Friday, July 25, 2008

A Little Backstory On the Two Percent APS Raise

Firmly in the "news you thought you had already heard quite some time ago" department, us APS teachers are getting a 2% raise this year. And yes, that's the raise the Legislature approved months and months ago.

Meanwhile, as the Journal has pointed out in a series of stories that have all said the same thing, insurance premiums for teachers will drown out much of the raise, with gas prices performing a coup de grace on beyond what's left.

I have little to add on the subject, but will point out a little, uh, point left out of the discussion. And no, it's not some bitter remark asking why the Hell we have a teacher's union when they can't fight for anything beyond a 2% raise. In fact, my measly point is anything but bitter.

It is this: public school teaching actually pays pretty good these days. A few years back, when teachers in New Mexico were paid at a level commensurate with a barrista at Satellite Coffee, the union and others fought for a three tier pay scale.

A number of shiny, flaming hoops were instituted for teachers to mind-numblingly jump through, such as a "dossier" (more about that sometime soon), leading from Level 1 (galley slave) to Level 3 (respectably paid galley barrista and whip-holder). It seemed to take forever for the pay to match the Level, but the last two years have seen a 25% pay jump for many of us Level 3 dweebs.

25% is a good chunk of change, especially for us "experienced" teachers who were used to experiencing near-poverty conditions for years and years.

So I'm not feeling like I have much to gripe about with a 2% raise this year. True, if I belonged to the Teamsters I would probably be out threatening APS Board Members kneecaps with a crowbar after being insulted with a 2%. Also true, if this 2% bullshit continues for the next three years I will certainly be investing in a new crowbar.

Still, I'm letting this one slide, and would rather focus on non-pay matters, such as the creeping tendency of schools to want teachers to become mindless automatons reciting scripted curriculums just because the school has "failed" meeting No Child Left Behind standards. Good teachers are already leaving because of this, and some schools have already become glorified Slyvan Learning Centers.

Now that's something worth breaking out the crowbar for.

P.S.: I spent a soul-crushing half-hour yesterday calling State and District trying to find out when test scores would be made public. In every instance, the support staff I spoke to would reply with "what test scores?" and claim that I was pretty much the first person to call their office asking about these scores. Ah bureaucracy, how I have missed you this summer. And no, I haven't found out when the scores are hitting the schools or media yet.


pay my dues said...

If I guessed that
you do not now pay union dues;
and that you never have,

would I have guessed correctly?

jscotkey said...

PMD: I've noticed that some teacher folks treat a question like that as if one is asking about one's religion or the price they paid for a used car.

But I'm cool with it.

I'm a union member. Have been for the last four years, with spottier membership before that (taught at a charter, for instance, and charter teachers get zilch support from the union, so not a member during that time).

Did the whole walking in a circle outside APS offices back in the mid-90s holding a sign while Don Watley wore that cowboy hat and urged us to do something, something, something (I never could understand what that guy said, especially when he used a megaphone). Let my membership lapse for a while as a political gesture during what I thought was a particularly ineffectual ATF period in the later 90s, but changed my mind after:

1. teaching at the aforementioned charter school, which will give one a better understanding of the difference a union, even a pretty ineffectual one, can make.
2. the whole Tier/Level pay system went into place.

Thanks for asking, PMD. Hope my long-winded answer wasn't too tiring.

PMD said...

Not at all. Thanks for your response.