Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The APS 1% "Solution"

Over the course of a typical school year, teachers sign their name in a number of patently disingenuous situations.
  • To prove they attended mandated "training" sessions on sexual harassment, "trainings" that center on watching the same video over and over and over. Despite watching this "training" repeatedly over a career, teachers still have to sign their name to "prove" they have been "trained" every single time.
  • Ditto for meetings about super-duper important "trainings" on standardized test security and "blood-borne pathogens". Every year, same signature requirement.
  • Then there's the devious principal required sign-in for the post-lunch Professional Development Day meeting on "power standards", "EPSS" or some other blindingly boring and pointless exercise in group wordsmithing and/or "brainstorming". Paranoid that their staffs will extend an 1.5 hour lunch into an afternoon spent at Kelly's being interviewed by Larry Barker while wearing official school product t-shirts and drinking their seventh beer, principals often use the signature method to measure attendance. I used to work for a principal who didn't use sign-ups, but instead placed spies at staff meetings whose job it was to detect late-comers and non-attendees. It's all about the love and trust, people, isn't it?
  • Then there's the "signing the contract" procedure. I signed my contract for 2009-2010...yesterday, on October the 20th, just as the first nine weeks of school ended. This after the principal had to make seven daily announcements about how important it is for teachers to come in and sign them. Of course everyone knows it's not really important to sign them. That signing them doesn't mean anything. That not signing them is reserved for crackpot whiners who use it as a chance for empty protest. Still, there I was yesterday scribbling my initials to a copy in order that it could be routed back to some remote corner of APS where it will sit with thousands and thousands of other super-duper important contracts never to be seen or touched again.
Now these cases above are beyond surreal in their ability to evoke meaninglessness and a vague appeal to ethical/moral guilt on the part of the signer. But School Year 2009-2010 offers us more. This year we get to sign something so stupid that everyone feels even dumber and more fake than when we sign for having attended the "Blood-Borne Pathogen Training" when we really can't tell a "blood-borne pathogen" from a Bloody Mary.

This year we have the "Sign Your Name for 1% of Your Salary" sheet. You see, back during APS union negotiations teachers were pissed because the Legislature yanked 1.5% of our salary out from under us by making us pay for retirement insurance for retired insurance salesman or something. I don't recall exactly.

Anyway, after deep negotiation, the Union and APS came up with a brilliantly pointless solution. Teachers would be paid an additional lump sum 1% of their salary to defray this Legislative rug pulling job. But how to justify this 1%? to justify it? And so the great minds of the negotiators spun and spun, and soon moral straw was woven into 1% gold.

Teachers would get the extra pay by attending "trainings" on their own time. The only record-keeping necessary to verify teachers had attended "trainings" would guessed it...signing their initials on a piece of paper with all the staff members names on it, just like at the "Sexual Harassment Training".

Which was smart, using the same signature method, because it avoided the need to have a "training" about how to sign our names. We're used to signing our initials to a little sheet of paper with all the staff names on it. We can do that.

So yesterday, while signing my 2009-2010 contract 47 days into the school year, I signed my initials in order to get this 1% lump sum payment. I have, of course, no intention of attending any "trainings" outside my school-duty day. I saw many other initials on that sheet of paper, and I know every single one those other folks have any intention to do so either.

The real purpose of the signing document is to co-opt teachers into participating in the lie that is "training", "power standards" and this 1% payment. By forcing us to sign for this crap, the District is saying "Yeah, we're without any morals whatsoever, but you are too...look, you signing your initials as part of a big lie for're no better than us!"

And we're not better than them. We sign. I wonder if we feel as bad for signing as they do for creating the disingenuous scenarios that lead us to meekly signing. I wonder if we feel worse.


Anonymous said...

"I signed my initials in order to get this 1% lump sum payment. I have, of course, no intention of attending any "trainings" outside my school-duty day."

God I hope I am not the only one that finds this disturbing. Even if "everyone else is doing it"

role model, schmole model

Anonymous said...

I signed. A little bit of my soul is now gone.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I think you do professional development outside the duty day all the time. Look at all the info and follow the money trails you give us in your blog.
The rest of us are just slackers!