Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does the public buy what the NFT is selling?

Two letters of interest in today's Courier Times. The first was a guest opinion from NFT President Louise Boyd in which she criticizes the newspaper because she believes they have "repeatedly chosen to stir up anger and resentment against Neshaminy teachers."

Ms. Boyd also sticks to the script of the new PR campaign to directly link educational goals to contract negotiations by saying "Neshaminy's teachers are ready to discuss the issues and programs that help them help the children in their classrooms. That process will identify the costs of the district's educational goals and will inform discussions on how resources are allocated."

Although I am not on the Board's negotiation team, I don't foresee discussions about educational goals becoming a part of our ongoing contract discussions. In my opinion, the two are separate topics and should be discussed accordingly.

Another letter in today's Courier is from activist Matt Pileggi who questions Is this the kind of leadership teachers want? Mr. Pileggi points out that "The NFT leadership has sacrificed two years of the service of its members. It has exhausted a wealth of community good will. It has played hardball with taxpayer money and stood firm on unrealistic demands during negotiations. It has sabotaged the education and learning experience of more than 9,000 children."

If anything is evident from the reaction by the public to the NFT's latest strategy, it is that parents are grateful that WTC has ended, but they still do not trust the teachers' union leader nor do they believe in the sincerity of her latest message.


Silence Dogood said...

No, we don't buy it, and here's why. The WTC was an abysmal failure. Instead of aligning the community behind the NFT, it alienated it. Boyd still declared the WTC a success. The NFT seriously thinks hardballing the students of the Neshaminy School District, alienating our Armed Services Veterans, demanding unreasonable benefits and salaries and forcing good teachers to play the union's game fair? Until Boyd is removed from her position, the union apologizes to the parents, children and the community at large for it's childish behavior, this tax payer will see the NFT as nothing more than a cranky, spoiled CHILD and a black scar on an other wise good school system.

Susan said...

A tremendous amount of misinterpretation seems to surround the recent influx of letters regarding the Neshaminy School District contract negotiations. I am referring to the letters sent by the so-dubbed “small, angry vocal group”.

At no point in time have we ever attacked the PROFESSION of teaching and have oftentimes stated in various media how much we truly value our children’s teachers. Were you to conduct a census, you would find that, despite your opinions of various individuals, we are a highly committed and deeply involved group of parents. We are the parents that, under normal circumstances, teachers love because we’re always there to lend a hand. We show up for conferences. We maintain contact with staff and we keep abreast of our children’s progress through the Home Access center. We are not the parents who frustrate your efforts in the classroom due to apathy. We have been and remain supportive of moving education forward.

In order to move forward however, far more than the 20 percent operating budget we’ve been forced with which to work is required. This is the 20 percent of the overall budget remaining once salaries and benefits have been allocated. In her guest opinion, Neshaminy Federations of Teachers President Louise Boyd insists that in the interest of fair negotiations, (paraphrasing) the union requires the costs associated with the “operating budget” be known and discussed first before they can make any accurate assessment regarding salaries and benefits. The Board maintains the starting point of negotiations should be the 80 percent budget portion of salaries and benefits. The so-dubbed “small, angry vocal group” supports the Board’s position with the following example.

For 3 consecutive years, your household budget is $75,000. In year 3, both you and your spouse take a combined 30 percent cut in pay, equivalent to a loss of $22,500. You are now left with $52,500. Your mortgage payment, utilities and other living expenses remain unchanged. Common sense dictates you must now consider where to make necessary, albeit unwanted expense cuts. So where should you start? You may begin by cutting the little things like eliminating your weekly pizza take-out, or subscription to the newspaper. But ultimately, common sense prevails and you must consider your highest costs in order to achieve a positive outcome.

The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, representing teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses, would like to start small; the Neshaminy School Board wants to start with the big-ticket item. Starting small just postpones the inevitable.

We recognize the importance of the teaching profession and its impact on students and the community, and therefore do not begrudge the attractive salaries some members earn. Where we do take exception and stand in grievance, are over the taxpayer cost of the “Cadillac” health benefits that the union wants to remain untouched until they have the opportunity to analyze the “little things”.

When it comes to spending, we’d all like the opportunity to consider first what should come first: educational programs and initiatives. Sadly, until the big pink elephant is moved out of the way, we don’t have that luxury.