Teachers’ Union Uses Students to Leverage Contract Settlement

Dennis Richardson Teachers Union Uses Students to Leverage Contract Settlement

by Rep. Dennis Richardson

School District should resist union’s threats and bluster

I cannot remain silent when surrogates for a teachers’ union encourage 100 Eagle Point High School (EPHS) students to break school rules, march off campus and stage a protest to “respect the teachers.” Such a stunt, implicitly intended to pressure the school district to accept the union’s final offer and avoid the strike that the union called, is despicable. Notwithstanding the misinformation given to the students, the impasse in collective bargaining has everything to do with money and power, and nothing to do with respecting the good teachers of EPHS.

Eagle Point, a southern Oregon community of 8,500, has become the most recent community facing the battle between public unions and public school districts. The dispute is over how limited tax resources should be spent, and after a year of collective bargaining negotiations, the teachers and classified workers at Eagle Point School District 9 are scheduled to walk out of the E.P. schools and strike.

To the best of my understanding, here’s a summary of the school district and the union’s positions:

The school district’s final offer to the union includes the following key provisions:

  • The annual average payroll package for teachers will total $92,000 by the third year of the proposed labor contract. The $92,000 cost for each teacher position is for 190 days work. [To be specific, 190 days at 7.5 hours per day = 1425 hours per year or $64.82 per hour.]
  • The compensation package includes:
    • an average salary of $58,000; [$58,000 divided by 1425 hrs = $41 per hour.]
    • a signing bonus ($400);
    • 1% pay increase in 2013-14;
    • provisions for 15 “step” increases in pay;
    • increase in payment (phased from $978 mo. to $998 mo.) toward employee and family’s group medical, dental, vision, life insurance;
    • 100% of Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) retirement benefits payments—including both the employer’s and the employees’ contributions to the PERS retirement plan for full-time employees.

The main areas of contention are two concessions sought by the school district:

1. Payment of employee benefits should be based on the number of hours worked (currently the District pays $978 every month toward the cost of health benefits for bus drivers who are on-the-job as little as 4-5 hours per day and the District wants part-time employees to start paying a portion of their benefit costs); and

2. The District reserves the right to subcontract for support services when doing so would free up money needed in the classrooms.

The union’s final offer to the school district includes the following key provisions:

  • No subcontracting of support service positions regardless of potential savings for the District and regardless of any financial benefit that would result for the students and classrooms.
  • The District shall continue paying all costs for health care benefits (approx. $12,000 per year, per employee) for all employees and their families–full-time and part-time.
  • The District is to continue paying full benefit costs for both spouses in a family who both work for the District ($24,000 per year), even though the cost for one employee could be saved by listing him or her as a family member.
  • If one spouse agrees to “participate in the Opt Out Program,” the District will be required to pay $5,000 per year to that spouse’s Section 125 “cafeteria” account.
  • Compensation for teachers shall increase by 1% for 2012-13, in addition to the “step” pay increases, longevity increases and special duty pay for which teachers may currently qualify.

Here’s my analysis:   Since the existing union/school district contract was the starting point of the failed negotiations, I started my research by reading it. The 2008-11 collective bargaining agreement  contains the following provisions for Eagle Point teachers:

  1. Maximum work year of 190 days (38 weeks on the job; 14 weeks off);
  2. No more than 176 “pupil contact” days (35.2 weeks of actual teaching);
  3. Not more than 7 ½ hours of work per day—lunch break not included.
  4. All negotiated pay increases;
  5. Additional automatic “step” pay increases available: 3.4% each year (15 steps in the first 15 years of employment), compounded annually;
  6. Additional 3.4% of base pay available in every year when 15 credit hours of education is completed;
  7. Additional 3% of base pay each year after 14 years;
  8. Additional 2% of base pay each year after 18 years;
  9. District pays $978 per month toward cafeteria plan of health benefits for the entire family;
  10. Full District pays 100% PERS benefits, including both the employer’s and employees’ portions.
  11. District pays health benefits after retirement at the rate paid on date of retirement and continuing until retiree reaches age 65 (some reductions forthcoming).

I have spoken to representatives for Eagle Point School District 9. The District has spent more than $1 million in the past year from its reserves. Thus, it is already spending at an unsustainable rate. By June 30, 2012, the District will have just over $3.7 million remaining in its Reserve Fund. To finance the District’s final offer will cost the District an additional $500,000 from its reserves by June 30, 2013. If the District were to accept the union’s final offer, it would cost the District an additional $1 million and leave its Reserve Fund with only $2.7 million remaining by June 30, 2013.

I chided the District for spending down its reserves when there is no economic recovery on the horizon and the high cost of Oregon’s social programs is likely to cause further flat-lining of state support for K-12 education. The District expressed pride in its teachers, its students and the progress being made in the quality of student achievement. Unfortunately, to balance its budget, even without additional costs, the District must either continue spending its reserves, cut teachers or cut the number of school days in the school year. Students cannot be taught if their school is closed. So far, the decision has been to spend down reserves, and everyone agrees this is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. The District is convinced it is doing everything possible to reach an agreement with the union while staying true to the District’s primary mission of providing the best education possible for Eagle Point students within the financial resources the State and taxpayers have provided to it.

The union, on the other hand, is working for its members and not the students. This is what unions do. One official involved with the negotiations recalled that when an issue came up that would have cost $100,000, the District said there was no money to pay for it. The union representative’s response was the District could just lay off a teacher. Once again union representatives take the position, if you have to lay off teachers and cut school days to get the public to raise taxes and spend more money on education, then that is what you should do.

For decades the public unions have held the power in collective bargaining negotiations.   They repeatedly have gotten their demands by threatening to walk off the job and strike. Now the money has run out and further tax increases are “off the table.” There is no longer an alternative. Public agencies and school districts are being forced to stand firm.

In response, the unions call for a strike and focus on generating propaganda to coerce public agencies to cave under misinformed pressure from the media and public—even using children for union purposes. I’ve seen this done at the Capitol when young children were brought in to beg legislators to vote for higher allocations to the State K-12 Budget. Now we are seeing Eagle Point High School students being used as pawns for the teachers’ union.

It is time for such antics to stop. The unions are all about maintaining power and getting concessions for their members—I understand that. Nevertheless, public agencies and school districts cannot just raise the price of their products or move production off-shore like businesses would to deal with escalating labor costs.

The Eagle Point School District has limited financial resources. It relies on taxpayers to provide its funding and must live within its means.

It is my opinion that the citizens should stand with their School District and resist the union’s threats and bluster. If the teachers believe a $92,000 annual pay package for 38 weeks of work is too low, let them walk off the school grounds and strike. But, they should not be surprised or complain when the School District hires new teachers, who would be happy to have the pay and benefits the union members disparage.

The public employee unions have extorted too much from the taxpayers for too long. The cost of salaries, 100% payment of Benefits and 100% payment of PERS costs is running Eagle Point School District’s well dry. If the public employee unions refuse to acknowledge the economic realities being faced daily by the average taxpayer and refuse to cooperate with our public servants who must live within their budgets, their union members will have to live with the consequences.

The focus should be on the best interests of the students, their classrooms and their teachers, and balancing these needs with the resources available to the School District. I believe the Eagle Point School District is attempting to do this, and I, for one, will stand with them. If a strike results, so be it.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, Public Employee Unions | 25 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    Frankly the last one is absolutely hilarious. Paying health benefits after retirement until this slug is 65?

    Why are we paying for some fool to retire at 60 when most of the kids they are teaching will probably hear about retirement as this quaint old custom that a couple of generations got, but because of their greed future generations wont have.

    Look, the solution is really simple here.

    At $58,000 per year you could probably find qualified candidates to fill
    these positions in a matter of hours. Id suggest letting the union go,
    and rehiring new people. If the union wants to work for the current offer thats fine. If they don’t they are free to seek work elsewhere, just as the school should be free to hire those who will work at the pay offered.

    If the school cannot find anyone to work for the pay offered, then they will probably have to givwe the union a call.

    If they can find people to work for the wage offered, then the union demands were out of line with the job at hand.

    My guess?

    You offer $58k a year with the gold plated goodie package outlined above, and you will probably have people who actually have degrees in the subjects they would teach lined up at the door the next day, ready to go to work.

    Personally I am getting a little sick of “retired” teachers at 55. 

    • JoelinPDX

      The thing is Rupert, education degrees are for simpletons. I recall when my ex-wife went for her master’s degree. The school suggested that she get her minor in education because it was so simple. 

      So she declared an education minor and took classes in how to operate slide projectors. That’s right…she got master’s level credit for learning how to work a slide projector.

      • Ardbeg

        Ok, not only are you a fool but you are also a liar!

        From Univ of Phoenix Website:

        Master of Arts in Education/Administration and
        Supervision

        38 credits at a cost of about $600 per credit or $23,000.

        *Orientation to admin and supervision. *Professional
        communication. *Leadership and collaboration.* Equity and Diversity in ED.*School
        Law.*Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. *Instructional Leadership. *Business
        and Facilities Management.*Human Resources.*Family community and media.*Action
        research.*School improvement/*Admin Internship

        I don’t see any classes on slide projectors. And by the way, teachers haven’t used ‘slide projectors’ since the 50’s.  I get it. You hate anyone in a union:teachers, cops, firemen, state employees, etc. Do you expect anyone to believe your “That’s right…she (ex wife-big surprise) got master’s level credit for learning how to work a slide projector.” I’m sorry that teachers, cops and firemen make more that a communications consultant but that’s life. Quit hating on people who are better off than you. Just had a plumber to my house to help with a bathroom remodel. Paid him $80 an hour.  So I pay an average of $65 an hour for a teacher, cop, or fireman. Big deal, still cheaper than the plumber.

        • Joe

          Plumbers are trained professionals and must earn a living wage.

          • Ardbeg

            And I was happy to pay

    • Ardbeg

      Rupert, I think your missing the point. Many organizations both public and private offer incentives for older more costly employees to retire. Early retirement is nothing new. Unload the costly experienced employee and hire two for the same price. Early retirement is going away in the private sector and the public sector may follow suite.  I would prefer to see it as an option to public employees, it’s a public relations nightmare but ends up costing the taxpayer less overall.

      • Rupert in Springfield

         > it’s a public relations nightmare but ends up costing the taxpayer less overall.

        Do you have any evidence of this? Because if not you are missing the point here. Public employees seem to be able to retire at an earlier age than most
        would think is reasonable. They do so with a benefit plan that is absurd
        in more than a few cases.

        The only way getting an older employee to retire and hiring a younger one at a lower wage to take their place is if one condition is met – The cost of the older employee on retirement, plus the wage of the new younger employee, must be less than the cost of the older employee while they were working.

        Is there any evidence to support this contention, which is crucial for your idea to be true?

        Considering the diamond encrusted platinum plated gold base retirement public employees seem to get, this is very likely not the case. Given that plenty of PERS employees get paid more while retired than they did working, your explanation probably wouldn’t hold up.

        • Ardbeg

          Why can’t you give an incentive to a top of the scale teacher, around 70k in most large districts. Then hire a bottom of the scale new teacher for 35k? Even if the district gives that older teacher the 35k they would save as an incentive, and I doubt this is the amount, they would break even the first year and save big $$ the following year and many years after. No I don’t have a lot of evidence but the math is simple enough to understand.  I do know the district were I live does have an early retirement option but I don’t have the details. I know the district my wife teaches in does not have one. Her explanation is it’s a monthly stipend that allows older teachers to retire at 62 and use that stipend to help with insurance costs until age 65. I’m sure the details vary by which districts offer it.

  • HBguy

    This is the behavior that made me give up my democratic registration.

    A true progressive is more concerned about quality education and fairness than about preserving the overly generous benefits for long term public employees. I have a feeling that true progressives could work with Rep. Richardson to achieve a better educational system.

    It’s been pretty clear at least for the last ten years, that the public employees unions represent first and foremost tier one and two public employees. They’re ready to throw newer employees, and the public, and any democrat who strays one iota from their agenda, under the bus if that’s what it takes to preserve their PERS and their medical benefits undisturbed. 

    Generous public employee compensation doesn’t mean good or fair or just government. But right now, the democratic party and it’s leaders believe it does. 100% of the time. 

    • GretaN

      A “true progressive” – as in those who say NO to nuclear, coal, and offshore drilling? Who promote Single Payer, Improved and
      Expanded Medicare for all as the solution to the health care crisis? Who push for “effective” gun control? Who advocate a strong United Nations as the guarantor of world peace,
      markedly reducing the U.S. military budget and instituting a Department of
      Peace???? KEEP YOUR POISON TO YOURSELVES, “PROGRESSIVES.”

      • HBguy

        Even assuming your definition of progressive is accurate, I don’t see how someone with those positions would be prevented from working with Rep. Richardson on ways to reform and improve public education financing and deliver. 

        Would they? Should people work together in areas that they agree on? Or not.

  • JoelinPDX

    Teachers again proving they have no interest in education and every interest in their salaries and retirement benefits. This is another good reason teachers should not be unionized. In fact, no public employee should be represented by a union. At bottom line, union representation of public employees is a conflict of interest.

    • Ardbeg

      By your logic (or lack of) fireman and cops don’t care about their job or who they serve just because they fight for the best possible compensation?

  • Tleerigdon

    This needs to be repeated over and over and over again!

    • Misspolitical

      I feel for the middle class people like myself who actually pay the high dollar tax on these up roars from the public school system. Needless to say– I pay for private education on top of that to make sure my kids graduate to become better than that. It amazes me how the opinions on the net go no farther than these people typing a vent message from their cell, computer, etc . The question is what do these people actually do about it. ? I don’t think they care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Larry-Sparks/100000792793213 Larry Sparks

    This just demonstrates that the Teachers Union only care about power and not about students. It is about money and retirement benefits and the students come last. The parents of these students need to wake up and realize that the students are being emotionaly manipulated. It is time to strip the union of its power.  

  • Tome

    As a EX School teacher I feel the Unions have ruined this world. Back in the 30’s and 40’s the union did a lot of good. Since then it has taken us down big time. I quit because they said I had to join the Union! I figured why make some Unuion boss rich. I went to work in sales and masde better money than teaching. Did not have to put up with the Bull Crap!

    • Freddy

      However, did your sales job give you summers off, spring off, Christmas off, Thanksgiving off, etc.??? Time off is why most go into education. No other job in the country has a work schedule of only 180+ or – days in the entire year. Except maybe firemen.

  • Laura

    Wow. You all read ONE side of this from a LAWYER (yes, I understand he is a Representative now- but he is still a lawyer) and you attack teachers because of what is being said from someone that is on the district’s side.  $58,000 is the average yearly pay for a teacher. They don’t work only 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I understand that is what their contract specifies, but I know many teachers (from different school districts) and they are often at the school at 7 a.m., there until 5:30 or 6 p.m., and grading homework, and creating lesson plans on the weekends. I’d estimate closer to 55-60 hours per week of work for teachers. The “other” $34,000 is not cash to the teachers. It is compensation… sick days, vacation days, health insurance costs and PERS. (I understand that they will get their PERS at retirement, so don’t jump on that bandwagon).  How come this article didn’t talk about how much Ms. Rickert’s pay is costing the district per year? I’ll bet her compensation package is over $200,000 and I guarantee she only works 40 hours per week- or less.  And she isn’t there for those 14 weeks during the summer either.  Or how about any of the other district officials? Their pay package isn’t mentioned in this article either, but I will guarantee that each of them receive over $100,000 and never step a foot in the classroom.
    So before jumping to conclusions about “unions” and how greedy teachers are, take a look at both sides and see what is going on behind the scenes. Like… district officials required teachers to lie to students and tell them that they did not know what is going on with the strike.  And do you realize that the district is spamming parents who gave their email addresses to be used for report cards and teacher communication only? I’ve heard from a number of parents who are quite upset that the district would use their email for this purpose. For clarification, they aren’t sending home bargaining meeting minutes, they are concocting lies and propoganda in regards to teachers. 
    So, please read about both sides before passing judgement.

    • HBguy

      Wow, someone should have said Rep. Richardson was a LAWYER. that totally changes my mind…..wait….isn’t Obama a lawyer too? And Abe Lincoln, and John Adams, Bill Clinton (OK forget that last one).

    • Margaret

      I am a teacher and you are right. I don’t get enough prep time at work (only get 30 minutes before school, 45 after, and 55 during the day plus lunch for 30 minutes) so I have to take stuff home to work on all the time. Luckily my daughter is in AP lit so she helps me grade student papers all the time. She is really good at it and I pay her $5.00 a night for doing so. But, still, I work much harder than I should have to for such a crummy wage.

    • Teach

      I agree. I am a teacher, too, and I work at least 100 or more hours each week grading papers, filling out budget requests, sending notes to parents, helping students with homework, planning lessons, making tests, doing grades for mid-term reports, helping other teachers with their planning, etc., etc.
      The work never ends. I figure I only make about $22 an hour which is less than a factory worker making a silly car. And I help mold and shape lives.

  • TheTeacher

    Teachers are professionals. We work very hard. I am with students for almost 5 whole hours each of the 170 days I work with them. That is a lot of time and effort for $68,500, which is what I make now plus some benefits. However, PERS is just a 401 K now, and who knows what I will get when I retire? Most likely not a living wage.
    And don’t get me started on grading papers at home, staying late at school (after 3:00 sometimes), having to go to parent conferences in the night (although we do get off school for this), having to stay current in all the latest education theory, etc. Believe you me, this is HARD.
    Anyone who has not had to face down a classroom of 23 students and has tried and tried to teach them has no right to criticize anything. I am working on my PhD now so I can get up another notch on the salary schedule, so will be at 70K plus in two more years with a lifetime appointment. Still, though, my love for students has caused me to enter a profession where I know I make less than anyone else in the private sector. I am not complaining, though, just saying don’t be critical of me and mine until you have worn our many hats and walked a couple miles in our shoes.
    Then I will listen. But only then.
    Now I am counting the days to summer “break” where I will read and study and freshen up my techniques – I will not be relaxing the entire 2 1/2 months I have “off” as many might suspect.

  • J Darwin

    Here are Representative
    Richardson’s claims and the facts:

     

    Claim: “I cannot remain silent when surrogates for a
    teachers’ union encourage 100 Eagle Point High School
    (EPHS) students to
    break school rules, march off campus and stage a protest to ‘respect the
    teachers.’ Such a stunt, implicitly intended to pressure the school district to
    accept the union’s final offer and avoid the strike that the union called, is
    despicable.”

     

    Fact: Neither the union leadership nor the teachers knew
    about the students plan to walk out until about an hour before they did. I know
    this for a fact because I serve as a member of the executive council for Eagle
    Point Education Association (EPEA) and I am a classroom teacher at the high
    school. My own students kept their plans secret from me until 4th
    period (one period prior to their walk out). Shortly after I heard about it, I
    received an email from the principal, sent to every teacher, that we were
    directed to read to the students, which I did. The email read:

     

    “We have information
    that there is a planned walkout in support of our teachers scheduled for this
    afternoon…while we understand that these are very emotional times, and students
    want to express support for their teachers, the current situation in our school
    district is a disagreement between the school board and the teachers’ union.
    Our teachers’ union has the legal right to strike, and our administration has
    the legal responsibility to protect the safety of all of our students. There
    are legal alternatives for students to show their support for our teachers, but
    a walk-out during the school day is not one of those legal alternatives.

     

    If you choose to leave
    class, there are consequences outlined in our student handbook, and athletic
    and activity contracts that will be followed. At a minimum an automated phone
    call will notify your parents that you were not in attendance for class.

     

    Please make good
    decisions. All of us, teachers and administrators, want you in class and
    learning!”

     

    My Analysis:

     

    If Representative Richardson’s
    claim was correct, I would wholeheartedly agree with his characterization of it
    as “despicable.” However, he is wrong, which means, he is either the sort of
    man who is willing to present his own presumptions as fact, or he is
    consciously attempting to deceive each of the recipients of his email.

     

    Claim: “Notwithstanding the misinformation given to the
    students, the impasse in collective bargaining has everything to do with money
    and power, and nothing to do with respecting the good teachers of EPHS.” 

     

    Fact: The district and the union are in basic agreement
    on compensation and benefits. Staff and teachers of district 9 understand that
    in difficult economic times, everyone needs to make sacrifices. Teachers will
    take a 0% cost of living adjustment for another year (four years so far), and
    have come to something close to agreement with the district on the remainder of
    the compensation and benefits issues.

     

    Claim: “The annual average payroll package for teachers
    will total $92,000 by the third year of the proposed labor contract. The
    $92,000 cost for each teacher position is for 190 days work. [To be specific,
    190 days at 7.5 hours per day = 1425 hours per year or $64.82 per hour.]”

     

    Fact: In the first place, these numbers are irrelevant to
    the current labor dispute. Second, the numbers are misleading. Here is how
    District 9 arrives at the number $92,000:

     

    Average Teacher Salary:
    $58,257

    Health Insurance: $11,976

    Average PERS: $17,477

    Average Other Payroll
    Costs: $4,661

     

    First, let’s look at
    average teacher salary. I will
    attach a link to our current contract. http://www.eaglepnt.k12.or.us/Files/Signed%20Employee%20Contract%202008-2011%209.4.2009.pdf

     

    If you scroll down to page
    63, you’ll find the salary schedule. As you can see, it’s a little complicated,
    but the idea is, the more education a teacher has, and the longer they’ve been
    teaching, the more they can earn. A first year teacher at the bottom of the
    schedule makes $34,277. If that teacher has a master’s degree (and all new
    teachers hired by school district 9 do), they make an additional $1,714 a year.
    A teacher at the top of the pay scale with a master’s degree can earn $66,412.
    From those two extremes, I have to scratch my head. How did District 9 arrive
    at an “average teacher salary” of $58,000?

     

    My analysis: The only way I can imagine that D9 could arrive at
    the figure of an average salary of $58,000, is by including money some teachers
    earn through extra duty contracts. Extra duty contracts are extra pay teachers
    receive for taking on jobs above and beyond teaching, like coaching and
    advising. I am speculating here, but otherwise, I can’t see that $58,000
    average.

     

    Health Insurance $11,976: Yes. That is a correct number and it’s a
    completely crazy number. I have chosen the least expensive health insurance
    option, which leaves me with a $1,000 deductible, and I still get $120 deducted
    from my check every month to pay for my health insurance. This means that my
    health insurance, with a $1,000 single person deductible and a $3,000 family
    deductible costs, in total, $14,50.44 a year. If you want to know why school
    districts are struggling for money, the exorbitant cost of health insurance is
    a good place to look.

     

    My analysis: If Representative Richardson wants to do something
    to help schools save money, a great place to start would be by finding a way to
    control sky-rocketing health insurance costs. Rather than creating a smoke
    screen of blame against teachers, this would actually be constructive.

     

    Average PERS $17,477: I have checked my PERS Annual Statement for 2010
    (the most recent one I have), and saw, under the column marked Employee
    Contributions in 2010, $3,218.52. So, I am puzzled by how the district arrived
    at $17,477.

     

    Average Other Payroll
    Costs $4,661: I have looked at my
    pay stub and the only thing I see that this could be is a combination of
    FICA/Medicare and Workers Comp. Insurance.

     

    Claim: “Teachers work 7.5 hours per day.”

     

    Fact: Current contract allows teachers to arrive no later
    than 15 minutes prior to the start of the school day, and to leave no earlier
    than 15 minutes after the school day. Our contract was written with the
    understanding that teachers take work home. According to a recent survey, the
    average teacher work-week for D9 teachers is 52 hours. Teachers are not hourly
    employees. They put in the time that’s required to do their job.

     

    Claim: “The main areas of contention are two concessions
    sought by the school district:

    1. Payment of
    employee benefits should be based on the number of hours worked (currently the
    District pays $978 every month toward the cost of health benefits for bus
    drivers who are on-the-job as little as 4-5 hours per day and the District
    wants part-time employees to start paying a portion of their benefit costs);
    and

    2. The District reserves
    the right to subcontract for support services when doing so would free up money
    needed in the classrooms.”

     

    Fact: At the time of Representative Richardson’s
    newsletter, there were actually three issues of contention, the two that he
    listed, and prep time/classroom instructional time.

     

    A Explanation of the
    Issues of Contention from a Teacher’s Point of View:

     

    * Article 5 Prep time and classroom instructional time:
    The district wants to create 6 period day at the high school,
    where every teacher teaches all six classes from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm. High
    school students need 24 credits to graduate. Only giving them 6 periods a day
    means that, to graduate, they must pass every class for all four years. A six
    period day also squeezes out elective classes, study skills classes, and
    advanced college preparatory classes. We are concerned that because students
    will no longer have room in their schedule to take electives, programs will be
    eliminated. 

     

    Another reason this is
    a bad idea: According to the
    National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), 46% of teachers
    leave the profession within the first 5 years. According to an article in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/03/08/high-teacher-turnover-rates-are-a-big-problem-for-americas-public-schools/),
    estimates put the cost of teacher turn-over at $7.8 billion dollars a year.
    According to Governor Kitzhaber, teachers leaving the profession costs Oregon
    taxpayers $45 million a year. Chris Dudley, his Republican opponent in the last
    election, agrees, writing “At a time when we must scrutinize every tax dollar,
    one of the smartest investments we can make is to keep highly effective
    teachers in Oregon classrooms led by effective administrators.” http://www.oregonlive.com/hovde/index.ssf/2010/10/teacher_turnover_rates_lack_of.html

     

     

    Why do teachers leave the
    profession?

    According the U.S. Department
    of Education, 65% cite lack of planning time and 60% cite too heavy a workload
    as reasons for leaving. These are teachers who still have preparatory time
    scheduled within the instructional day. District 9’s proposal would take
    that away, forcing teachers to spend more time planning outside of the school
    day while increasing their workload. There is a point where a person just can’t
    do anymore. This proposal would push D9 teachers beyond that point.

     

    * Article 22 Prorating insurance for part time staff:
    Allowing the district to do this would give them an incentive to replace full
    time employees with part time staff. Our full time classified employees build
    lasting relationships with our students and inspire them toward greater
    success. Ask yourself, if you’ve ever worked a part time job, did you feel as
    invested in your work as you did when you worked full time?

     

     

    Finally, how can you
    expect someone working 25 hours a week for $12.00 an hour to pay several
    hundred dollars a month for health insurance?

     

    * Article 2 Subcontracting: The district wants to be able
    to hire private companies to perform the functions that have traditionally been
    done in house by school districts. Our bus drivers, our maintenance department,
    and our technology department would be especially vulnerable. Just a few
    minutes research on “First Student” busing company (which would be
    the likely busing provider for our district if they subcontracted) shows a
    pattern of safety violations, lawsuits, and other headaches for school districts
    that hire them.

     

    In addition, keeping local
    staff local means keeping taxpayer money in the community, not having our tax
    dollars vacuumed off to some corporate headquarters somewhere.

     

    Claim: “The union
    is working for its members and not the students.”

     

    Fact: I don’t know who Representative Richardson thinks
    the union is. The union is the teachers, the custodians, the bus drivers, the
    secretaries, the instructional aides, the maintenance personnel… it’s all of
    us. Every day, we work for the students. The issue in D9 is simply that the
    administrators in the district office (along with 3/5’s of the school board),
    and the employees who are working in the schools with the students, simply have
    different visions about what is best for kids.

     

    Claim: “The unions call for a strike and focus on
    generating propaganda to coerce public agencies to cave under misinformed
    pressure from the media and public—even using children for union purposes.”

     

    Fact: I will let the reader decide who is generating
    propaganda. While Representative Richardson is attacking teachers on his email
    newsletter, and while District 9 is mailing letters home to parents minimizing
    the work teachers do, and while robo-calls are made from an anonymous source
    that slanders teachers, we teachers have been working our 52 hours a week for
    our students. We have no public relations plan, no propaganda machine (though
    it is clear that we desperately need one)—we’re just teachers, tired, often
    overwhelmed, and obviously, under attack.

     

    As a classroom teacher for
    13 years, and one who serves as member of the EPEA Executive Council, I find it
    insulting that Representative Richardson would assert that I would ever use
    children as tools for “union purposes.” This is a personal attack and it is a
    lie.

     

    My Summative Analysis:

     

    While the teachers of
    School District 9 were working for our students, Representative Dennis
    Richardson was sending out mass emails, filled with false information, to
    poison the public’s attitude toward teachers.

     

    The job of being a teacher
    is both difficult and honorable. A lot of people say to me, why don’t you do a
    better job getting out the teacher’s side? The problem is, we are teachers not
    public relations experts, and we’re too busy being teachers to take the time to
    defend ourselves. Plus, as you can see from this response, the issues are
    complex and don’t fit within a 30 second sound-bite. 

     

    If you have taken the
    time to read this response, then you obviously are someone who considers both
    sides of every argument. You are the type of person I encourage my students to
    be, and, as I tell my students, it’s not important that we always agree, but
    that we think critically and look at both sides of every argument, and draw our
    own conclusions. 

     

    From my perspective, the
    source of this problem is that the funding mechanism for public education is
    broken and that can only be fixed in Salem, something that Representative
    Richardson seems to have no intention of doing.

     

    Personally, I want my
    elected representatives to have honor and integrity. They do not need to always
    agree with me, but I want to know that the people we have representing us in
    Salem are thoughtful people who look at all sides of an issue and work to
    create solutions. His newsletter makes it clear; Dennis Richardson is not that
    kind of person.

     

    We have given Dennis
    Richardson 3 terms to help fix the problems we face in education, and the best
    he can do is malign teachers. It’s time we elected someone else.

     

     

    Respectfully

    Jay D. Schroder

    Language Arts Teacher at
    Eagle Point High School

    Member of Executive
    Council of EPEA 2011-2012

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