Who thinks this crap up anyway?

  9. Actually anon 11:57 your math is scewed .. sorry. It is less than 1 million. 10% would be 9 million.

  10. Oh , my bad, thank you, I guess it's good i'm not making the decisions around here. Sounded good though.

  11. YOu can see a lot of detailed budget info here:


  12. If the board does not approve this, then the teachers will just enter into negotiations and can easily draw that process out to 2-3 years. If that happens, then the law requires that the district stand by the terms of the previous contract. So in essence, the district gets the exact same financial terms and a huge battle with its largest employee group. Seems like a no brainer to approve this. There is no upside to fighting with the teachers because it will be at least two years before the district could impose any pay reduction, furlough or other cost saving measure. Given the fact that the district budgets on a three year basis, they would be forced to make other cuts to fund this anyway.

    They can't just unilaterally impose the changes you are discussing anyway, so why fight about it. This is far different than a situation where the district was actually increasing the salaries, then it makes sense to draw it out as the old contract provides a savings compared to a new one.

  13. Why fight about 12:37? Seriously? Fight for the kids. Period. End of story. Do not cave to the union. Even if it is on principle. The damage has been done with the raises. Do the right thing now.

  14. I see a RECALL election in our future. Gary, Shari, and Pauly, thanks for playing.

  15. So the district should fight on principle, spend hundreds of thousands on negotiations, risk a strike, cause a rift with the largest employee group, keep teachers from supporting the parcel tax, have teachers work to rule, and continue the battles of the past all with no financial benefit? In fact, to do so would cost more than agreeing . . . it would be worse for the kids. In fact, it would not be fighting for the kids at all. Fighting for the kids would be conserving resources and not fighting battles that have no value. Fighting for the kids is fighting against the wrong headed thinking that would just fight for nothing.

    We need reasonable leadership that won't capitulate to unreasonable demands to fight for the fight itself.

  16. I see. We are worried the teachers won't support the parcel tax. Well let's see. Who's support is more important? Parents AND community , or teachers? Are they holding that over the board's head? A threat perhaps? Interesting

  17. You know it is no damn good yelling fire after you have run out of the building. Regardless of the animosity that has swirled around the board of late, the bottom line remains that the State of California (us) are to blame for this disaster. I see too few people who bother to read up on the state issues that are causing this mess to continue. It is easier to complain about a board member than it is to look at the bigger picture. We have a black hole going on in California and we are all getting sucked in.

    I do not believe that the board should ratify anything tonight. Yes the teachers will be unhappy, but really without knowing how badly the Governor will slash his January budget revision, how can you plan ANYTHING?

    I also believe that if we are to survive this we need to recognize that there is no one who could have done anything different enough to have avoided this at the district level.

    It is time to end existing policies across the board and work together to see whether anything can be done to offset what looks like an ongoing series of State disasters that have no end in sight.

  18. Let's see - larger class sizes, (but continued pressure to improve student scores), more duties, (Doing more with less - The expectations of parents and the District are the same.) Lowest teacher pay scale around - after 13 years in the district a teacher only gets a pay increase every 3 years -There was no pay increase with the last ratified contract and medical costs have risen. So parents are upset that teachers want to settle for a freeze." This means no step and column for any teacher with over 13 years unless they hit that "3 year milestone." Do you really want to see what it would be like if teachers worked-to-rule for an extended time?
    Go to you local school and get permission to shadow a teacher for a day. You'd better do that the day before. My day starts at 7 AM with answering email and ends about 5:30PM with grading papers and recording scores so they are available online. Oh and bring your lunch but don't drink too much water. We've about 20 minutes for lunch; sorry I've yard duty during 10 minute Brunch so the next bathroom break is after the students leave at 3:30. Yes, I'm sure someone will have something to say like - You selected this career, so deal with it. I will deal with it, and if I do the public is really going to have something to complain about.

  19. MisterWriter, I happen to agree with your idea of "waiting." I think the state will probably be throwing more things at us. We don't have enough information right now to completely tie our hands in this option. I do not wish any reduction on teachers. They do enough. They do a lot. But, if this district ends of facing a receivership by the state, then all bets on their contract are off anyway. I think even they would prefer to help in the solution to avoid that. At least I would hope they would. Last year at this time we thought we had to cut X. By April / May we were looking at cuts we never imagined (sports, music, class sizes), and what I'd like to suggest is that they wait. Maybe until the May revise to see what the state is going to screw up next.

  20. The board has tabled this item for discussion just now. . . so no action taken tonight.

  21. I like how there has been a distinction between teachers and the cuts that have affected students. Like one group doesn't have anything to do with the other. CUTS TO TEACHERS WILL AFFECT STUDENTS. How can you not see the correlation? And people are talking about the cuts that have affected their students like music, sports, etc, why do your students go to school? To get an education right? So what's more important to getting that vital education, music/sports or teachers? Hardly any of our students are going to go on to do anything associated with music or sports past the high school level but a significant number will be going on to college to LEARN. Which just happens to be the primary responsibility of teachers in your district. Priorities...

  22. teachers in this district have already been screwed and have not received a raise in a long time. We barely made any progress with the last contract and got some medical for some members...but that's it. We went years with no COLA raises.
    Now that health care is continuing to go up we are actually talking about a cut?

    It's sad, and horribly wrong that it even needs to come up. But these cuts should not be made on the backs of those in the classroom with students. Cut assistants, cut admin., cut programs, close schools even. But to continue to insult teachers will only serve to lesson the quality of education in this district and attract the bottom of the barrel.

  23. Cuts to teachers means cuts to our children! Is this what we want? This contract situation does not guarantee teacher jobs. This would be the same contract and it didn't save jobs last year, so what are you talking about???? Also, teachers have had to "step up" with increased class sizes, some up to 55%, or we have lost or reduced programs for out kids. So those that seem to need the cuts to happen, look at your children first.

  24. I think that the suggestion to shadow a teacher for a day start after we start working the contract we actually have. Work to rule...I guess it is time.

  25. You have a contract, nothing has changed, why would you even talk about work to rule now. Are you bitter? Seriously.. you guys all worked to rule last year and it wasn't a big deal. Don't start threatening, it makes you sound like a bad teacher.

  26. There aren't enough admins to cut to cut. I'm not saying I want teacher salaries cut, or furlough days or anything else, but options need to be left open. Otherwise, perhaps we can all just step back, let the state come in, go for a receivership and get back on track like Oakland did. Then you all can just live with whatever they do as your contract goes out the window at that point right? So let's keep running ahead of the speeding train as you suggest... at some point, we'll be run over. All because we didn't want to hit that brake.

  27. Members of the teacher's union should be thrown in prison for extortion. "Work to rule" are you joking or just a liberal idiot?

  28. People don't seem to understand the idea of 'work to rule.' The point of it is that teachers don't want to be taken for granted, or taken advantage of. The idea is that teachers ALWAYS work beyond their contract hours. Always have the student's best interests in mind. Always work during breaks. Always work before the school year starts. Work to Rule hopefully lets people see what they are taking for granted all the time. Give them some respect and a fair wage. It's pretty simple.