Monday, November 26, 2007

Shaler teachers reject offer...

Well, this Tattler admits when he is wrong -- and I was mistaken in regards to the teacher's strike. Shaler educators greedily rejected the tentative contract drawn last week over health care premiums, something they have never had to pay for.

From the Post-Gazette:

The sticking point was health-care premiums. While teachers are willing to pick up some of the cost of the premiums for the first time, the proposed payments were too high, she said.

Salaries also are an issue, Ms. Noble said, but not as much of one as health care.

Let's wake up and smell the coffee everyone. We all pay a share (or most of us) for our health care coverage. Why should teachers be treated any differently.

This Tattler thinks it's nice that teachers won't strike right away but these union members need to realize that many community members are paying hundreds upon hundreds of dollars every month for health coverage. Let's be real -- teachers aren't doing this out of kindness but in fear of losing support in the community and beyond.

Paying for health care coverage is a reality that greedy Shaler educators must come to terms with. Yet, another reason to ban teacher strikes in Pennsylvania.

In a letter on the district's Web site from Superintendent Donald Lee:

Shaler Area Education Association has announced that in spite of voting down the tentative agreement they have agreed to return to work on Tuesday, November 27th and continue to negotiate with the district in the hopes they can work to resolve the items that remain in dispute.

This news was certainly welcomed but a bit of a surprise, so I have no more details at this time.

Working to keep you posted...

26 comments:

Brian said...

Jeff,

I suggest you learn the facts before you call Shaler's educators greedy.

Why should Shaler’s teachers accept a raise that doesn't even cover the district's health care plan?

The contract proposal would mean Shaler's teachers would pay MORE for healthcare than ANY other district in Allegheny County. In addition, the proposed “raises” were so uneven across the board, some teachers would actually LOSE money if they accepted the new contract.

Furthermore, the district's proposed raise is lower than what MANY smaller districts are being offered. Why should teachers from district with less money and lower test scores make more than Shaler’s teachers?

You lost your credibility pal when you greedily tattered this post without knowing the facts. The districts offer was average in spots and a joke in others.

Shaler saved more than four million dollars when over 200 teachers retired the last two years. It’s time to offer the teachers a FAIR contract.

I enjoy reading your posts, but, learn the facts please.

Jeff Fuller said...

While I can see some validity in your points, I still think educators need to pay their fair share. They may not be greedy in the Ebenezer Scrooge sense but need to start paying up for health care.

When it comes to schooling, a child's education should be a top priority and go uninterrupted.

Local teacher unions have threatened strike in recent years partly because they do not want to pay for health coverage (North Hills).

When it comes to salaries, I think area teachers do pretty well for only working 10-months out of the year.

Love me, hate me -- this Tattler likes the pressure. Keep the discussion moving along.

Brian said...

Jeff,

Teachers� salaries CANNOT be compared to that of other professionals. It is like comparing apples to oranges. Shaler�s teachers can only be compared to those in other districts, and that is exactly where the contract offer doesn�t stack up.

Shaler is one of the FEW school districts in Allegheny County that pays NOTHING for the additional accreditation the state requires its teachers to obtain. It is also a district that is currently below EVERY other neighboring district as far as salary scale. A teacher can work at Shaler for 10 years and still NOT make 50,000 dollars in base salary. In fact, a teacher at North Allegheny makes almost 200,000 dollars more over the course of a career and a teacher at North Hills, Fox Chapel or Baldwin will make almost 100,000 more.

I understand there is a different tax base in Shaler, but many comparable districts have far better contracts. Besides, Shaler is ALWAYS willing to compare itself to these districts when it comes to PSSA scores.

How many districts approach a bargaining table by acknowledging the fact the current health care system is antiquated? Shaler�s teacher did this. They ARE willing to pay health care premiums. However, they can�t pay MORE than every other district when they are being offered LESS.

The teachers are being everything but greedy. Their decision to not strike has solidified their position of keeping the students No. 1 priority. The decision should be applauded, not criticized.

Shalerparent said...

Wow, a friend directed me to this blog recently and I was enjoying reading the info updates. After the last post by the tattler "admitting they were wrong" though, I won't be returning...for the same reasons I don't get my news from Rush, Howard, Imus, or Quinn. If I wanted laughable version of events I'd break out old tapes of Mark Madden commentating for WCW.

I wish the tattler all the luck in the future with its stories about "Bat Boy" returning to Earth and Nostradamus's predictions about the end of the world in 2012. At this pace, you might start infringing on the Enquirer's circulation. I won't be back to read any of it anymore.

In the next installments, I hope the tattler continues its crusade to compare the employments of Public Employees (PennDot workers, Turnpike toll collectors, educators, Police & Fire departments, County employees ,judges, etc.) to that of the private sector. Especially the comparison of health care contributions and salary. At least start comparing apples to apples....or, is this blog all about comparing Elephants to Donkeys?

Teachers make a decent living, which they should. I challenge anyone who claims a teacher's job is easy for "10 months out of the year" to try it for 2 weeks...assuming you had the degrees and passed the tests to do so. You couldn't handle it.

30% of people who go to college to be a teacher never earn their qualifications. 50% of those who do become licensed quit in the first 5 years. What's the number one reason for both stats? It is work load...not salary or benefits. I'll write it again in case it didn't sink in (the tattler seems to be a bit slow on the uptake) 50% of new teachers stop teaching and start private sector careers because teaching is too much work.

Teachers don't teach to earn a fortune. Teachers who stay in teaching do so because they love helping children learn. What do teachers earn from the public for this? Condescension & Villification.

Before people vote for the "should teacher strike" survey, take a look at the quality of education in the states where teachers cannot strike....or where teachers can't even form unions. You'll notice that there are MUCH higher % of kids enrolled in private schools. When the quality of free education isn't faught for, what happens to the socioeconomic gap in this country?

Or, look at the district gaps just in our North Hills area. Where do teachers have the fairest contracts? In places that are more dense in the 'upper class'. Those are the places where eduation is valued, so, it is no surprise that the very best teachers migrate there.

I pay very high taxes living in Shaler - much more than those who live around me. So, why then, do the teachers in my district make less money than the districts around me? I've watched far too many leave to seek employment at places like Fox Chapel, Avonworth, & Hampton. I want the best teachers to want to teach in Shaler.

Is it greedy to not want to be the lowest paid teachers in the North Hills - almost in ALL of Allegheny County? Seriously.

Does the tattler ever admit when it's asinine?

~shalerparent

Jeff said...

Whoa... ShalerParent take a breather -- calm down.

I think it's strange to compare this blog to the National Enquirer. We certainly don't have their numbers or a great crossword puzzle :)

When I said I was wrong -- it was in regards to proclaiming a week ago that a strike had been averted in Shaler Area School District.

In the midst of these posts I never said that teaching is easy. This Tattler highly respects those who choose that profession -- even a few of my friends have chosen it but left the state in pursuit of jobs.

What it comes down to is that a child's education is vital and I can't stand it when an interruption occurs -- especially the length of Seneca Valley's strike.

While I'm saddened that you won't be back, I urge you to keep on reading and challenging my thoughts. That is what makes community blogs so interesting -- a diverse population of very different views.

I understand people are working to make money -- I just want to get this thing settled once and for all without a strike.

Oh and by the way -- your taxes are so high in Shaler for a variety of reasons but one definately has to be that there really isn't a booming commercial district.

If Ross Township did not have McKnight Road, residents would be facing high taxes as well since the two communities are very similar.

I'm not sure if there is an easy solution to that problem (and maybe we can discuss this through another post), but it seems clear that a solid commercial tax base helps keep costs down.

Keep on truckin' ShalerParent and I welcome your interesting viewpoint in the future.

Jeff said...

I'd like to add that I would like to interview a current Shaler Area teacher about this issue to get their viewpoint.

I could definately keep you anonymous (I think it's important to protect sources) but think it could benefit this conversation.

E-mail me at sirfuller@hotmail.com if interested...

Paul said...

"Is it greedy to not want to be the lowest paid teachers in the North Hills - almost in ALL of Allegheny County? Seriously.

Does the tattler ever admit when it's asinine?"

Yes, it is flat out greed and nothing more. As the first union hack pointed out Shaler recently saw a signficant number of teachers retire recently; that means that a substantial number of current teachers are young and relatvely inexperienced and unions being what they are that means they're at the bottom of the pay scale.

That's the problem with unions, they want it both ways... when the next contract is due to be negotiated and the one after that the now inexperience and young teachers will be demanding even higher salaries based on the experience they've acquired.

Given the demographics of the region, the aging population, the shrinking number of children and the number of unemployed teachers and those with experience who've been forced to leave the region for work you'd think some common sense would take hold amongst the union agitators who've done so much damage to the regional economy - but no, that's to much to expect.

Looking at the final vote I'd say so much for the bogus claims of 50/50 split amongst teachers favoring the agreement. And so it goes, as it always has in SWPA, a minority of greedy slackers will make everyone suffer. It'll be just another decade or so and Shaler will be following in the foot steps of the city schools, declining student population, rising taxes, teacher lay offs...

What little respect I had for teachers shrinks everyday.

Paul said...

"I suggest you learn the facts before you call Shaler's educators greedy.

Why should Shaler’s teachers accept a raise that doesn't even cover the district's health care plan?"

What you mean to say Brian is why shouldn't Shaler tax payers be forced to pay the cost of the teachers health care plan f you have the ability to make them?

You might want to pull you head out of your butt and quit drinking the union kool-aid just long enough to survey the region's economic condition and the demographic trends that have been under way for decades Brian...

Shaler already has some of the highest school taxes of the county's suburban communties - The taxes that will have to be paid to continue giving teachers a free ride, a ride few of us who actually have to work twelve months a years enjoy, on health care will only make the oppressive tax situation worse, drive more business and families out of the area.

Keep believing you can demand more and more from people who have less and less and it won't be long before Shaler teachers will be looking for work in right to work states like so many others before them.

Paul said...

"I'm not sure if there is an easy solution to that problem (and maybe we can discuss this through another post), but it seems clear that a solid commercial tax base helps keep costs down."

The solutions are really quite simple Jeff. You can identify them but looking at the southern communities in right to work states that have been eating SWPA lunch for decades.

The problem is the solutions don't server the entrenched union leadership and hacks like James Burn's interest so we'll just sit back and watch the economic life just drip, drip, drip out of Shaler and the rest of Allegheny County.

Brian said...

Paul,

Your comments are moronic; therefore, I will only respond to your ramblings once.

School taxes are costly – but there is a price to pay for living in an educated society.

If you do not like the taxes, move to the city. Make sure you lock your doors.

As for your comment about losing respect for teachers when you already have little:

Shame on you loser!

Clearly you have no grasp of reality and the importance teachers play in our society. Teachers spend more time with kids than their parents.

I think your boss as the gas station should demand you work more hours next year and then reduce your pay. I would be willing to bet you would be eager to accept his demands without question. You would not want to be greedy.

Lastly, grow up you spineless flub. Anyone can bash teachers anonymously on some Internet blog site.

Anonymous said...

No one is losing anything. Yes, the raise isn't significant in the last year, but there is no loss. Everyone needs to get their facts straight before they come on and ramble on.

Union Lobbyist said...

I see no "ramblings" anonymous.

Then again, I am willing to bet you are one of the few teachers who actually stood to gain from the district’s sub par offer.

Here is an idea:

Look up the word union in the dictionary and then consider acting like you are a part of one.

Jeff said...

Guys,

Try to avoid personal attacks amongst each other. Stick to the issues.

Thanks!

JeffSucks said...

Does calling a group of educators greedy without known the facts count as a personal attack?

Or does the BlogMaster have a double standard on this crappy website?

Anonymous said...

Union lobbyist please don't attack my integrity or commitment to a group. Also, don't assume for a minute that you know how I voted. I made up my own mind based on what I think was best, not necessarily for my family. Also, if you assume that increasing my contribution by $1800 is making out I would hate to think what losing would be.

It's people like you that spout off and fly from the hip that seperate people and groups. You will hide behind the group, find strength in numbers and bend when the circumstance calls for it. Believe in something and stand up for it, I just wanted the complete truth to be out there. Not more lies or cries for public sympathy. I apologize to you union lobbyist, but a liar is a liar. I don't care if they're in the same union or family as me.

Paul said...

Clearly you have no grasp of reality and the importance teachers play in our society. Teachers spend more time with kids than their parents."

You union shills are all the same... sure the teachers spend more time with kids than parents, that's because the teachers union has used the force of government to mandate it so they can justify higher salaries. The countries that are whipping our kids asses in math, reading and science test scores spend far less time with teachers than American kids do. if you're going to kidnap my children so you can hold them for ransom don't expect me to thank you for it.

As for the price of an educated society, I'm well aware of the FACT that since public schools became a reality in the 50's the US has gone from being amongst the most literate industrialized countries to one of the least.

You may be proud of the work you're doing and want more money, but you don't have any right to be.

Paul said...

"As a teacher, I am continually deeply offended by people claiming that I work only a 10-month year and, as a result, should be compensated to a lesser extent than those in other “real” professions. Allow me to disabuse the ignorant masses of their misconceptions."

Don't you worry dear, the trends are undeniable, the destination unmistakable...

If things keep up as they are; over the next 10 years you and a whooooole lot more teachers is Allegheny County won't have to trouble yourselves with getting up and going to that teaching job at all.

I wonder what a Target cashier with a teaching certificate earns?

Seriously, I just got done interviewing and hiring for an entry level customer service job paying less that 20k a year - 60 of the applications were from unemployed teachers, most with a masters, a large number of them former employees of the PPS.

Think you work hard now, wait until you're choosing between moving south to a right to work state or staying in SWPA and saying "fries with that" a couple hundred times a day.

Curious Observer said...

Paul, what do you think a teacher is worth? Could you please tell us what you think a teacher should be paid per year? 1st year? 17th year? 35th year? Does educational preparation make a difference (Master's or Phd?) How about the number of kids taught in one room, or what kind of kids...(i.e. Special Ed, Emotionally disturbed, gifted, physically handicapped, or maybe kids from divorced homes?) If you introduce 'Merit pay' please tell us what you would look for evidence of success. Would it be scores on a test? Thanks.
P.S. I think you may be misinformed on the number of days that kids in Japan and Germany go to school.

Shaler Area Parent said...

I am a Shaler Area parent and taxpayer; I contribute more than $100 per month for health care coverage. I also pay approximately $80 per month for dental coverage and have no vision coverage. From the little information that is available the district has made a modest request of teachers; please understand that the taxpayers are no longer willing to pay for your entire health care coverage. If the district is requesting $1800 per year this sounds very reasonable, please accept their offer so that everyone can get back to the what is important, the education of the students within the Shaler Area School District.

Anonymous said...

Parent,

Your points are well taken. Rising health care costs are becoming a major issue across the country.

I can understand how a group of teachers can appear greedy when many others are paying so much for health and dental care.

However, people cannot forget that health care is part of a teacher's salary package.

Teachers are not paid like those in the business world. Therefore, they shouldn't be compared to them. They should, however, be compared to other districts in Allegheny County.

Everyone is struggling to keep up with the inflation of health care costs, but many others are making more money to offset that struggle.

Anonymous said...

"Please accept their offer so that everyone can get back to the what is important, the education of the students within the Shaler Area School District."

I think I'm a little confused. I was under the impression that the Shaler teachers rejected the contract but DID NOT go out on strike. Are they not currently in the classroom educating the students of Shaler Area? Please correct me if I am wrong!

Shaler Area Parent said...

You are partially correct, health care coverage was part of your salary package unfortunately that contract expired June 30, 2007. It is time to start new just like I did. I initially also had a career where my entire health care coverage was paid by my employer unfortunately that is no longer the case. The sky rocketing heath care costs are something no employer should be required to handle on their own. I did have an option of no health care, contribute something or change career paths, I choose to continue with this employer and contribute to my health care.

The Shaler Area teachers did reject the proposed contact and entered the classrooms on Tuesday, however they were not happy and this unhappiness is being shared with the students. I am being told by Shaler Area students that the teachers are “not paid enough”; they “will not be here next year because they cannot afford it”. There was also a blog posted on this site by a Shaler Area teacher at 1:32 PM on November 27th. The teachers are distracted and need to stay focused on educating our students and let their union negotiators do what they were chosen to do.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree with you more. I too have students in the district: one at the high school and one at the middle school level.

I've asked my children several times if their teachers mentioned anything about the strike. Both responded no.

Besides, the Post Gazette said the teachers were WILLING to pay some health care. They didn't expect to have it free.

I'm proud of my tax dollars and the Shaler education.

Shaler Area Parent said...

The teachers have discussed this with the students at the high school, intermediate and elementary levels. The entire rank and file have worn SAEA t-shirts to show a support of solidarity on numerous occasions. One group in particular were wearing buttons displaying to the students how they voted. I also mentioned in my previous post the teacher who was spending time Tuesday afternoon posting a very lengthy blog on this site, I believe this was a teacher at the middle school. It is in the classrooms it may not be in your childrens classrooms but it is in the classrooms.

Until the proposal is made public we will not know how much the teachers were willing to pay. According to the Post-Gazette “the proposed payments were too high” since we do not know what the proposed payments were I cannot comment on whether they were too high.

Paul said...

"P.S. I think you may be misinformed on the number of days that kids in Japan and Germany go to school."

You're correct about the number of "days" but in dealing with union propagandists the devil is always in the details. A school "day" in most European nations begins at nine in the morning and kids are home by noon to stay. They typically don't have the extended summer break our kids do but usually have more smaller ones spread through out the day.

Teachers unions have been misrepresenting the difference in the definitions of a school day when comparing systems in an effort to get kids into school more "days" in order to justify even higher salaries, when the reality is that the kids in the systems that our out performing our spend more "days" in class but far fewer total hours in a year than our kids do.

Shaler Area Parent said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.