Monday, December 07, 2009

Detroit Teachers Need A Better Option

If this is the best the Detroit teachers can get out of their union, they should do two things:
1. recall all their union officers, replacing them with people who are worth a darn, and
2. go on strike.

I'm hard pressed to see how going on strike would yield results worse than their union has bargained for on their behalf:

Cobo Center filled with a chorus of boos and chants of "No, No, No" Sunday afternoon as Detroit Public School teachers reviewed a tentative contract that will subtract $250 out of each paycheck, or $500 a month.

The money will be given to the district to help plug a $219 million deficit, and it will be returned when they retire... (boldface mine--Darren)

But union leaders say the best offers already are on the table and warned of dire consequences if the deal is defeated.

"Your pay will drastically be reduced and more than 1,500 members will lose their jobs," (union president) Johnson said.

Despite the overwhelming verbal no vote, union officials insist they will not change their original strategy in the next two weeks to try to sway the vote...

(Union Executive Vice President) O'Keefe said the district was asking for concessions that would amount to an average cost of about $51,319 per member. "That's money they'd never get back," he said. "What we're saying is take away $10,000 at zero interest, which we understand they don't like, but at least they'll eventually get it back"...

But Johnson issued an ultimatum. "Please be aware: If this ratification is turned down, and this district declares bankruptcy, seniority is gone, longevity is gone, oversized class payments are gone," he said.

Detroit may very well be doomed.


Ellen K said...

But along with the reduction in pay to "save the district" I bet that the union didn't cut one cent from what they take out every month, did they?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Unions are parasitic in nature. They don't produce anything so they are entirely dependent on the host and in the case of the Detroit Public Schools districts it's one, sick host.

The results of a couple of decades of mismanagement and irresponsibility are now impossible to paper over and if the district doesn't go bankrupt it'll be something of an economic miracle.

Anonymous said...

I would expect those self-centered jerks (masquerading as Detroit teachers) to go on strike. To Hell with the students they're supposed to be teaching!


Darren said...

Chicopanther, we'll part company on this one. I don't teach because of my students; I teach because it satisfies *my* lifestyle, it gives me plenty of time to spend with *my* kid.

When the best I can hope for is to have $10,000 taken from me with the promise that I'll get it back when I retire--in over 15 years--the students don't even enter the picture.

Anonymous said...


if your employer decided to randomly take $500 a month out of your pay -- for the good of the company, b/c some higher ups made poor financial decisions -- would you really care how well you did your job?

or would you care that suddenly you find yourself unable to pay all your bills? or barely able to pay them?

going on strike would certainly have a negative impact on students. the teachers shouldn't have to do that. they shouldn't have to consider it. that's what the union is for -- to negotiate these things so teachers DON'T have to. . .but when the union fails, well, the teachers have but one option.


W.R. Chandler said...

I don't know how much longer the city of Detroit can last. Is there any record of a city that big just melting away to nothing? Detroit has essentially lost the entire reason for its existence. Looking at it now, it's hard to believe that it was ever such a prosperous and influential city.

Anonymous said...

Folks, LOTS of private-enterprise companies sometimes have to retrench. I worked in Detroit (for a hospital) in the early 1980s, and there was a time we all had to take a 20% pay cut for about 6 months. They did that to try to avoid cutting any jobs, which would have seriously affected services to the patients (which was the reason why they needed employees--to serve the patients).

It seems sometimes that government-run entities seem "entitled" to never have to give up anything. Well, folks can try to forestall the day of reckoning, but the longer you put it off, the harder it will be when the entire company (or school system, as is the case in Detroit) goes belly up and EVERYONE in that organization loses their job.


Anonymous said...

I am a Detroit teacher, and yes I am thinking about my students. What am I teaching them if I vote yes on a contract that says I have to pay for the theft that has gone on in the district for years. What kind of an example would I set if I agreed that I'm not worth more than this sell-out offer?
How could I vote for a contract that gives an appointented manager who is not an educator the power to take over any school and turn it over to whatever consultants to whom he has promised lucrative contracts?

No, the union has not offered to cut their dues by one cent. This is one reason my union brothers and sisters and I stood firm tonight in opposition to our union president in his attempt to sell us out and turn the education of our children over to those who want to run schools for their own profit (and his as soon as his out of DFT office and probalby starts working for one of those consulting firms).

As a young teacher, I have had my issues with poor teachers protected by thier seniority while I have to survive lay-offs, but the "reform" their pushing is not the answer. It's time to quite deamonizing teachers like me who work so hard, pay for our own on-going education in order to be good teachers, and do so much more than teach academics. I spend my own money on snacks because my students are hungry. I have many students who can't get to school because they don't have a working vehicle or no money for gas. No one seems to care if they eat, or have electricity or heat at home, just how they score on a test. 90% of the student body at my school live in poverty. Of course they have just as much potential as any young people, but they need more support. But instead of investing in them by hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes, and getting the supplies we need to teach, our support staff is taken away and we are offered to have highly paid consultants come in and tell us what we're doing wrong.

As a society, we have many issues to address to solve the disparities in public education. Finger-pointing and blaming will get us nowhere.

To suggest that it's ok for a public shool district should be allowed to go belly-up is such sad statement. How can it be ok to bail out wall street and let our education system crumble?