A number of New York City teacher-bloggers are ruminating on the city’s tentative new contract, which would increase teachers’ salaries by 15 percent over roughly four years in exchange for 50 additional minutes of work per week and the loss of some seniority rights in school assignments.
Ms. Fizzle says she’s on the fence in part because she thinks a strike would be unsustainable at this point:
I may not have a mortgage or childcare to pay, but I have Manhattan rent and student loans, and I wouldn't last too long losing two days pay for every day of a strike. And I think [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg would just sit us out. Also, the public hears "15% raise"—they are going to think we're jerks for rejecting that and even bigger jerks if we then walk out of our schools.
After questioning (to put it mildly) the notion that lunchroom duty is a great way for teachers to get to know their students, NYC educator laments that, in his view, the new contract will result in additional time on cafeteria patrol as well an extra class period. The combination, he argues, may prevent teachers from doing activities in which they really do get to know students, such as carefully reading their written work:
Me, I’ll probably move away from essays, and toward multiple choice tests to be pushed through scantrons. How can I read hundreds of papers on a daily basis when I have two other jobs, precious little time to do so, and, apparently, no one in Tweed or the [United Federation of Teachers] who thinks it’s of any value?
Reality-Based Educator says a pair of the United Federation of Teachers representatives paid a visit to his school to make a push for the new contract. It wasn’t, by the blogger’s account, a very effective showing:
These two union fellows, decked out in their expensive suits, oily smiles and shimmering pinkie rings, lied, deceived and filibustered their way through the meeting. ...
One guy, looking like a steroid case with his muscles bursting through his expensive, union-bought suit, played "bad cop" to the other guy's "good cop". They both had that vague "Teamster" look that made you wonder if they were teachers or mobsters. Neither man has been in a classroom any time recently and neither one will have to work under the new contract provisions.
In the end, says RBE, the visit had the opposite effect of what the union intended: “The few fence-sitters at the meeting left saying they were now voting against the contract.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.