I am a teacher on the elementary level and have recently discussed this topic with some of my fellow colleagues from a number of different schools this year. What seems to be a consensus among classroom teachers is that they are spending between 10-20 additional hours weeklyperforming various work related duties with absolutely no compensation for it. Many have said these hours have been increasing over the last few years. Most have said that alarge share of the increase began last year with the implementation of the new teacher evaluation. They have also expressed that with the pressure of a ratcheted–up evaluation and additional classroom management, including mastery objectives and all the other demands that goes along with it, this year has been unprecedented in additional over time hours spent.
I believe that it is time now to ask the negotiating team to no longer accept a contract that continues to have percentage increase parity with the police and fire departments. It is well known that a police officer receives overtime pay the moment the officer is required to stay beyond their shift. This is not to mention the financial benefit from minimum hourly requirements when an officerhas to attend court proceedings, no matter if the officer is only there for a minimal amount of time. Fire fighters who are required to stay beyond their shift to battle a fire will also benefit from overtime pay. Firefighters won a two day 24hr. shift as part of a negotiated contract a few years ago. This allows many firefighters the opportunity to earn additional income with a second job. So why then do we as teachers always accept percentage increases that are offeredby the city to parity with these other unions while we are not compensated for additional hours spent performing various duties related to our job?
Keep in mind that of the three unions mentioned, we are the ones that are required to spend tens of thousands of ourown money to obtain the necessary degrees and certification for employment. Our fellow city police and fire union members need only a H.S. diploma or GED. I am not trying to disparage either of these honorable professions as I have a son who is a police officer and know too well the anxiety of waiting for his safe return home each day.
For far too long we as teachers have not received the respect and compensation we deserve for the ever-increasing responsibilities that go hand in hand with the job we perform each and every day.
Let us not forget the one hour compensation to elementary teachers for planning time that was negotiated, ratified and signed into contract and then callously reneged upon by Mayor Jon Mitchell.
We must stick together as a union through these difficult times to try to resolve our differences with the administration. We must also demand the respect that we deserve that has been absent for quite sometime from those who profess to understand what we do each day without ever having taught in a classroom.
AND….. We must convey to the administration throughupcoming contract negotiations that although we do not expect an hourly compensation for the many additional hours required to perform our job to a proficient level (they could never afford it anyway) we do expect a percentage increase that will compensate us truly in parity with the above mentioned unions.