Monday, September 8, 2008

The Strike Continues...

Well, the strike is still going on. Week #2. The weather has been delightful, so that is a plus! We went to a great place called Kidz Rule to bounce and jump and get out excess energy!

The kids are doing great, but they really want to go back to school. Today, Jen let them holler out the window when she rode by the striking teachers. The teachers were holding their "We want a contract" signs so the kids yelled "We want to go back to school!"

Here is one of the issues: "The 512-member teachers' union is especially focused on improving starting pay - which at $37,323 puts Souderton at the bottom in Montgomery County and among the bottom in the Pennsylvania suburbs." Doylestown Intelligencer
I wonder why they don't go to another district if that pay is too small. I mean, I have been a social worker for 10 years, and I don't make that much money yet. Now, if I wanted to get certified to be a PA teacher, I could. AND, I could also decide which district I wanted to teach in. If Souderton was too low, then I would LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE!
Here is one other thing the teachers want that is blowing me AWAY.... 8.4% raises for the next 5 years. I don't think the school board is going to give it to them, and I am thankful for that. We haven't even gotten our .5% raises for the last 4 years in the social service field. Not even one cost of living raise. NONE!
Alright...enough of my complaining. What do you think about strikes?


Anonymous said...

This sounds one sided to me, Rebeckah.

Never have so few owed so much to so many.

Gary Adams Jr.

stargurrl13 said...

I think these teachers are intelligent and creative enough to present their demands and work to get them approved without putting a whole district's kid's education on hold for a month.

My mother always said, "You should choose your job because you love, not for how much it will pay you."

Too bad you can't form a student picket line across the street with signs like "We want to learn!" and "See what my teacher has taught me this year...I know how to picket!"

Jessican said...

I am very conflicted about teachers striking. On the one hand, it is hard to attract qualified teachers for one of the most important jobs a person could ever seek if they don't have competitive pay. On the other hand, striking at the expense of kids never feels right to me and I'm uneasy about teacher unions.

I have many family members that teachers and some are active in unions so I feel some sympathy, but as Heather's mom said, you really should choose your job because you love it, not for the money. This is, however, exactly what my husband did after teaching 3rd grade for 10 years. He was tired of being poor and driving a broken down car so he went back to grad school and never looked back. The district lost one of their most gifted and qualified teachers who genuinely loved the students and changed some lives.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Hey Rebeckah. I'm a recruiter so I see (directly) how the economy is affecting people. Here in GA I have WAY more applicants than I have jobs (which is a rarity in the industry I work in.... it's a very high pressure, high stress environment... I almost always have way more JOBS than people.. However, not now.)

Teachers deserve to make a LOT more than they make. However, the cold hard facts are we are in a NASTY recession. Revenues are down. The tax base is down. Foreclosures are up, layoffs are up. At the end of the day, the bottom line figures most likely cannot justify what they are asking for. Granted, I live in GA and this is in PA; however, these grim statistics are nationwide.

I just placed someone a week ago who took a 50% CUT to get a new job. FIFTY PERCENT!!!! That is huge.

Times are very tough right now. I feel for the teachers (like I said, I think they SHOULD be paid more) but will they be able to get what they want in this economy...? Probably not. Sad, but true.

photowannabe said...

Hate strikes and often don't think thy make anyone happy. In light of the downturn in the economy perhaps those teachers should be glad they have jobs and haven't been laid off like so many in the working world.
In the long run the kids suffer. They get far behind and have to make up school days which will probably cut into next summers vacation time.

Jason said...

First of all, I can't believe social workers don't make more money! Talk about one of the most draining jobs in extistence! I'm sorry you haven't gotten a raise in such a long time.

Second, is that an 8.4 percent raise every year for the next five years, or is it 8.4 percent over the five year span? 8.4 percent each year would certainly be excessive and wouldn't justify a strike in my book!

We have come close to striking a couple of times, but never have actually had to do it. I would have a very hard time doing it, even though I do belong to the union. Our union has done a great job in making sure that it doesn't get that far, and so has our district.

But as far as just changing districts for better pay? It's not so simple. When teachers transfer to other districts they often lose all of their years of salary credit, meaning they have to start over again at the bottom of the salary scale.

The sad fact remains that it is nearly impossible for a young teacher to support a family on a single salary. I struggled so much for the first few years.

The good news is, now that I've been teaching for 16 years, here in CA my salary is actually pretty decent. There are lots of extra work opportunities for me in my district, too.

So does that answer your question? It's a hard situation, that's for sure. I'm glad I'm not faced with it.

I hope for the kids' (and parents', and teachers' sakes) it ends very soon!

THE ROOST said...

The kids are suffering because the adults are acting like children and not adults! They want to go to school! That is a good thing!

Rebeckah said...

Jason, They do want 8.4% EACH year for the next 5 years because they feel they are so far behind the other districts in our area. The school board has offered them 3.4% every year for the next 5 years, but they refuse to settle. Thanks for your great input!

I appreciate all of the things I have learned from all of you. Everyone had great ideas and input. Thank you!

Ragan said...

I think the whole thing is crazy and I do see both sides. I just hope they get it settled soon and your kiddos can get back in school. So glad to hear they're enjoying their extra time off though.

I also agree that social workers are underpaid (that and the fact that they're so overworked was what scared me away). YOU deserve a raise!

Completely off topic, but thanks for the compliments on my music :) You can set up a playlist for your blog at and search for the songs you like to add to it... or you can just wait until you have me design your blog and I'll do it for you ;) Speaking of which, I was going to tell you that since you're such a faithful follower on my blog ;) I'll give you a nice discount when you do order.

David said...

You're definitely right that a teacher strike is hard for the parents. However encouraging teachers to look somewhere else isn't a good thing for your child. Do you really want the skilled and talented teachers in your district going to teach somewhere else? Also, you need to remember that in a negotiation the parties always begin with a "wish list" and move toward their best alternative options. So while the union's demands many seem extreme, they are most likely merely starting points rather than absolute demands.

Interestingly, many of the commenters are making arguments or statements that support voting for Obama. First, the lagging economy creating a clut in the job market. Think about why the economy is suffering. The Republicans have failed to regulate the securities and credit markets. This have created an environment where Wall Street has been able to defraud (Enron just entered into a $7.9 billion settlement with its investors- mainly CALPERS the pention program for CA state employees), oversell (CountryWide), take the profits, and leave taxpayers with the bill. Additionally, the Bush/McCain tax policy is aimed at supporting capital and not labor. As a consequence, American productivity increases every year while wages are flat. Whenever the tax policy favors capital instead of labor, working class Americans must carry the load.

Secondly, Obama favors increased federal spending on education and creating charter schools while McCain favors school vouchers for parents. Using Philadelphia as a model, charter schools have shown to be no better than schools run by the school district. Thus, vouchers would do nothing for parents in Philadelphia that don't want to send their children to Catholic schools which are the only private schools that are affordable for working families in Philadelphia. Competition is a start, but just like No Child Left Behind it doesn't go far enough. Michelle Re in Washington DC is demonstrating that when teachers get the support they need, kids get the education they deserve. School choice and competition is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Unfortunately, McCain does not support increased federal spending on schools for many reasons- he once advocated abolishing the Dept of Education- but primarily its that instead of spending money on schools he prefers to continue spending $10 billion a month in Iraq despite Iraq's $79 billion surplus and continued tax cuts for Wall Street.

Just something for you to think about Becky.

Grandma J said...

I've been on both sides of the union fence. The last time I was a union member because it was MANDATORY! I am not a great believer in unions, I don't like my dues going to PACs that go against my political leanings. I also know that the benefits are paid by the agency or company, not the unions.
As far as teachers...I agree that they deserve more money, however, private schools do more with less money per student. I think the public school system spends more on administration than teaching. The system is top heavy, and the unions aren't good advocates for their members. I know teachers who are in the union because they have to be. Going on strike doesn't benefit anyone. I also agree with you, Rebeckah and Stargurrl.

I heart you, Kaishon!!

Erica said...

I think everything is perspective, wouldn't we all like the oppurtunity to go on strike until our employer agrees to pay us more?
I agree they are under payed but to others they would be thrilled to make that amount. I agree with you Becky, if you don't make enough money then go somewhere else.
I also have a problem with strikes because while teachers are worried about how much they should be making, kids are missing out on being educated and at the end of the day that is what is important, especially when you can go somewhere else and teach.
In this economy no one is getting raises like they are demanding. I wish but it is not happening. Everyone is suffering. The truth is how many of us have to work twelve months out of every year? They get two months off. So they get thirty seven plus dollars to work ten months.
I don't feel sorry for them.

DD said...

As a teacher, I couldn't agree with you more. I am not a fan of the union, especially the PA one I was in. They were strike happy!