Feb 6, 2011

WTU Looks For Ways Around Teacher Furloughs

By Candi Peterson, WTU General Vice President

Furloughs without pay are on the horizon for District government employees. Exempt from the furloughs are police officers and fire fighters as their furloughs would impair public health and/or public safety, in addition to, a handful of independent District agencies. Vincent Gray, although exempt from the furlough days as the Mayor, has signed a waiver to join the rest of DC government employees on furlough in order to help save the city 19 million dollars during fiscal year 2011. I applaud Mayor Gray’s willingness to endure the furlough days like other DC city workers.

Included in the mix of those to be furloughed are District of Columbia Public School teachers and school personnel. As a result of emergency legislation, known as the Balanced Budget Furlough Emergency Act of 2011, that was recently passed by the DC City Council – DC government employees will be furloughed on four designated legal public holidays during Fiscal Year 2011: February 21, Washington’s birthday, April 15, DC Emancipation Day, May 30, Memorial Day and July 4, Independence Day. The emergency legislation specifically states: "The District of Columbia Public schools shall not furlough a classroom teacher on a date when there is classroom instruction during an instructional period."

WTU President Nathan Saunders commented on teacher furloughs in a recent press release. Saunders stated: "Furloughs are the repercussions that workers face when subjected to government budgets which they don't control. City workers, including teachers, will now receive less pay as a result of poor budget decisions made by senior level DC government officials. At some point, the DC government must hold managers accountable for over-spending the same way it holds workers accountable." (Click furloughs for WTU press release). I contend that the Michelle Rhee/Kaya Henderson regime under the helm of former DC mayor, Adrian Fenty contributed to the DCPS' share of the budget deficit problem.

What concerns me is that we still aren't making the necessary budget cuts where they need to be made. After all, furloughs aren't a permanent solution for a budget deficit, and there is talk that even more furloughs will be proposed at a later date. I would like to suggest a number of ways to cut some of the public school bloat for the longer-term. Let’s start by reducing Interim Chancellor Henderson’s executive staff salaries by putting a moratorium on bonus payouts, reducing administrative staff in the central office inclusive of the thirteen new instructional superintendents who were recruited last May 2010 with salaries ranging from $120,000 to $150,000, eliminating Master Educators' positions whose starting salaries begin at $90,000 a pop and delegating all teacher evaluations to principals and/or supervisors, discontinuing non-essential testing of students, and putting an end to DCPS contracts that aren’t justified. Has anyone considered tightening our belt by conserving energy in our schools ? What happened to the cost savings as a result of the DC government freeze?

During our February 5, 2011 WTU Executive Board meeting, elected teachers and school personnel expressed their frustration about getting hammered at every turn due to DCPS overspending. Our board was in agreement that 'alternatives to furloughs' need to be considered. As a result of this lively discussion, the WTU Executive Board passed a motion which gives the Washington Teachers’ Union authority to explore 'alternatives to furloughing' teachers and school personnel before President’s Day, the 1st day of government furloughs. Washington Teachers' Union is interested in your ideas on how DC Public Schools can achieve real cost savings so that we can look for ways around teacher/school personnel furloughs. We will compile a list of your ideas and provide these recommendations to Mayor Gray amongst other strategies. The Washington Teacher blog will also post your ideas. Please email your cost saving recommendations to: helpdesk@wtulocal6.org or via fax @ 202-293-9732. Got suggestions- we’re listening.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty unclear about how it is legal to furlough us on days that we weren't supposed to work anyhow. I understand the notion of "no work no pay" for furloughing, but not just unilaterally getting rid of holidays.

If they want to avoid instructional days, how about furloughing us on the PD days in Feb and March?

Anonymous said...

I do like the idea of removing a few layers of people in DCPS. Firstly, the Master Educators could be removed; while I don't have a problem with being evaluated (or even with IMPACT, for that matter), I do have a problem with people who know little to nothing about the culture of my school coming in to any class for thirty minutes and seeing if what I am doing during those minutes meshes with their checklist. And since DCPS doesn't have a curriculum, what in the world are those people downtown doing? Seems like a great way to save money without hurting kids.
Instructional coaches could also go - maybe the "support" they provide could be provided by fewer people with content-specific credentials.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, I don't object to furloughs but just not on my holiday. Also, we don't work in July so what are they going to do about that one. Furlough us on PD days and make training optional at teachers discretion throughout the year. Lose one school day at the end of the year - we all know nothing happens the last week of school anyway. I prefer my master ed to the principals evaluations, but couldn't the master educator and instructional coach be one and the same, isn't IMPACT about improvement not firing?

Anonymous said...

Aren't we ignoring the obvious sources of savings? They would be:

(1) Closing some of our many excess number of schools: at least another 15. (2) A fearless Mayor and Local Six executives--should lead the charge to reduce the out-of-control SPED budget, which is eating us alive. Teachers and DCPS management and the Mayor can do better in defending us all from the demands of clever lawyers, while installing a system that does the job for the kids who need attention.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the multiple program managers for the related service providers. For many years, we've had one per discipline and things worked just fine. There's no need for multiple ones now.

Anybody can be a budget guru said...

It seems like somebody is finally thinking at the WTU about us. Who knew the WTU would ever consider my opinion about my salary being cut. I like it. I am excited about what my fellow teacher might come up like no more new school building projects at least temporarily. Let's cut the printing of impact evaluation books. Let's reduce salaries outside of the classroom over $100K. Let's combine the duties and responsibilities of mentor, master and instructional coaches. Let's spend bonus dollars on salaries of all personnel not the privileged few.

EFavorite said...

Candi and the commenters here all offer good suggestions.

Most require central office taking responsibility for the deficit. Do you think that's possible? The last I heard, Kaya was telling principals she was trying to get more out of Gray, as if the city were denying her money out of pure meanness and stinginess.

Anonymous said...

Start with ME, Instructional Superintendents, and ICs. You will save a bundle.

While ICs are out of the classroom, the teachers in the classroom are dealing with larger classes.

If we have such Highly Qualified administrators, they should be able to provide all the support their teachers need in the area of instruction. LOL

Anonymous said...

I would like to have an explanation, with all the math, of how the pay will be reduced. I have no idea how this reduction in pay (because it is not really a furlough) is calculated. Who can provide this math/formula?

Anonymous said...

This is not a furlough; this is just stealing the salary we were guaranteed by our last contract. Start by cutting IC's; waste of money for the ones I've seen. Next, set a cap on the salaries in central administration. I like the idea of an ME, someone who understands my content. The one I have met with is excellent and provides helpful feedback, not just criticism. I have heard some horror stories from colleagues though.

Anonymous said...

A bit late Candi and Nathan!!! The approval for the furloughs has already passed! WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE THEY VOTED TO PASS THIS THING?? Nothing like trying to change something after they have already voted, set the furlough dates and sent out notification to payroll! Wow... where were you two when this was first brought up? Nathan sent us a nice little note telling us that "furloughs are the best thing that they can do right now... we don't want to lose any positions" note a long time ago. Boy oh boy..nothing like starting off on the wrong foot CANDI/NATHAN SLATE!

Anonymous said...

Why not look at Central Office...cut some of those positions. They are not critical to classroom instruction and I am sure they make over $90k down there.

Anonymous said...

Instructional Coach positions must go. It is infuriating to see the lack of work they do at my school. I have a problem with ICs on a "leadership team" when they are ET 15s like all other teachers. I think it causes problems when ICs on the leadership team (who are ET 15s) are made to feel as if they "lead" over you---especially when you see them sitting in their offices/lobby or chatting with staff while we as teachers work our tails off. What are these positions for exactly??? If I need a coach, I go to a colleague/fellow teacher for help. I don't want someone on a leadership team to "assist" me--especially when I just feel animosity over the fact that I see them do very little work AT ALL.

Anonymous said...

The WTU should demand a complete audit of DCPS for the last 4 years and identify waste and fraud.
There have been plenty of people getting rich over the lack of transperancy and outrageous spending from the central office, especially consultants.

WTU needs to demand accountability and transperancy. Rhee needs to be exposed so that Henderson can't continue more of the same.

Also, when is our next meeting? I thought that they were to happen on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Last month's meeting was canceled and I haven't heard anything about tomorrow's meeting.

Anonymous said...

To show the real impact of furlough days, we should be furloughed on regular instructional days so the public is also inconvenienced by the mismanagement of city tax dollars, and not just the employees.

Candi Peterson said...

Reply to February 8, 2011 Anonymous 10:24 AM

It's never too late to NEGOTIATE and/or LOBBY, etc.. Nathan has been working behind the scences on the furlouhg issue and of corse everything we do won't be published on The Washington Teacher blog. In the words of Jill Scott, sounds like you are HATING ON ME (US)! ;-)

Candi Peterson said...

Reply to Anonymous Feb.8 @ 2;26

Our WTU Rep Assembly meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 @ 4:30 at Mckinley SHS. BTW the last meeting was not cancelled but we held the Transition Education Summit so that teachers and school personnel would have the opportunity to meet with Mayor Grays Transition team. We didn't hold both as we wanted to maximize teachers attendance at this event which was important so the rank and file could weigh in on IMPACT and working conditions.

Sounds like you aren't getting the literature that we send out to the schools on our WTU meetings and also via regular mail. Check with your WTU Building Rep. for information on meetings. If you are a member, then please contact the WTU to get on our mailing and email list.

Anonymous said...

Just like a friend said, we have too many people doing the same job in DCPS. They makes $90,000.00 or more sitting on their behind. Cut the pork in the central office now if you want to safe money for education.

lodesterre said...

I don't mind that there is a need to furlough but, as a previous poster said, let it be the PD days - that way the district would save both the money on us as well as the useless money spent on outside consultants. Otherwise it should not be called a furlough but a tax that we are paying to help the DC government get back on track financially.

As for where the money as gone, it is way past time for an investigation into the overspending that occurred under Rhee. Not just the money on the ME's - that is just the tip of the iceberg. How about looking at the money spent on consultants and organizations such as Kaplan?

Anonymous said...

What ever happen to the $545 million that was given to DCPS for renovating and rebuilding schools? When the money was given to the School Board to control, Mayor Fenty got rid of the School Board so that he could be in control of the money. Only a few schools were renovated or rebuilt. Where is that money? It seems to me that Vincent Gray needs to find out what hapopen to that money and use some of it to balance the budget. It seems to me that the children are paying the price all the way around: broken down buildings, deplorable schools, and outdated technology.

DCNeverSleeps said...

Save money?

Everyone has an opinion and I think all of the above mentioned could be used to save money.

A bit of everything is better than dumping it all on the teachers again.

I know everyone is different, but I would be personally willing to 'donate' or give up some of my sick days, so long as I would not lose any pay. Losing the pay is just wrong. I feel like taking a sick day straight after the furloughs, so I know how dc gov feels when it gets something for nothing. My sick days are ever increasing and can never be used. Gotta get those scores up! Can't have any staff missing one day! Every minute of instruction is important!

Just makes me feel....sick
...might need to take tomorrow off

Five To Go said...

Fire all Master Educators they are a drain on our teachers and our school system. Fire Kaya Henderson, what a loser. Fire all ICs they are ET 15's they have no authority over other teachers. The principal should be the only person to evaluate a teacher. Fire all of the Head Start coaches, they are of no use to a teacher who has taught for over 25 years. Fire Jason Kamras another loser.

Anonymous said...

Just like a friend said, we have too many people doing the same job in DCPS. They make $90,000.00 or more sitting on their behinds. Cut the pork in the central office now if you want to save money for education.

Anonymous said...

Comments here suggest some bad tudes, for ex., wanting the public to be "inconvenienced" by having the furl. on instructional days. Deep jealousy of those in positions other than classroom teacher because they don't have to "work their tails off." Could it be that some noticeable number of teachers don't want to teach or don't have the energy or the commitment????? They want to fire away in the central office, get rid of impact, etc. They want the good old days. Problem is, we never had good old days in DCPS in terms of increasing educational achievement. Not within the memory of older adults. If people cannot even open their minds to allowing that some changes are needed and are good for the kids and the city, however difficult, maybe they should shift careers. Do you think this makes sense???

Anonymous said...

No one likes a temporary pay decrease, but worse things can happen. We're pulling out of the worst economic downturn in 75 years and lots of people have lost their jobs and homes. Tax receipts are down, which applies pressure to the city budget.

A little perspective on the plight of your fellow citizens would go a long way. Your union representation will certainly fight for your interests, but they aren't miracle workers.

Anonymous said...

Candi and Co and e-favorite, I totally feel the calm with the New WTU leadership..suggestion cut the ME's..to anon 1.08 you sound like one of the disgruntled teachers at my school. The poor coaches often tell me that the teachers are so "superior"(in their attitudes) that they need do not need coaching despite achievement issues. When you see one chatting and the animosity is building up, tell him or her to start a coaching cycle with you. Be proactive as we remember all ET-15's share solidarity. Also, it is important that coaches are part of school leadership as discussions of teaching and learning are analyzed. The issue sounds like school culture..Too bad.

Feisty said...

This isn't really a solution to the budget issue, but just a thought I had reading the comments.

I'm hearing lots of "fire the ME's, fire the IC's, fire the...". The reason you want to fire these people is because you think they're ineffective. Fine. But when someone says "fire the ineffective teachers" the people who post on this blog have FIT.

Idiots are idiots at every level. Some are administrators, some are coaches, some are teachers. We need to be willing to fire them all. No one is entitled to a job - everyone must EARN their pay. Most of us do. Some of us don't -- and I want a union that appreciates that.

Five To Go said...

Fire all Master Educators they are a drain on our teachers and our school system. Fire Kaya Henderson, what a loser. Fire all ICs they are ET 15's, they have no authority over other teachers. The principal should be the only person to evaluate a teacher. Fire all of the Head Start coaches, they are of no use to a teacher who has taught for over 25 year. Fire Jason Kamaras another loser.

Anonymous said...

Some good points..Ineffective is all ET-15's..teachers, coaches, mentor teachers..the union job is to protect..how can they protect with such confusion among the levels of teaching when we are pointing fingers at each other. I am feeling so sorry for the Saunders/Peterson slate. They have inherited a group of crabby union members. As a poster pointed out, it seems that classroom teachers are feeling a little something over positions of ET-15's which are not classroom based' 'working their tails off.' Question..are you 'working your tail off' and spinning in circles or are you 'really' involved in ALL students achievement. I encourage you to still pull your IC in the classroom to coach you through. It makes a difference, their training is different than that colleague.

Anonymous said...

At our school we have Preschool (3 years old) and Pre-Kindergarten (4 year olds). The day begins at 8:30 with breakfast in the classroom until around 9 a.m. From 9 a.m. until 10:10 the students have instruction. At 10:10 the classes go to their special subjects until 10:55. From 10:55 until 11:30 they eat lunch and then 11:30 until 12 recess. From 12 until around 1 they have instruction and then from 1 until around 2:30 the children nap.

I think DCPS would save a large amount of money with A.M. and P.M. Preschool and PreK. We have two sections on Preschool and two sections of PreK, by having A.M. and P.M. shifts, this would reduce the amount of teachers needed considering they spend much of the day napping and this would be 4 classes of students that do not need to be fed. We would be able to save on teachers and aides (an aid is in each class).

Though this would be a change for DCPS, most school districts in the US do not have full day PreK or Preschool.

Anonymous said...

I suggest the following:

Eliminating Master Educators' positions whose starting salaries begin at $90,000 a pop and delegating all teacher evaluations to principals and/or supervisors.

Reason Being: I have been the Teacher who came in new to the district and have taken these students from a 20% proficiency to a 80% in Math. I am the one who both the Principal and Asst. Principal have congratulated me, in Bruce-Monroe Elementary School.

However, I have received a negative evaluation from an M.E. and I will stop at nothing to remove this evaluation from my file. This is still in process.

Please don't send M.E.'s to evaluate Teachers who have more experience than the Teacher.

Anonymous said...

Anon at February 12, 2011 12:40 AM, this clearly shows the problem because I on the other hand trust my MEs. The system is open to abuse from both sides and clearly isn't working.

I support my IC said...

After reading some of these posts I feel I have to speak up in defense of my IC. Yes, there are some lazy ICs in the system. The IC I work with though takes her position very seriously. She takes student achievement very seriously and she takes teacher success very seriously. She know every student in the building, except Pre-K and K, by name, grade, proficiency level, and area of weakness. When someone in our building needs something that has to do with students; instruction; TLF; curriculum resources; etc we go to her, not the administration because she is one of the few in our building that actually works.

As a teacher I am sick of people constantly dumping on me and my peers about what we're not doing, what we should be doing and how we are so ineffective. I am sure some people who have commented feel the same way. But what makes you any better than those who dump on you when you have no problem saying that someone else's job is expendable. Not every IC is ineffective and to be quite honest, when she leaves next school year I do not believe she will be replaced with someone who has the same work ethic and dedication. I can understand why she feels disrespected and wants to leave because teachers are treating her position like many in the public are treating ours. But just like the system is pushing out good teachers, teachers are pushing out good ICs.

N.D. said...

Please email your cost saving recommendations...
you asked for it....

Eliminate master teachers, coaches and newly hired superintendents, (we haven't seen ours even once.)

Stop the excessive meetings for staff inside and outside the building, encourage increased efficiency and reliability within buildings, promote video conferencing.

work 4 10 hour days

get thermostats on radiators in schools vs relying on old fashioned boilers that force too hot air, excessive heat

increase computer usage vs excessive paper usage in schools, stop massive copying and worksheets

hand air dryers in bathrooms

Last but not least:

HERE is a group that WTU should "suggest" might be appropriate for review/reduction....
http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion
/columnists/2011/02/examiner-local
-editorial-do-they-really-think-
theyre-worth-much-more

W.R. said...

Here's my response to Candi Peterson's blog.

1) These are not real furloughs. They are either, depending on how one looks at it, a special tax being levied on all government employees or straight robbery out of our pockets. To be real furloughs, the days taken would not fall on holidays, when we do not work.

2) Trying to find ways for DCPS to save enough money to avoid furloughs sounds to me like a vain exercise. WTU can try to explore this, but this must not deflect us from taking a strong stand, hopefully with other public employee unions joining us, insisting that furloughs -- if we must have them -- must fall on REGULAR WORKDAYS. My suggestions for that would be to cut 4 of the following workdays (or any others that DCPS might propose):

-- February 18 Professional Development
-- February 28 Parent Conference Day (this is less desirable than the May 16 Parent Conference Day listed below)
--March 18 Professional Development
--May 16 Parent Conference Day
--May 31 This will be a regular school day after DC CAS testing is long over and the end of the year is nearing. Although it would take away a day of school for children, it would give everyone a 4-day weekend, which would be popular with some parents.

--June 17, which is only a half-day for students anyway. Move it to June 16, half-day, with record keeping for the other half-day. Since DCPS is giving teachers NO time to pack up, most teachers would still be in their schools on Friday the 17th, in effect working for free; but they'd be packing out. This would at least make the furlough more palatable, because we'd get onto our summers one day earlier.
--Assuming DCPS is scheduling us for as much PD as it did last August, take one of those days

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, PD days for furlough days and 1/2 days. IC/MEs schools should have one or the other but not both. Cuts in central office - well probably not going to happen. Stop paying TFA.

AChandler said...

AChandler said...
No one can explain how the IMPACT evaluation system is a legitimate one. A neutral party, not DCPS administration (including MEs) should have created IMPACT, nor the more recent modifications that were made to it. How can the creator(s) of IMPACT be involved with making the final evaluation decision of teachers, counselors, and resource providers? Please select a reputable university to make all modifications. Then have a pilot period with the results validated by that institution. What is definitely needed in the modification is a tool that allows a portfolio or other documentation to support the side of the person being evaluated. Combine documentation with a discussion at the time of a review. Let the DCPS evaluation instrument become a professional model that other school systems can use.