Wednesday, June 2, 2010

They came, they spoke, they left

What were they thinking? I don't even have the words to adequately describe the situation. Maybe this used to be a dependable third-down-and-long strategy in the old NFT Playbook, but it's time to put this one back on the shelf, never to be used again. And sticking with the football metaphors, it was another example of bad play calling that has plagued the NFT.

I am, of course, referring to last night's walk-out by the NFT rank and file after their leaders addressed the Board and audience. Perhaps the event was best summarized by the Courier's Rachel Canelli in her article where she says "They came. They spoke. They left." That pretty much says it all as far as I'm concerned, but there were many angry parents last night who used other words to describe it. They yelled at the departing teachers during their mass exodus, questioning why they weren't willing to listen to the parents. I heard one person exclaim that the teachers already turned their backs on the students and now they were turning their backs on the parents.

At the end of the meeting, with only parents and a few teachers straggling in the back to observe the aftermath, my fellow board member Kim Koutsouradis apologized to the audience by saying they deserved more respect from the teachers. He was right, they did. We all did.

I know that tensions are high, and that our teachers are feeling a great deal of pressure because of this contract impasse, but it's pressure they've brought upon themselves. This isn't just the Board who is frustrated with the situation. It's parents, and students, and tax payers, and even members of NESPA. When it comes to this contract dispute, the teachers' support base is virtually nonexistent. But they knew that coming into the meeting, and still they chose to walk out on the very people who pay their salary. A very odd decision, especially in light of a newly scheduled meeting with the Board's Negotiation Team later this week. Yes, very odd.

I don't know what to expect on Thursday, but I will be anxiously awaiting word from our Negotiation Team. There is one thing I do know, even if the NFT doesn't. Paying for benefits is on the table. If that wasn't made clear by the Board in the past, it was made loud and clear by those parents and tax payers in attendance at last night's meeting. The Board heard you.

What I don't know is if the NFT heard you. They had already left the meeting.

(Below is a Fox 29's report on last night, accompanied by a great picture [right] taken by Courier Times photographer Steve Gengler that captures some of the tension from the meeting)



28 comments:

acs said...

Thank you William. Well said and we continue to appreciate your leadership in this situation. I always look for the cooler heads in a crisis at work and life. You are a great example to the community of a leader who is calm and collected in a very tense situation. Last night ended any fantasy some may have had about the "well meaning teachers".They are completely part of Ms. Boyds union Thug mentality. They were not all there last night so I hope we see some teacher break ranks with this radical destrctive union bully Boyd.

jls08 said...

When will last night's meeting be on the Neshaminy channel? I was not able to attend last night and the 6:00 pm broadcast tonight was still the 5/19 meeting.

Steve said...

Are you saying that the "make your comment then walk out the door" approach to debate isn't how we want our kids to learn how to deal with conflict and adversity?

Still not getting it said...

William,

I see you learned a great deal - keep pouring gasoline on the fire. Why don't you just encourage negotiation and stop looking for ways to make things worse. When acs agrees with you - you know that you are on the wrong side of this whole fiasco.

momof4 said...

My high schooler hit the nail on the head when he said, hey mom, what do you think would have happened to me if I was suppose to listen to speakers and got up and left after I listened to just the ones I wanted to. I bet the teacher would be shocked and embarrassed and wouldn't have tolerated it. Great Example of what not to teach our children.

Kelli said...

I keep thinking I'll wake up from this dream...but it keeps getting worse. I consider myself a reasonable, rational and moral person. I cannot for the life of me understand for one second what is going on in the minds of the NFT and its leaders. Do they not know that it's 2010 and EVERYONE contributes to health care? Don't they realize they're lucky to have a job, let alone one in a wonderful school district with good kids and supportive parents? Can they not see the path they are choosing to walk is one of utter defeat with maximum casualties?

A friend of mine's husband is a teacher in a neighboring district. When they went on strike two years ago she said it was like he and his colleagues had been brainwashed.

So far that's the only logical explanation I can come up with.

MAT said...

Can someone please explain to me what the VP of the teachers union was saying at the board meeting. It sounded like she was saying benefits are not as costly as the board would lead us to believe. I've gotten the feeling that they are making it like the school board is not telling the public the whole truth about the benefits. And if I'm correct, what exactly do they think the board is keeping to themselves?

Realistically speaking said...

Steve Keeley needs to re-check his facts on teachers salaries:

http://www.neshaminytaxpayers.com/Certified_Staff.pdf

I understand that we are not able to replace the teachers for economic reasons-which is something we need to work on having repealed. But here's the bottom line:
Guaranteed business failure = costs continue to rise while revenue continues to fall.
Guaranteed school system failure = costs continue to rise while test scores and rankings continue to fall.
People will leave the area with increased tax rates, and NSD will loose it's desirability if we continue to decline, which has been happening for the past 2 years.

http://projects.mcall.com/PSSA-results/district/122097502/NESHAMINY%20SD/

Not only is there no accountability, but they want a raise! Why should they get a raise? Answer the question Ms. Boyd. In the business world they would be told it's time to work to SAVE your job. Take the offer off the table. They didn't like it anyway! Start on a new page. Significant pay cuts with significant incentives. Example: 50% pay cut with 10% incentive increases when they achieve a desired goal allowing them to go above and beyond their current rate-only if they are willing to perform. In the business world this is linked to productivity. In the education world this would be linked to test results and status among peer groups. NSD is ranked #44 in the state, CR is #15, yet our salaries are #2. Bring the work level up to the pay grade-link it!

This has become so emotional, you're dealing with our kids and our pocket books-nothing gets more emotional! We need to step back and look at the statistics, they are not emotional, they are factual. You can't pay what you don't have. The taxpayers who pay their salaries are in many cases out of work themselves, paying their own healthcare (I do!) and can not afford another tax increase-What don't you get? It's nice to want, but at somepoint they must face the reality that there is just no money in the budget for salary increases, let alone complete healthcare coverage.

Here's another thought: What happens if Obamacare goes through and this "Rolls Royce" plan is deemed a "Cadillac" plan? Who pays the penalties on that??? The taxpayers! Where will this money come from?

JS said...

Watch the Fox 29 clip and notice Louise Boyd commit the ultimate Freudian slip.

"We continue to need to work hard at the no-gotiations table". That's about right, isn't it?

acs said...

Real, You are right on. Keeley is wrong and the board needs to correct Fox. With earnings, retirement benefits and free top line PC15 healthcare NSD teachers ane by far the highest compensated teachers in Bucks and likely PA

Str8 Shutr said...

For any of you who are fantasizing of a settlement tonight it's time for a reality check. If you think the nft will concede to paying even a single percent to healthcare, you need to get real. The nft dynamic duo of Boyd and Schimdt laid the ground work with their little story about doing the hard work. Translation ..... do everything possible to avoid paying for benefits.
When the board members hear confirmation that the nft isn't willing to discuss paying for benefits, they should abruptly get up and leave the meeting tonight, just like the teachers did to us on Tuesday.

JS said...

I again would like to ask how a specific "Work-to-contract" order by the NFT with specific orders to not do anything out of the standard day is not a violation of the CBA.

Go to http://www.neshaminytaxpayers.com/Certified_Contract.pdf

The section 10-41 TEACHER RESPONSIBILITY

"The Federation should encourage all staff members to provide service beyond the regular school day to participate in programs designed to improve teaching skills, as well as help and counsel children."

Note the word "encourage". When they are actually "discouraging" their members, they are in violation of the CBA. Mr. O and the rest of the board. Call them on it. They legally can't give their members orders to not offer extra help.

KIDSFIRST said...

Education is about the children! Cutting programs will put our kids at a disadvantage. Cutting benefits and salary expenses will not take away from the kids. I have kids at Pearl S. Buck Elementary and Maple Point Middle Schools. They are very good schools because of the teachers and parental involvement. Improvement is needed at the high school! I am really taken back by the teachers' behavior because they teach in a good district and there is a lot of parental involvement/PTO support, esp. at the elementary school. There was no reason to drag this on for two years, get the students all worked up and give Neshaminy bad press. The poor personal choices made by the NFT union leader has not helped the situation at all. Unwillingness to talk about contributing to health care from the beginning was not a wise choice. Walking out at the meeting did not show good character. The parents and taxpayers are really upset about all of this. We all hope for a positive outcome at the talks tonight but I have to say I am not very optimistic at this point.

silentmajority19053 said...

William, you and the board have lost all claim to the high road. As childish as it was for the NFT to walk out after Louise spoke, the Board’s behavior was no nobler. We have a Board that sits and smiles and nods as speakers openly call Neshaminy teachers disgusting, lazy and greedy. Then when a speaker describes teachers as hard working, the President stops the meeting to dispute her, after stating in no uncertain terms the Board would not respond to speaker comments.

This rank hypocrisy and partisan sniping on BOTH sides is depressing. I was starting to have faith the Board would leave the amateurish political posturing to the NFT and work to end this, it is obvious I was wrong. Every ounce of energy you and the Board continue to expend pointing out the union childishness over and over and over only proves the NSD School Board and the NFT leadership were cut from the same cloth.

She started it . . . . . .no he started it . . . . . .no she started it . . . . .no he started it . . . . .ugh!!!!

MAT said...

I would hate for them to walk out for any reason other than the meeting is over or the other side left. Is benefits always the first thing discussed? Why not work out everything else and that be last? It's obviously the biggest obstical.

i've never taken part of any negotiation other than buying a house. How do these things work. Is it he's our offer what's yours, or do you start talking it out?

acs said...

William, The public is behind this board 100%. You heard it the other night from every speaker. Focus on the job at hand to control out of control union labor cost destroying NSD and DO NOT CUT education programs to solve the problem decrease the last offer to the NFT and do what PBSD just did freeze salary and go to 25% HC contribution. The 9 of you need to stand firm and Tuesday should have made that perfectly clear.

MAT said...

Silent....I have to disageee. I didn't hear anyone say anything other than we can not afford to pay for benefits.

Mr. Webb said at the beginnng of public comment, to state your name, occupation and where you live, like he always does. Mrs. Kirsh, decided to withhold her occupation. If she had been upfront and proud to be a teacher, she wouldn't have gotten such a response. Mr. Webb was simply letting everyone know what she left out!!!

NicAndy said...

I was at the Board meeting on Tuesday, and was appalled at the hypocrisy that permeated the walls of that auditorium. As a parent and taxpayer who has a great deal of respect for many of the members of our Board, I was completely embarrased at the way that the Board members allowed Mrs. Kirsh to be treated by that mob. I wish they could have implemented the Bullying policy or the recently signed Gang Policy on Tuesday. Mr. Webb said that the Board would not be commenting or responding to public comments, but then he threw Mrs. Kirsh to the wolves. She is a taxpayer and a parent and is entitled to have her say....even if it in contrast to the redshirts' groupthink.

I was also disgusted by the behavior of that redshirt lady who claims to want a peaceful resolution to the contracts, while at the same time she was grabbing the mic and shoving Mrs. Kirsh out of the way. I understand that Mrs. Kirsh had her turn at the mic, and it was the other woman's turn, but I also don't blame Mrs. Kirsh for feeling the need to defend her right to free speech after the way she was booed, heckled, and bullied by fellow parents and taxpayers.

Finally, I cannot believe that Mr. Morris chided the NFT for leaving early, when he, himself. arrived more than 1/2 hour LATE to arguably the most important Board meeting of his tenure to date.

On a side note, I overheard a group of NFT members standing outside discussing how they cannot believe that the public would honestly believe that the NFT is not willing to pay into their healthcare. When I questioned them about what I overheard, they politely said that they could not discuss anything with me, but did say that their stance is not at all what has been painted by "others".

I just wish that they would give some information about where they stand, so I could make a fully informed and OBJECTIVE opinion.

KClarinet said...

NicAndy wrote:
"I just wish that they would give some information about where they stand, so I could make a fully informed and OBJECTIVE opinion."

AMEN to that!

acs said...

I am sorry what do you think the mystery is here with where the NFT stands. We know exactly afer 2 years where they stand. What do not understand about it?

acs said...

NicAndy, The "others" you talk about are William and the Board and some that are in the know. The NFT will not make it public so the have cover when they finally are forced to concede which is likely. With their demands it is not politically sound to realease it since it is a complete no win for them. Public Opinion is now and always goes against greed driven unions like this. Boyd may have some big problems but she ain't stupid by any means. The unions know this game far better than amateur school boards(not you William:0)). They have a proven playbook in PA and for the most part have never lost. Look at North Penn. Taxpayers lost big there and Chuck Sweet was their Board attorney as he is ours so hopefully he does better work for us.

KClarinet said...

Those of us who lack clairvoyance and don't read minds only have Louise Boyd's regular "No Comment" and occasional responses that Mr. Webb's description of the NFT's position is inaccurate.

Realistically speaking said...

@Kelli, they are keeping them in a bubble as much as they can. The union didn't want the teachers to hear what the public had to say, that's why they had them all leave.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment from Chaz has been edited for content.
The contract expired 2 years ago. There has not been any legal bind between the district and the teachers' union. The teachers have been working for 2 years on a month-to-month basis and 'at will' of their employer. All teachers are, in fact, "Free Agents." The district must seize this opportunity to FIRE ALL TEACHERS and REHIRE prior to next school year those who have shown a sincere interest in our children, under strict District employment guidelines, without union(s). The district knows who the troublemaking militants and worthless deadwood are to exclude them from the rehiring process. NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO CLEAN OUR NESHAMINY SCHOOL HOUSE.

acs said...

Real, You are exactly right. Union leaders need to keep morale up in their failed and flawed cause and do not want rank and file to hear a mass verbal assault.
KC it is quite clear what the NFT counter proposal was I do not understand why you keep insisting it is a mystery.

KClarinet said...

ACS,

Because it came from the Board president. Louise Boyd, whether or not any of us likes the tactic, makes a point of saying nothing when asked except that the Board's version of the NFT position is inaccurate. We go 'round and 'round on this. You alternately insist you have have (unnamed) sources or refer to your years of experience in labor negotiations.

All I think I know is that 15-16-17% is unacceptably high to NFT's negotiators, which doesn't at all translate to a non-negotiable demand for 0%.

Why do you keep trying to belittle some of us instead of directly answering the question: how do you know what the NFT's position is?

Realistically speaking said...

I firmly agree with the comment from Chaz, this is a golden opportunity-sieze the moment! WHY is the original offer still on the table when we can not cover the cost without a tax increase? Do you not get it that this community is not in favor of, nor can we afford a tax increase?!? There is a long list of qualified teachers that would LOVE a job in NSD and would do so at an affordable salary & benefits pkg. Get it all done before Sept. Come on Mr O, don't let us down. All the reasons that they do NOT deserve a pay increase have been stated above. Please, re-tool the offer, make a stand for our community!

acs said...

KC, Are you saying the board is lying on the official website.
1. It has never been challenged as lie by the NFT or public.
2. If they are lying then it is clear grounds for impeachment of at least Mr. Webb since they are duely elected public officials that took an oath with their hand on the bible.
Now which is it?