Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't hate teachers for fighting for what all Americans want

That's the message in a guest opinion appearing in today's Courier Times. Here are some excerpts the letter submitted by Athena Graeber . . .

As a parent of three children and a taxpayer in the Neshaminy School District, I have been pondering the events unfolding in our school district. First and foremost, I want to say that I support the teachers in my district. I believe that they embody the American spirit and passion for fighting for what they believe in. They work hard every day to improve the lives of the students in our district. I look to them as role models for what the rest of our country should be doing.

What is that you ask? It is standing up for themselves and what they believe in no matter what the cost. Against those who cry out publicly against them. Ranting and raving about taxes and the costs of health care and other things that are troubling their lives. Our taxes pay for many things, not just teachers' salaries, yet no one is questioning the trash collector?

Many parents and students are up in arms over the extras that teachers are not providing at the moment, e.g. reference letters, websites, bulletin boards, etc. Even though I am not in favor of these tactics, I am intelligent enough to realize that the Neshaminy teachers are not out to hurt our children, but that they are making a simple point.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for oneself and fighting for what is right, fair, and just. I believe that is a trait that we call character. Let's support our teachers and help them get a contract.

You can read all of Ms. Graeber's letter by clicking here.

Also in today's Courier Times is an article which questions what impact, if any, the recent contract settlement in North Penn will have on the Neshaminy and Pennsbury negotiations. The article quotes Ritchie Webb as saying, "North Penn's ability to support increased salary and/or benefits may be different than here at Neshaminy . . . However, one thing we do have in common [is] communities are coming to the realization that there may not be a win-win solution available for public education. Either you restructure your labor costs, or cut education programs. We value all our employees, but ultimately we must insist on cost reductions in order to preserve our educational programs."

To that, NFT President Louise Boyd responded, "We've worked for decades to improve our earning potential and work conditions and we don't believe it's fair to arbitrarily strip away at our livelihood because of (school boards') failures to manage their budgets . . . Despite not having a contract for more than 702 days at Neshaminy, we continue to provide our students with the best education available. But like our fellow teachers in North Penn, we have our limits. We won't be abused."

And a little reminder to all readers about the rules of the road on this blog . . . When commenting, please keep it civil. Tensions are running high, and it's more important than ever we maintain some diplomacy. Being passionate in your comments is one thing, being insulting is another. Try to focus on the issues rather than the individuals. As always, I'll try to let your comments fly without editing them, but please monitor yourself so I don't have to.



Levittowner said...

I have come to the conclusion that teachers just don't get it and that teacher's guest opinion seals my opinion; you really can't even be angry with them as they are like naive babies. The board just needs to keep their stand-keep the public educated and informed and take the high road.
And Boyd with her "we won't be abused". The NFT is looking more ridiculous every day. Seriously, I don't even feel the need to debate on the issues anymore..they are so out of touch with the situation and Boyd isn't even making sense's like she's in an alternate universe and the teachers have joined her there.


Re: Ms. Graeber's letter
on teachers "fighting for what is right, fair and just"

Free health insurance is not right, fair and just here in the USA. If our tax dollars are paying 100% of other public workers health insurance we need to change that also. Teachers are in question now because they are negotiating a new contract. All this negativity against teachers could have been avoided if they showed willingness to contribute to healthcare. Taking a stance of 0% contribution will not gain support or praise. I'm sure if there was a blog for trash collectors or any public workers you would get the same response.

RE: Ms. Boyd's comments

"we don't believe it's fair to arbitrarily strip away at our livelihood because of (school boards') failures to manage their budgets"

If the new contract does not require healthcare contributions this would show a huge failure to manage the budget. I do not know enough to commnent on any other possible budget mismanagment but I believe 0% healthcare contributions should have been eliminated a long time ago.

Neshaminy Mom said...

Neshaminy Mom.....Re: Ms. Graeber's letter...Why not be just as proud that the board is standing up for what they believe in? The fact that they're not backing down shows the same tenacity that you, Ms. Graeber, are patting the teachers on the back for. Doesn't the board also embody the American spirit and passion for fighting for what they believe in? Ms. Graeber states that the teachers work hard every day to improve the lives of the students....well, the board works hard every day to improve the lives of the taxpayers in this school district.....but there is one little difference, the board doesn't get paid to do it, but the teachers do! Sorry, Ms. Graeber, I don't support the teachers, and I have 4 kids in this district, and can barely afford to pay for their healthcare, so, I surely am not willing to pay for someone elses. Enough is enough!

NicAndy said...

If you read the article, the guest OPINION is from a Neshaminy Taxpayer, not a NFT member. I believe she said she works in Philadelphia. I am just concerned that people are making blanket conclusions about our teachers based on people's OPINIONS, not facts.

In regards to the 100% healthcare coverage that the public believes the taxpayers are demanding, I am sorry, but I don't buy it. I submitted a similar post earlier, but it was not printed, so I am curious to see if this gets posted.

I find it very hard to believe that the NFT is expecting NOT to contribute to their healthcare. I base this opinion on several reasons, but primarily based on a conversation that I overheard at the last board meeting between several NFT members. In addition, I have been able to engage in some confidential conversations with a few NFT members, who have insisted that they have never stated that they were not willing to pay some of the healthcare costs. I have never once heard or read the Union leaders publicly state that they refuse to pay towards healthcare. Why else would they "allow" their members to suffer the public scorn and contempt that they have experienced in recent months if there are not other issues that they may find of higher value?

C said...

William with all the focus on the teachers now has anyone noticed that NESPA is showing signs of life now that custodial ,grounds and food services are off the outsourcing hook how can you save the taxpayers the 30 million you promised to save in 5 years by not outsourcing all.The board has lost control of the District, loyalty is a thing of the past at Neshaminy this board has made it out to be all about control not money.Administration is scrambling to save their own jobs because they know without district employees they don't have jobs either thus the sudden push not to outsource all. Wasteful spending, poor mangement, lack of accountablity and false promises are the root of the District's problem not the labor unions.

Kirstin said...

I graduated from NHS four years ago and I'm completely blown away by the news on this blog. I've heard plenty of teachers union horror stories in the news, but I'm disheartened to find out that it's happening at my own school. I can't imagine all of my former teachers, the ones who wrote me awesome recommendations that got me into a top tier university, the ones who hugged me and congratulated me at prom and graduation, the ones who put in so much extra time and effort so my friends and I could participate in extra-curricular activities, would be okay with such petty union rules like "don't volunteer for anything."

What happened to my school? My little brother still goes to NHS and I'm definitely crushed that he has to go through this and he won't get the same experience as I did.

William O'Connor said...

NicAndy - To this point, employee contributions towards health benefits has not been on the table. A few weeks ago during a public meeting I specifically asked Ms. Boyd to confirm that benefits was on the table, and she completely dodged the question. To this date, the NFT has not countered with an offer that includes employee contributions. If I'm lying, then let someone from the NFT leadership come on here and say so.

C - no decisions have been made about outsourcing, so the premise of your question is incorrect.

NicAndy said...

Mr. O'Connor, please believe me when I say that I was not insinuating that you were lying by any means. I am sorry if my comment was taken that way. I am thankful that you take the time to answer questions that we, the parents and taxpayers pose.

At the same time, I am really concerned that the Board's attempt at transparency may have backfired. Because of all of the disparaging remarks that have been freely tossed around (from all sides), I fear that the reputations our once fine community and schools have been irrevocably damaged by politics and grandstanding. I am afraid that it is going to be difficult to attract fine, upstanding families to our community as a result of the constant negative media attention and public bickering between parties.

acs said...

Nic, I would not lose sleep over it since people are not coming to NSD now due to as high or higher taxes than CR and CB. The difference is CR and CB are top rated programs. If you want to blame someone blame the people in the Blue NFT Union shirts that have been compensated escessively for years and still produce mediocre student outcomes. Our reputation has been hurt by their union antics and real lack of reulsts. See the article William just publish on blog.