Other Voices: Teachers need to take cuts with everyone else
Editor’s note: The author’s name has been withheld to protect her from possible retribution.
I have been reading and observing the debates surrounding local education cuts, and as a teacher within the high school district, I think it’s time that a classroom teacher offered a voice.
The teachers’ union has voiced its opinion, and The Union newspaper has shared its opinion. There are more than 200 teachers in the high school district and the reality is that not everyone is equally represented. The community is not hearing all sides of the story.
Our entire community is faced with tough times. Everyone is making cuts and teachers can be no exception. Why is it so unreasonable for teachers to take a few furlough days just like their brethren in other sectors? We should be thankful we’re keeping our jobs and only facing a few days off. Yes, I understand that it means pay cuts, but in my opinion, a pay cut is a better option than unemployment.
I’m afraid that public opinion is going to start shifting away from teachers. Outsiders see that we work 185 days a year, we get summer vacation, a week at spring break and two weeks at Christmas. Our typical hours are somewhere from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and now our union is complaining about taking furlough days?
I would like the community to see that we are helping their children and that we’re trying to make the best out of a bad situation. It would be a shame if the community started to view teachers as whiners.
I think the teacher’s union needs to evaluate its position, and take a moment to absorb the reality of the current situation. Teachers are asked to do a lot and we work hard. We teach, we correct assignments, we attend meetings, we chaperone dances, we coach sports and lead extracurricular activities. And already we’re being asked to do more with fewer resources. Each piece of the job helps to shape our youth, but we need to take our cuts like everyone else.
Why is it that many young and motivated teachers are getting pink slipped year after year, while older teachers are spending time bickering over the retirement incentives they want for themselves?
A union should be looking out for each and every person who belongs to that group and the NJUHSD teachers union has fallen far short. It appears that there are a few at the top who are working hard to protect their own interests (and retirement incentives) and are not looking out for the teachers at the bottom of the seniority list – generally young teachers with young families.
If the union was looking out for its most vulnerable members, there would never have been a debate about whether or not to take furlough days. Furlough days will save jobs.
I am sending this letter unsigned because I am afraid of the repercussions that I’d face if I signed my name. I hope the community understands that the politics that have become such a big part of this debate are not representative of all the teachers in the district.
I love my job. I love working with high school kids and that’s what I want to do. I’m passionate about it. So, if furlough days will allow teachers to keep their jobs, then what’s the problem?
From anonymous NJUHSD teacher.
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