Friday, April 23, 2010

Courier to NFT: Thumbs down

The following editorial courtesy of the Bucks County Courier Times:

To union teachers at Maple Point Middle School in the Neshaminy School District for sending a message to the school board by once a week standing at the front entrance of the school where special education students are dropped off by mini-buses and vans.

Educators are the first to say that special education students, not to mention all students, do best when they are able to maintain a regular routine. How does arriving to a throng of adults standing around in front of their school in the morning affect the rest of their day?

How much thought have union members given to the impact they are having on students when they engage in this weekly moment of solidarity? How are the union members' actions in the best interest of the children?
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39 comments:

Levittowner said...

The more they "show their solidarity" in front of our schools (and of course children see them..alot of children arrive early..especially the safeties, those in before school activities ect)the harder it gets to separate the teacher from the union. In my opinion that is not a good thing.

Pianomom said...

Amen Levittowner! The teachers are going to lose much more than just their expensive benefits if they keep this up. Heaven help them if they work to contract or vote to strike. My respect for them dwindles every day.

Susan said...

It baffles me how well-educated people think these are effective tactics in the present fiscal climate. As a student during the 1980 strike, I can affirm Pianomom's dwindling respect. Please correct me if I am wrong: if the teacher's were to strike, doesn't that negate terms in the existing contract? What I mean for example is, don't they lose benefits if they strike? Perhaps that is why they have yet to go that route. As I said, please correct me if I'm wrong.

acs said...

It is hard to believe the teachers can get even lower in terms of public support but it sounds like there might be many that were still giving the benefit of the doubt to them that are now jumping ship. You need to remember that union leaders are taught to completely ignore your feelings and taxpayers. This is only about greed and has always been the case. The is bus as usual for unions.I wonder when the majority will start to realize this in this district. Again as soon as teh SS are outsourced the NFT will expect their demands to be met with the savings.

KClarinet said...

If they strike (as teachers are doing in North Penn), they are limited in how long they can stay out - basically they can't stay out beyond the number of days that can be made up in order to reach 180 days of instruction by the end of June. The "status quo" (existing contract) remains in force. Once the limit on available make-up days is reached, the teachers have to come back to work whether or not any settlement has been reached. So a strike which is unlikely to lead to a negotiated settlement, especially in an impasse like ours in Neshaminy, is probably not going to gain anything for the union. A strike's value as leverage to force a school board to do anything is basically nil. The loss it risks isn't contractual, but further alienation of the public - especially working parents with children who need alternative day-care if schools are closed and families whose vacation plans in late June (after the originally scheduled end of school) are jeopardized.

acs said...

My understanding is all Healthcare coverage can be terminated immediately in a strike. Any truth william?

abc123 said...

When doesn't the Courier take a swing at the teachers? In North Penn the board rejected an arbitrator's findings so the teachers felt they had no choice but to strike. Of course the Courier says teachers were wrong but says nothing about the board. For negotiations to be successful, both sides have to be willing to meet in the middle. But even if teachers do agree to concessions the public will still damn them and demand they be fired. So exactly what good does it do them to negotiate? Maybe if the board showed a little good faith they would find the teachers willing to do the same.

William O'Connor said...

ACS, my understanding is that it would be at the Board's discretion to suspend health care coverage in the event of a strike.

ABC123, the idea of meeting in the middle is not true. If that were the case, everyone would go into negotiations with an extreme offer so that the middle ground would appear to be reasonable. We took a different approach - we analyzed what we could afford and applied that to what we believed was a fair offer. It is true that the NFT is being asked to make significant concessions, but they are ones that should have been made years ago. If we negotiate to an unaffordable "middle" then we are condemming our students to program cuts. And that's the bottom line.

st319 said...

ACS...the savings from outsourcing the support staff cannot be used towards negotiating with the NFT. It has been stated many time on this blog. Please make a note.

Erik said...

Last year when they picketed back to school night the board said it was illegal for them to be on school grounds but they did nothing about it when teachers marched onto our property. Will the board let them walk all over us again next year at bts night? I say slap the cuffs on them and haul them all off to jail.

acs said...

ST, it is always lost in the sauce after the budget is complete. Do you really believe the NFT believes that there will be no savings in budget after we outsource? Of course there will because we will not have a deficit for next 3 years more than likely

KClarinet said...

Not certain about ACS's question about suspending health care during a strike, but I believe the Pennsbury board tried to do that a few years ago when their teachers went out for a couple of weeks and either the NLRB or a court said they couldn't. But my memory about it may be foggy.

st319 said...

ACS...what you don't seem to realize, is that any savings from outsourcing will be used towards this year's 7 million plus budget deficit. There will be nothing that can be, as you put it, "lost in the sauce." Expenses will continue to rise each year. So any continued savings from outsoursing, will most likely be used to meet future years budgets.

Peter said...

You know, Levittowner said my thoughts exactly in a better way than I have. The more we see these stupid protests, the more it is harder to not make it personal. Interestingly, I had a conversation recently about this blog and the person said, you know what I really didn't like, and mentioned the silent strike or whatever it was at BTS night last Fall. Funny, 6 months later that still ticked this person off! Teachers, hope you are reading your press. Bill, THANKS for all the info!

Gabriel said...

I Couldn't have said it better myself Peter. I'm one of those people who admire teachers so much yet I feel betrayed by their actions when they picket school night or have solidarity marches. I can't imagine how the community will react if they strike or work to their contract. They can say what they want about the board but they best not take it out on the kids.

acs said...

Sorry, you people who still put teacher on a moral pedastal don't get it. The individual teachers make up the union that wants to continue to pick the taxpayers pocket for extraordinary pay and benfits. To believe this you have to live in the same fantasy teachers do. Keep getting sucked in and you will keep paying more for inferior results as we do in NSD.

march said...

It is sad how quickly everyone jumps on the bandwagon to trash teachers, but not one person responded to your posting of Chris' BCCT letter to the editor showing how teachers' go above and beyond for the students.

Gabriel said...

I don't understand why you think we have to bash teachers in order to take a stand ACS. I know I haven't been around this blog in a while but thought I made it pretty clear I sided with the board. I still admire teachers (for what they do in the classroom), and overall I am pleased with the education in Neshaminy. That doesn't change my opinion that they have to start kicking in for benefits while giving up things like the retirement perk.
Don't you think it's possible that we can stand firmly behind the board while still respecting the education profession?

acs said...

We have been over this ground many times on this blog but for the sake of the new I will say it again. Whenever someone speaks rationally about what is happening like so many of us do including the newspaper, the defend the teachers crowd calls it bashing. The protect the teachers is one of the reasons why we have had 50 years of public school student performance degradation and escalating salaries and benefits such that now the taxpayer profession has exceed compensation by far in the private sector. Keep calling bashing and we will never get anywhere in resolving the legal robbery teacher unions are permitted to do to taxpayers.
The individual teacher is fine. You need to stop separating that from the union they are one in the same whether you or the teachers like it.

Gabriel said...

I don't understand ACS why you even reacted to my original comment. I said that I admired teachers but felt betrayed by their actions. Then you jump in with a statement saying that I don't get it. I do get it, ACS. I admire what teachers do as teachers but disagree with their contract demands. How can you say I don't get it?
I get the feeling that if I said teachers stink and they are greedy, you would tell me that I did get it. Is there no room in your opinion to allow for people who admire teachers but disagree with their demands?

Give it up said...

Not one comment about the nice letter to the editor by any of your readers - this blog does not represent Neshaminy - it represents a group of people who have nothing better to do than bash teachers. That is why the same people comment every time (Levittowner, Acs, Kclarinet, etc.)

acs said...

Peace Gab.

William O'Connor said...

Give it up: While it is true that this blog has some regular posters, you are making a mistake by assuming it is not an accurate cross section of Neshaminy residents. It is also ironic that you make your statement about chronic teacher bashing when one of the people you listed, KClarinet, has demonstrated much support for our teachers. Even more, I know the person who is Levittowner and can tell you they are someone who appreciates teachers but in recent months has started to sour on them because of things like the solidarity march and picketing BTS night.

I honestly believe most people on this blog do appreciate/admire teachers but they have become frustrated with what they feel are unrealistic expectations regarding the collective bargaining agreement that the NFT is demanding.

Now if it's really teacher bashing you want to see, I can point you in the direction of some other blogs.

William O'Connor said...

And by the way, I agree with you it's disappointing that nobody commented favorably on the Above and Beyond post.

Gabriel said...

Ok ACS, are we good now, bro?

acs said...

BFFs Gaby!

Levittowner said...

Perhaps there hasn't been much comment on the nice letter to the editor because the teachers/union is starting to become one in the minds of the parents.

I, for one, hold out hope that the teachers read this blog and realize there are real consequences in public perception when they band together and present the "face" they are presenting.

It is getting extremely hard to single out individuals for their sacrifice and attention to our kids when they seem to be gathering "arms" against the very community they serve.

Newbie said...

When I got up enough courage I talked to several of my child's teachers about paying for benefits and every one of them said they were prepared to do it. They thought 10-12%, the board's original offer, was fine. I asked them how is it that the union leader said paying for benefits was not on the table and none of them could give me a real answer. It appears to me there is a disconnect between the staff and the union but I don't know why the teachers don't say something about it.

csld said...

Newbie this is not surprising that this is the case with the teachers because this is the same thing that happened to the support staff and look where we are now wondering when the end is coming.

acs said...

Newbie and Levitt, Great points. Please try to bridge the gap and accept as hard as it may be that teachers and the union are ONE in the same. When you accept this it is quite liberating believe me. Stop giving individual teachers the benefit of the doubt....they are the greed the union shows.
Now that you accepted this here is a little factoid from the rules agreed to by the school board in the CBA that William knows so well. The board can only negotiate with the NFT. NO ONE ELSE. So no matter the feelings of an socially conscious individual teacher what the union says is WHAT THEY ALL THINK AND BELIEVE. Whether you accept this or not. Louise speaks fro all 700 of them and if they REALLY didn't like it she would get thrown out. I hear they are reelecting her...Tells you something. The teachers could care less about the community. Period.

MAT said...

Re: Above and Beyond, I would have left a comment but it wouldn't have been favorable.

While I'm not sure how it worked at Hoover, but our PTO paid for and was asked by the principal to provide the daily snacks and gum. Did the teachers at Hoover actually provide the snacks??

As far as being excited about the testing, what child wouldn't when they are being bribed with snacks, gum and no homework for two weeks while testing???

MAT said...

If the teachers re-elect Louise that would speak volumes as to what they WANT.

I've always thought if they truley were not in agreement with what is happening, they need to speak up.

We'll see.

Jose said...

we all know there are extras teachers bring to the classes. i don't think they should be declared saints for doing this but let's not find fault in everything they do either. i hope teachers read this and see that there are parents who do appreciate them but at the same time are losing respect for them because of their contract demands. there is only one way i see talks resuming and that is if the teachers union president is willing to put benefits up for discussion. and there is only one way i see that happening and that is if the majority of teachers tell her that is what needs to happen.

Face said...

I don't believe for one second that the NFT isn't willing to negotiate on benefits. I think what some of you are hearing from your kids' teachers is correct. I guess what disturbs me is that it has been allowed, on this blog and on the board's website, to become a matter of fact that the NFT has an immovable position on benefits. I searched for a good bit of time (more than I'd like to admit) and can't find the union president quoted ANYWHERE on this. KClarinet has brought this up on numerous occasions and no one wants to question it. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this. Instead it remains at the top of the list of public grievances with the blue shirts and the buttons and the "marches." This is precisely why negotiations are not done in public. None of us has all of the information. I have a great deal of respect for the majority of these teachers and I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt until the last possible minute. At the end of the day they are performing every task (and more) that has been asked of them. If anyone has concrete examples of teachers shirking their duty then call them out! That is an ACTUAL outrage.

William I submit to you, with all due respect to you and your work here on our school board, that it is nothing short of a disgrace for the board's OFFICIAL website to quote the NFT on benefits and not know who said it! You admitted in a blog entry last November that you heard it from someone on the negotiating team. Well, excuse me, but I don't trust those people. I trust you. Honestly, if you heard it, I would take it as biblical.

And again, for the sake of balance, I do NOT share in ACS' disdain and disgust for our teachers. As I have previously pointed out, ACS dominates conversation here with non-stop union-busting rhetoric and would go nuclear on Neshaminy School District if it meant a zero tax increase. Not me. I don't live in a 55+ community. I am raising a family here for a reason. Let the teachers get up early and re-enact Civil War battles on the front lawn for all it matters. I still have hope that this thing will get done and hopefully soon because it doesn't serve anyone for it to go on much longer. Sorry William, but it's back in the saddle again for you. Who was that? Gene Autry?

Thank you and keep up the good work.

acs said...

FACE, Again William decides the blog entries and dialog so that should tell you something. I think my views reflect a significant majority of the community by the way.
William keep up the good work on this blog and standing up to the Unions since the are the cause of our deficit, the need to outsource services and all education cuts. I support your work here and on the board. Keep up the good fight.

William O'Connor said...

Face,

I can only verify what has been told to the Board by our own negotiating committee – The NFT has not made any offers to contribute towards their monthly health care premiums. Regardless of what the NFT President may have said or not said, it doesn’t change the reality that they have yet to make any concessions in this regard. If someone from the NFT negotiating team wants to present factual evidence to the contrary (meaning that they have offered to contribute towards their monthly premiums), I will be happy to publish their comments on this blog.

While I agree with your comment about private negotiations, I must also emphatically state that I believe the negotiation process itself must be transparent. The public is paying for whatever agreements we make with our employees and therefore they have a right to know what issues are on the table. The last time a Neshaminy Board held negotiations without transparency, we were saddled with the most expensive contract in our history and the public had absolutely no say in the matter. That was a huge mistake that must never be allowed to occur again.

Let’s spend a moment on something you and I agree on – I do think teachers, in general, are awesome professionals. I’d like to think that my favorable view of the vocation has influenced my children; one child is a teacher, a second used to work with underprivileged children, and a third has future aspirations of becoming a teacher. Of course my children would not have chosen that path if it weren’t for those very special educators who inspired them. So it is safe to say that both you and I, and probably most in our community, respect teaching as a profession.

Having said all this, I want to end my comment with a reminder of why this Board is taking such a firm stand. Whether we are in good economic times or bad, we must be sure to provide our children with a solid education while working within the framework of a sustainable economic model. To do that, we must drastically restructure our labor agreements or the alternative will be to cut programs. I did not join this Board to cut programs, so to me the path is very clear.

acs said...

William Ironically you and I agree and therefore Face as well. I think though we should all stipulate teachers are good people and professionals, that has never been in question even for me. However, as much respect I or you have for the professionals, in this case the stance these professionals have decided to take is completely self serving and yes greedy. Also ironically they want you and Face and the rest of us to respect them but their actions have insulted the community for 2 years. Their continued insistence on free healthcare and no other concessions will now for sure cause a major disruption as the support staff lose jobs and take pay cuts when outsourced; and ultimately the board at some point will need to cut our kids educational quality.
Teachers are great people and important to the community. They have invited the criticism and attacks on them i.e. the bashing, with uncaring behavior unbecoming of decent citizens of the community and yes the professionals they want to be known as. The unions brought workers so far, now they overreach at the severe expense of the other good people-the people of our community that struggle to pay for the great professional teachers with hard earned money that they also have to pay for their own retirement and helathcare costs with. It will be hard to put this horse back in the barn.

Pianomom said...

I will continue to respect teachers in the classroom until a program is cut, or they vote for a strike, or work to contract. Once they do something that directly or indirectly hurts our children then all respect will be gone.

example for my kids said...

Well said Pianomom and I agree wholeheartedly. As one whose been actively involved in my kids' schools for many, many years, I've witnessed countless of dedicated teachers and staff go over and above board for kids. I hold them all in high regard and I have a tremendous amount of respect for these individuals. I have, and will continue to dedicate and volunteer my time to foster that type of environment for our kids. But once programs are cut, a strike happens or teachers work to the contract, all things that "directly or indirectly hurt our children", as you say, then all bets are off and my respect will dwindle. I hope and pray a voice of reason and compromise prevails before we head down a path that will take years to recover from.

And this is not coming from a chronic blogger, it's coming from someone who's lucky enough to actively be involved in the lives of kids and who's proud enough of Neshaminy and all that it offers the future of our community.