In Kent, RESPECT is not spelled K-S-D. — Update 8-13

If the Kent School District wants to avert a teachers strike, administrators certainly didn’t act the part at the bargaining table Wednesday. KEA’s Bargaining Team witnessed antics more reminiscent of misbehaving middle schoolers than highly paid administrative professionals. Examples: Starting nearly a half-hour late because the district wasn’t ready. Eye-rolling. Huffing. Puffing. Unprepared with administrative materials KEA had previously requested, in writing. An extended silent treatment, even when asked direct questions.

“Disdainful.” “Antagonistic.” “Dismissive.” Those are the adjectives that KEA bargaining team members used to describe the administrators’ behavior during negotiations Wednesday. Add clock-watching to the list. Even with a strike looming, administrators made it clear they did not want to extend the four-hour bargaining session.

“If we didn’t want to talk about what they wanted to talk about, then it was like we didn’t have a reason for being there,” said Connie Compton, a Bargaining Team member and KEA Vice President.

KEA President Lisa Brackin-Johnson told the Kent School Board Wednesday night that KEA members want to be in their classrooms Aug. 31, if the district negotiates a fair contract. But given the administration’s bargaining-table antics, it seems as if the district is in no hurry to settle.

“Where’s your sense of urgency,” Brackin-Johnson asked the board. KEA has offered to continue bargaining as often as the district wants to meet. Watch video

The issues:

* Much of Wednesday’s agenda focused on KEA’s formal response to the district’s all-or-nothing package, which was unveiled at the last session and centered on a teacher pay increase coupled with one day of additional work. KEA once again emphasized that Kent’s educators are concerned about broader issues than pay, and that the district has not yet recognized the time and workload problems that impact our members or Kent’s students. KEA noted the district’s latest package did raise the beginning teacher salary nearly equal to what the union has proposed, and that by itself was a positive step. The practical impact is less dramatic, however, because Kent is hiring virtually no brand-new teachers. The district’s proposal for mid-career and veteran teachers quickly lags behind KEA’s proposed 6 percent raise. But more importantly, it does little to make Kent competitive with nearby districts.

The district insisted that its proposal was a significant increase and disputed KEA’s concerns about the district remaining uncompetitive in the region. Judge for yourself: here’s one more look at the numbers:

Experience Level:

BA-0

BA45/5

MA0/5

MA/11

MA45/20

Top Step*

Average of local TRI pay in KSD’s hand-picked districts

$5,380

$6,292

$6,761

$8,277

$10,395

$11,369

KEA proposal $4,834 $6,532 $7,051 $8,518 $12,024 $13,712
KSD proposal $4,837 $5,247 $5,551 $6,660 $9,420 $10,948

* Most districts reach the top step in 15 years; Kent teachers must work 25 years

At the July bargaining session, the district proposed adding a second year to the contract. The second year (2010-11) would add 1.6 percent in total pay above Year 1, and requires yet another 1.5 days of work at the direction of the district. On Wednesday, KEA responded with its counter proposal for a second year: A 4 percent raise without additional days work, plus an additional $80 per employee toward monthly health insurance costs. KEA’s earlier proposals remain on the table to address overcrowded classes, and more time for students instead of administrative meetings. The district so far has refused to address them.

* The most encouraging discussions Wednesday came on KEA’s proposal to extend to ESA members the cash bonuses provided by the state to classroom teachers with National Board certification. ESA members such as psychologists and therapists often undergo rigorous certifications in their own specialties. It appears the district supports extending a $5,000 bonus to ESA members, but not the additional $5,000 incentive for working in a high-poverty school. Details also must yet be worked out over which specific national certifications qualify for each specific ESA job category.

* KEA has proposed dealing with workload issues and the glut of administrative meetings by adopting a weekly early release or late start. Some districts have adjusted their instructional day one day a week to provide time for staff collaboration, time with students or parents outside of class, and administrative meetings; The district’s bargaining team said the district was open to the concept, but would have to conduct “learning sessions” with the community first. KEA suggested shifting the schedule one day every two weeks and the number could expand after further community input. The district said no, it wants community meetings first. That means implementation would be at least a year away, if at all. The district’s “learning sessions” proposal does not include KEA involvement.

“Teachers are telling us teachers are overwhelmed with their workload right now,” KEA’s Compton said. “What is the district willing to do to get more time for teachers now?”

“I don’t have an answer for that,” a district negotiator replied.

* The district also confirmed Wednesday that standardized test scores are part of “student needs” that would used for teacher goal-setting, on which staff are later evaluated. KEA recognizes that variables beyond a specific teacher will impact test scores, including the learning environment within the school. For that reason alone, KEA is not willing to link evaluations to test scores. KEA instead offered a proposal clarifying that student achievement is a shared responsibility, and is impacted by the priorities set by the district. The KEA language states:

“The selection of goals for the employee involved in the professional growth plan phase of the cycle shall be developed according to the direction included in the Professional Growth and Assessment Flowchart. When setting goals, the employee will take into account the improvement of his/her professional practice, and the district will provide all appropriate resources and an instructional environment, including reasonable class size and work load, that will best allow each employee to address the needs of his/her students.”

District negotiators rejected the proposal.

“A teacher’s working environment is a student’s learning environment,” KEA’s McNett reminded the district.

“I don’t want to go there,” the district’s negotiator replied. “Next.”

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32 Responses to “In Kent, RESPECT is not spelled K-S-D. — Update 8-13”

  1. theresa Says:

    Our bargaining team deserves better than this. The teachers of KSD deserve better than this. How insulting!
    Where is the district leadership? I thought Dr. Vargas was going to bring fresh air to the district. But if this doesn’t get straightened out soon, it looks like it will be more of the same….
    Oh boy. Buckle your seatbelt!
    Our general meeting in on Wednesday, August 26, at 5 p.m. at Kentake.

  2. One take on the events in Kent Says:

    I believe the district is waiting to see if teachers vote to strike, or not, on the 26th. If teachers vote NO to a strike, then the district can pretty much dictate the terms of the agreement. Teachers will be faced with district proposals that they can approve or reject, however . . . the district will have little incentive to do better at that point. The district proposal was posted on the District website, but appears to have been removed.

    If teachers vote YES to the strike, then, I believe the district will begin bargaining in earnest. Surely the district has privately concluded what kind of agreement they can live with at this late date. Once again, I believe there is no incentive for the district to reveal their true position, unless they know that teachers will strike.

    Comments?

    • Me Too Says:

      I so agree with you. It’s like buying a car. If the car dealer knows you won’t walk away because you really want to have that car today, then the car dealer will not lower their price any more than they have to.

  3. CounterpointSue Says:

    I taught in Portland Public Schools the year that things came to a head with their bargaining (1996). The day after we voted to strike, the contract was settled. We never walked the picket line. A strike vote is a very powerful message. So is the lack of an authorization to strike. At this point, if we fail to back up our negotiating team, we will have only ourselves to blame for the fact that we’ll be working without a contract and will have a weaker one when it is settled.

  4. Really? Says:

    After watching the video of Lisa speaking to the board, I was stunned at the way Dr. Vargas was looking: uncaring, not interested, slouchy seating in his chair with his head being held up by his arm. Seems to me he has no interest in getting to the bottom of the issues. Welcome to Kent Dr. Vargas. We are a group of well prepared professionals who won’t be sitting in our seats looking uncaring or not interested. We are working hard to get this contract to an acceptable place where both the KEA and KSD will be happy. We will get there and we, the KEA members will come out the better half. We have been negotiating with good faith and professionalism. They have not.

  5. Brandy Says:

    I hate this. I hate the way it pits peole against each other. I hate how the whole situation promotes conflict. I don’t even read the newspaper articles or responses from people (like the KOMO interview) because it makes me feel frustrated and all the negative bashing on teachers makes me feel an inch tall. I’m sure that some KSD people feel the same when they hear/read negative things about them. I hate how the real issues have gotten misunderstood and twisted. It mimics all the mess in the political arena right now.

    I don’t know if anyone agrees with me on this or not but here is my thought and what I am willing to strike for:
    smaller class size
    time to meet with my team and plan
    time for my family
    less paperwork so I can spend time with students and teach
    someone to realize and awknowledge how hard I work and all the time, energy, money and worry I put into my students
    value in my input and my knowledge of students

    I’m not putting money on there. Yes, the salary increase would be wonderful and make it easier to make the bills. A bump in signing bonus is fantastic. But honestly my biggest frustrations are the time and workload issues. Somehow, it seems like all the district is seeing is that we want more money. The public comments on us wanting raises. For me it’s not about the salary increase. It’s my ability to provide and be the best teacher for my students. I can’t do that with an inflated workload and no time to do what is needed.

    I know some people wont agree with me on this and that’s okay. We all have our own “willing to strike list”. Just like our students, we all have our own needs.

    I just want people to understand it isn’t just about salary increases. That seems to be lost on the district and community front.

  6. kteach Says:

    I’m in total agreement with Brandy. I love the idea of getting a bigger raise, but it’s not a MUST for me. MUSTS for me are making sure my class sizes are manageable and making sure I have time to teach.

    We need community support if the district is going to take us seriously, and I think we need to make sure that we’re focusing more attention and more of our rhetoric on how our demands will help kids and make us better teachers. Otherwise, we just end up SOUNDING bitter and self-interested. It’s not that we don’t deserve to ask for more every once in a while, but, like Brandy, I’m worried about community perception when what seems to get the greatest focus is money (and I know this is going to get me some flack, but…) especially now, when people are already bitter over job loss and pay cuts. The only thing this can do is make them direct that animosity toward us.

    If we can get more money, great, but what I really would like to see us focus our attention on now are reasonable workload and class size.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I agree…it seems silly to me to be negotiating salaries when so many people are loosing their jobs or are having their salaries cut. I’m thankful for my job and hope to be teaching Aug. 31…because it’s what my students deserve.

      • I Care Says:

        We would not be asking for salary increases if the Kent S.D. did not have the money. But they do!! by their own admission they ended this past year with at least $3 million more than the previous year. You do the math!

      • kteach Says:

        What I’m trying to say is, I think we’re in a tough place as far as getting community support (which IS important in our current situation, because it puts pressure on the district to work with us). Even if the district has loads of money to spend on raising salaries, it makes us look bad to fight for money at a time like this. If we focus our efforts on workload and time, we’ll be more likely to be successful this time around, and maybe in the next round of negotiations (assuming the economy improves), we fight for a bigger pay raise. At this point, it’s more important to me (and to others I’ve spoken with) to have time to teach and small enough classes to do so effectively.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Personally, I have watched and listened to other teachers in other districts going through contract negotiations for higher pay during GOOD economic times and their community still bashed the teachers for standing up for what they deserved and believed in. So, at what time do we stop worrying about what the community thinks and just take a stand on important issues that impact not just our working conditions, but our personal lives? We have two kids to send through college and it’s pretty tough to do so without taking on a second job–even with our kids holding jobs themselves and taking on loans.

    The point is, you could have a million dollars in your bank, but does that mean you don’t deserve professional pay? How many doctors, lawyers, or engineers have made the sacrifice to forgo higher incomes just because they were worried about what the community thought? Yes, the economy is hurting right now, so why don’t we go and ask our doctors to reduce their office call fees?

    As a teacher, I am tired of giving in to other people’s wishes. I’ll strike over all of the above: compensation, workload, time to plan, class size!

    Teachers are the one group that society counts on as being the most congenial, submissive, docile, nurturing, and forgiving. I cannot forgive KSD for taking advantage of me even during good economic times. I thank KEA for opening our eyes to what CAN happen for our profession–respect, rights, compensation, reduction in workload, and more time for students.

    • just a thought Says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head! I agree 100% with your statments. The economy is hurting, not our district….and no one cares about our poor salaries when economic times are great! I will strike for all of the issues for which we are negotiating for as well! I am tired of not being respected, trusted, or compensated for when the work I do is over the top and the time I spend on it is insane…AND the time I don’t get to spend with my students because of class sizes is ludicrous! Thanks for posting your thoughts, I think you are right on!

  8. Brandy Says:

    The ironic thing is a pay increase just means the money gets put back into the classroom anyway. Considering we spend so much of our own money on our kids, at least we can control what the money gets spent on. (rather than programs that are uselss)

    • I Care Says:

      I would implore you and all teachers to not spend their own paychecks because they are short on supplies. That misleads the parents and public into an illusion that we are well funded. Remember, if you spend your own money on things the district should be supplying then please, do not utter a word about a low salary.

      • Kent Parent Says:

        I agree. I’m always looking for ways to volunteer and/or send supplies, but more often than not I get “ok-we’re fine, thanks for offering…”. or “send the antibacterial wipes and Kleenex”. By the end of the year, our classroom didn’t need anymore wipes or Kleenex. What other supplies are needed? Tell me and I’m happy to share that burden of cost and shopping. I’m sure its the special/thoughtful things that teachers are creating and shopping for, but still, some parents can and want to assist in the cost. Lets keep an ear open for improved parent/teacher communication.

  9. CounterpointSue Says:

    Hey, everyone, we seem to be on the same page regarding time and workload. Let’s focus on the fact that we all agree on that and work harder to get the word out to the community.

    Some of us would not choose to strike over compensation in this economy, but the time, workload, and job evaluation pieces are deal breakers. If that is you, tell people that. That’s going to make sense to some people. Others of us believe that compensation is incredibly important and that the district has the money, even in this economy, but isn’t choosing to spend it on the classroom. If that is your position, tell people that. That will make sense to people who wonder why KSD is holding on to so much money.

    These are all valid reasons for taking a stand that members of the community will understand–if they actually hear that from you. Remember, there are some people who won’t understand anything you have to say, and those are often the ones that think you are paid to babysit their kids so they don’t have to pay for daycare.

    Last couple of thoughts regarding compensation: One, please don’t let anyone tell you that you should accept less pay because you went into teaching to help people and don’t do it for the money. Also, please don’t sabotage your own sense of self-worth by telling yourself that you don’t do this for the money. Of course you do this for the money. Unless you are independently wealthy, you have to pay the bills and support yourselves or your families, too, and eventually the income you make now will determine how comfortable your retirement is later. Like others in the general community, you are choosing to do a job for which you are highly qualified and enjoy. If you had to do it for free you would be doing something else to pay the bills and could only volunteer occasionally (like many PTA parents). Altruism is all well and good–until you’re 65 and want to quit teaching but can’t afford to because you don’t have enough savings.

    When you tell yourself that you aren’t doing it for the money, you are actually putting yourself down indirectly. You have allowed society to convince you that your motives for teaching are purely altruistic instead of monetary, much like society likes to tell women that they have to be skinny and beautiful to be of worth. Is money the primary reason for your career choice? Of course not, but don’t tell yourself that it isn’t important. Let’s have a Dr. Phil moment here and ask, “What are you getting out of this?” Every action we take results in our getting something in return. That’s why we do it. You are getting the satisfaction of a job well done, the knowledge that you are helping people and are molding the minds of future generations, and a paycheck so you can support yourself and your family. If you tell yourself that the money is not important to you, you lack a true self-awareness of your full motivations for teaching. Don’t believe me? Go without your paycheck for one month and see if you still want to do the job. Be honest. If you weren’t paid for the work, you would pick and choose which parts of it you’d be willing to do. Know yourself, accept yourself, warts and all. It’s okay to say that you’re in teaching for the money. Really. You’ll get a good laugh out of most people–but you’ll also make them think.

    (All this being said, I would have accepted the district’s compensation package if it hadn’t had all of the strings attached to it. It’s less than I want, but negotiations are about give and take–but that doesn’t change my next thought….)

    …..Second, we have an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. The district very conveniently sent out a letter to all families with a little blue piece of paper that shows why they shouldn’t spend the $21 million they say they have. It all looks very reasonable and professional and would convince most parents that we are unreasonable to ask them to spend it. Now that we know it’s actually $27 million, THEY HAVE BEEN HOISTED BY THEIR OWN PETARD. Union leaders, fellow teachers, students, supportive parents, GET ON THIS NOW!!!!!!!! Call the newspapers, call the television media, find an investigative reporter willing to do a story on this, email all of your neighbors, put a sign in your front yard, DO SOMETHING! The district has no excuse left for refusing a compensation increase–WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHED–and they proved it themselves on paper!!!

    (Dang, I wish I lived in Kent right now! I make a mean yard sign. For my part, though, I have enlisted some retired teachers in Federal Way to come help walk the picket lines with us should we strike.)

    Above all, though, even if you think that everything I wrote about compensation is you-know-what, tell people why YOU’RE unhappy. Tell them what YOUR issues are. Make it personal.

    See you at the rally Wednesday. I’ll be the one in black.

  10. teacher Says:

    Call Jesse Jones! ….couldnt resist…..I would say Ken Shram but if he didn’t agree with us it might backfire.

  11. SickandTired Says:

    Well said CounterpointSue! I am tired of the district’s mantra of, “what is best for the kids.” It is high time that I do what is best for MY OWN two children! I am fully invested into the KSD, as I teach and live in this community. I’m not going to say that compensation isn’t important because it is, especially when my husband and I both teach in the KSD. If the district doesn’t get real, then we (both my husband and I) will have no qualms about voting for a strike. I care about my students , but at this point it is all about my own two children (their education and our family finances). I’m sure they would be happy with parents that weren’t so stressed out over workload issues too.

    Our whole family will be on the picket line if the time comes… See you at the General Membership meeting–Kentlake on August 26th at 5pm.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Do I want to strike? NO WAY! Will I vote to strike if nothing changes between now and the General Membership Meeting? HECK YES!

    This is not just about the students this year, but about the students years into the future. We all know how the issues of time and workload are wearing us down and taking away from what we can accomplish in the classroom. If we let things continue in their current state, our teaching, and more importantly, student learning, will eventually falter. These issues will wear us down and burn us out to the point that we will be ineffective in the classroom and have no energy left to fight for what is right for our students. We need to fight not just for the students we will have this year, but for all of our students years into the future who will ultimately be impacted by this decision. Sure, it would be easier to start school on time rather than going on strike to improve these issues, just like it is easier to give a 2-year old throwing a tantrum the cookie he wants. Yes, the immediate problem would be solved, but at what price? I cannot, in all good conscience, advocate a short-term solution that will cause much greater harm in the long-run than dealing with the negative situation at hand.

    This is a battle, make no mistake, and just like any battle, it will be hard-fought and hard won. We need to steel ourselves just as any warrior does before going into battle. No one wants to got to war, but sometimes they are forced to do so to defend what is just and right. I feel the same way about going on strike. If we surrender, we surrender not only our future, but that of our students. That is why I will fight.

    As much as I want to be teaching instead of walking a picket line, as much as I care for my students, I understand that if I TRULY care about them, I will think of their long-term success, not just the short-term of getting them back to class on time. I will vote to strike not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do.

  13. Dose of Reality Says:

    Dear Teachers,
    I respect what you do immensely. I could not teach a classroom full of teenagers (likewise, I don’t believe that most of you could do what I do either, thus the mutual respect necessary here). HOWEVER, although teachers have a busy time during the daily school hours and many feel that they cannot do the best job possible because of time and personnel constraints, the fact of the matter is that most employees in most companies, especially small business owners, feel that way. That is why it is called work! There are always challenges and constraints, for everyone. I’m a small business owner in Kent. I, like most small business owners, work 10 hr days, have kids, try to make bills, and stretch the funds that I earn. I haven’t had more than a couple of long weekends off for more than a year and haven’t had more than 2 weeks off in more than 10 years. This is the reality for most of our community. We work, and we work hard for the cash we earn.

    When I look at what the KSD is offering teachers ($40,261 for new teachers w/ no experience up to $75,888 for those with the most experience) and then annualize those salaries, since teachers are working only 9.5 of 12 months, those annualized salaries go to an equivalent of $50,963 up to $96,060. That sounds like pretty good compensation to most people around here. Add to that the fact that teachers get 24 days during the school year when there is no school, that other regularly employed people do not get off, and annualize those paid days off, that amounts to 30 days off (or an annualized equivalent of 6 weeks paid vacation). This is a benefit that most employees, even the most senior rarely get. If you say that those “no school, teacher workshop” days are not days off, most people would not believe you. It is our general understanding that those days off were to be teacher training days but that no curriculum has been established, no goals, and no evaluations of progress for that time spent are in place. We as parents hear nothing about the progress made for teachers during those costly days off…..yes they cost each of us parents because we have to either take unpaid time off from our work to accommodate your needs, extend the time kids are in day care, or leave them to their own devices, which can be costly as well, none of those options are good for the kids. We all clearly realize that since the workshop days were moved from Wednesdays to Fridays that they are really now monthly teacher long weekend days, for which we, the parents are paying.

    This is why the community does not feel much sympathy for teachers’ complaints about salaries or time constraints. You are simply galvanizing most of the district’s parents against you. We are all working hard. We vote in funding for school levys to support educational systems and because we also care deeply about our kids education. You are also not gaining much sympathy for teacher’s comments about not having enough time. The kids are in school hours 6.5 hrs/day. There are additional 2 hours per day to put in a standard blue collar work day; note that most salaried professionals put in well more than 8 hrs per day. Taking that time plus the monthly paid teacher training day, you have an additional 12 hrs per week to accomplish responsibilities outside of class room time.

    Most of us work-a-day people do not understand why you are unhappy. Most of you have a better deal than most of the people in our community. It may be challenging to find equivalent employment for the Summer months to bring your salary up to the annualized amount I calculate above, but that is the trade off for getting to be home soon after your kids do, for getting so many days off during the school year, and having all Summer off. Because the school district has some extra funds that weren’t spent last year, doesn’t mean that those should be consumed in salaries. Most businesses need reserves.

    Again, I respect what teachers do. I also respect everyone alike until they prove that they deserve otherwise. Respect does not always translate into higher salaries or easier jobs. I know it is a challenging environment, perhaps some of those extra funds ought to be spent dealing with the impediment that difficult students present to all teachers and their fellow students. That is a challenge to learning; that is a significant problem; that is a huge issue that seems to hold students back from achieving their potential.

    Viva teachers! But please do not hold KDS parent’s incomes and kids’ educational progress hostage to your demands for more when we are all struggling.

    With utmost sincerity,
    HN
    Parent of 2 in the KSD

    • kteach Says:

      I respect your opinion and your position as a community member and a fellow survivor in this economy. I agree that asking for higher salaries right now is not the direction we teachers should be pushing, but there are some other points on which I must disagree with you.

      1. “the kids are in school hours 6.5 hrs/day. There are additional 2 hours per day to put in a standard blue collar work day; note that most salaried professionals put in well more than 8 hrs per day. Taking that time plus the monthly paid teacher training day, you have an additional 12 hrs per week to accomplish responsibilities outside of class room time.”
      12 hours per week equals roughly 2.4 hours per day; however, during the monthly teacher training days, we are only given 3 hours to work on our own. Which means the average is actually somewhat smaller. For sake of fewer math problems, let’s assume I actually had those 2.4 hours per day. In those 2.4 hours, I must:

      -plan 2-3 hours of public speaking
      -create handouts
      -complete research
      -keep my classroom organized
      -tutor students who are struggling academically
      -provide a listening ear for troubled teenagers
      -respond to parent, student, and faculty e-mails
      -meet with teachers who share students with me
      -grade papers, daily work, tests, and quizzes for 130-140 students (by the way, if I spent 1 minute grading assignments from each of my students in one day, that would almost entirely eat up that 2.4 hours)

      Those are the things that I NEED to do to keep my classroom running. What’s happened is that ON TOP OF THAT, we are often (and I mean often) asked to attend meetings before or after school during what is supposed to be our time to work on all of those things I’ve listed above. THAT is the issue. I have no problem putting in hours. I’ve put in 10+ hour days since I started teaching, but I’ve never been in a district that required so much work ON TOP of what I should be doing for my students. I want time and ENERGY to focus on my students and my classes. That is what you are paying me to do, not to attend pointless meetings about things that could be addressed through email or that don’t pertain to me at all.

      2. “If you say that those “no school, teacher workshop” days are not days off, most people would not believe you. It is our general understanding that those days off were to be teacher training days but that no curriculum has been established, no goals, and no evaluations of progress for that time spent are in place. We as parents hear nothing about the progress made for teachers during those costly days off…..”
      Teacher workshop days are not days off, because we either go to meetings or opt out of pay. During workshop days, we are required to work with administrator-implemented programs, such as Understanding by Design and Small Learning Communities. Think of how much we could get done, how much more time we’d have to focus on our STUDENTS if those days WERE left to us to work on all of those things I listed above.

      Again, I understand the sentiment, and I know that we’re going to be up against a lot of it. I hate the thought of striking. I know what a negative impact it’s going to have on this year. But if it gives me more time FOR MY STUDENTS, it’s worth it to me. Education is a rare field in that what we do has huge ramifications for the future. I can appreciate that many people put in more than their share of hours of work each week, but we have pretty precious commodities in our hands. We need the time and energy to do the best we can.

    • Disgusted Says:

      I appreciate the time you took to write your comments but there were a few things that gave me pause while reading. I’d like to help clarify a few misconceptions you may have.

      First of all, apart from being paid hourly rather than salaried, teachers do not fall under the blue collar definition and should not be compared as such. Blue collar workers are often in fields such as manufacturing or construction and require little higher education. In teaching, we are required to have many of the same skills as white collar workers and the same if not more education than most. About half the teachers in my school have their master’s or higher and the rest of us will be at least working towards it. Also blue collared workers punch in at a certain time and punch out at a certain time. While technically, teachers may do the same, I don’t know of a single one who does. We either arrive early, stay late, take work home or have some combination of the three. It is the only way to do our job successfully. My typical workday is 7:30-5 and are sometimes much longer, rarely shorter.

      Regarding teacher training days. There are goals and a curriculum in place for these days but as it is usually of little interest to parents as a whole, the effort to put out our agendas has not been made. If you would like to know specifically what we are doing those days, I’m sure your school would be happy to provide you with that information with a phone call or you student’s teacher can fill you in. I can tell you that as a music teacher, we meet together as a group on those days and share activities, compare strategies, learn new techniques about teaching instruments, songs or reading activities and share things we have done with our technology tools. We also sometimes have guest speakers to help present. It also gives us a chance to come together as a group of teachers who all teach the same subject which is invaluable as we are often isolated one to a school.

      The problem with saying “If you worked all year, here’s what your salary would be…” implies that we have the option of working all year to earn that salary. While I would be perfectly willing to do so, I unforetunetly do not see the school system changing much about the school calender in the near future. Summer vacations are too ingrained into our culture and way of thinking for us to change it. Thus what we are paid must be acceptable as a yearly salary for us to be able to live all year, not just during the 10.5 (last two weeks of August-end of June) months we are working. In regards to getting a second job during the summer, who’s going to hire us? About the only places we can hope to get a job are places like Target and McDonalds or summer day camps, overnight camps if we don’t have a family. You are a small business owner, how eager would you be to hire someone in June, spend the money to train them and get a few good weeks out of them before they leave in September? Work during the year, you might say. I did that my first few years of teaching. I was lucky to get a summer job working at a restaurant that was desperate for team managers. I continued into the year working ONE day a week and I ended the year completely burned out and exhausted. Yes it was only one day a week but when it was added to my school responsibilities, my family responsibilities and a few activities I enjoy doing, it was not a reasonable situation.

  14. ITeach Says:

    I light of the district’s proposal wanting to add two days of paid work, I have a pertinent question. I want to compare apples to apples – to receive the TRI pay listed in comparable districts, how many days/hours are required beyond student days? Where can I find out?

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      You will find that most districts do not have a Big Brother laundry list of things teachers need to check off. Most districts pay teachers for those hours by considering it “work deemed done”, in other words, they know that teachers do work outside their contrct day that goes to benefit student learning and trust their teachers enough to let them do what they see fit to achieve that goal. My question is, why are they just adding workshop days when it would be more effective to change the actual salary pay scale? This would show more trust and respect from the district (oh wait, clearly they don’t understand those concepts) and go a long way in attracting the best teachers to work in the district instead of driving them to other districts.

  15. OMG really Says:

    Dose of Reality
    You really have no idea what you are talking about. Well written… yes ….factual no. Try sitting down with a teacher and listen to them explain their job and their frustrations. We are not salaried employees who are paid to work 40+ hours per week…we are paid only 7.5 hours per day. We have to continue taking workshops and/or college courses because we must have 150 clocks hours of school to renew our certificates every 5 years, and this is after a 4 year college degree, a 1 1/2 year teaching credential, and most of us continued on for a 2 year Masters (7.5 years of university). We are college educated professionals trying to shape the future and make a difference in the life of children with little help or support from administrators or parents. I have 2 students in the KSD also and they are receiving an excellent education from their TEACHERS not the district. However, class sizes are out of control and good teachers are leaving due to the lack of disrespect ….my kids deserve more support from the district and the community.

    Thank you teachers for putting up with misinformed, non sportive, and negative parents and the disgraceful KSD.

  16. OMG really Says:

    We are NOT salaried employees….we are paid HOURLY 7.5 hours a day….

    What I did not say is that the majority of us work 10 hours + a day, which means after the 7.5 hour day we work for free…..

  17. Teacher Says:

    Dear Dose,

    With all due respect to you, you are misinformed about teacher pay. First, our salary is pro-rated across 12 months. We get paid for 9.5 months, but because our salary is pro-rated, we are able to receive a paycheck during the summer months. This gives the illusion that we are paid for 12 months of work.

    Second, those 24 days of school you mention are unpaid days. Each day your child/children is out of school (except for workshop days) is an unpaid day for us. All of our vacations are unpaid. Every other holiday such as Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Day are unpaid days for us, whereas I know of some people in the business world who get those same days off but they are paid days for them. That was a surprise to me. Our contract says we will work 181 days and that’s what are salary is based on.

    Where is the reasoning behind saying that we have long weekend days because workshop days are on Fridays instead of Wednesdays? Weekend days are Saturday and Sunday. We work on those Friday workshop days. Also, we are prohibited from taking long weekends because we cannot take a Friday or a Monday off if it backs up to a vacation. About those vacations. We don’t ever get to choose our vacation times. If we do, we must take leave without pay.

    Parents don’t gain much sympathy from me when they bemoan the fact that it impacts their daycare situation when we have workshop days. We are not in the business of providing daycare. Teachers who have school age children face the same daycare issues as you. Some parents tend to forget that many teachers have families too. If schools were daycare centers, your tax dollars wouldn’t cover the cost of each teacher being paid per child.

    How many people in your line of work have advanced degrees and still need to have a summer job to make ends meet? Teachers go to great expense to earn college credits, beyond their BA, that will advance them upwards on the salary schedule and to earn their advanced degrees and professional certifications. Do your employees pay for their own salary increases?

    During the 6.5 hours students are in class, teachers are delivering instruction to students, working individually with students, or teaching small groups of students. Would you rather have teachers take part of that 6.5 hours and use it to do their planning for the next day and correct papers and communicate with parents, rather than do those tasks after students leave for the day? That would be time taken away from your child’s education. That certainly isn’t in their best interest. Most teachers do put in an 8 hour day or longer, only we aren’t paid for 8 hours. The extra hours that are unpaid are spent making sure we are ready for the next day, informally assessing students, and quite often talking with parents who just happen to stop by and want a conference. A well structured, well managed day doesn’t happen by magic. Careful planning makes a day in the classroom look like a walk in the park to the layman.

    As for getting home soon after the kids do, that is not the recollection my grown kids have nor do I recall my own teacher mother being home right after me. In fact, that’s how my sister and I learned to cook. We were in charge of getting dinner ready.

    It is also a misconception that we have ALL summer off. I spent the month of July taking staff development classes. Truthfully, sometimes I do it to earn extra money, but mostly because I want to stay current with Washington state standards and to keep knowledgeable about current teaching practices. Also, it is necessary to take classes during the summer and during the school year to keep up with the many additions and changes the district makes to our teaching programs. It’s a good thing I don’t need a summer job because I just don’t know how I would have fit one into my summer “vacation”.

    Like you, I pay taxes and vote to pass levies. As a taxpayer, I am concerned about why more of my tax dollars are ending up in the KSD’s savings account and not into my classroom. As a taxpayer, I question the district’s spending priorities. Why does the district spend so much money to spiff up our classrooms with technology but then won’t spend the money to place a full time computer teacher/tech support person in each building? And don’t even get me started on the state of the art telephones that were placed in every classroom. I would have rather had a new copier machine. Ours is broken, most of the time, but the district won’t increase our school’s budget so that we can buy a new one. KSD seems to have plenty of money to spend on the things they want. As a taxpayer, I want to know why the paid administrators couldn’t get the job of bargaining done. Why did the district go to the expense of hiring a professional negotiator? KSD used taxpayer dollars to hire someone to do a salary comparison of districts similar to Kent. Couldn’t one of our paid administrators have done the same thing? As a taxpayer, I am very concerned about the spending priorities in our district.

    You may be struggling because of the current economic situation. But many new teachers and teachers who are the sole support of their families will continue to struggle long after the economy recovers.

    So there you have it. A does of reality from a teacher’s perspective.

  18. Teacher Says:

    I meant to say a dose, not does, of reality.

  19. KWStudent Says:

    As a student in all of this, I just want all my teachers to know that I will be right there with you should this mess come to a strike. Teachers are amazing people who deserve so much better. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I feel you should know your students are in this with you. I have never had anything less than an exceptional teacher in the Kent School District. Maybe if the board took into consideration how much my teachers have shaped my life, they could put my best interests at heart like they keep claiming to do.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Thank you KW Student. It’s kids like you that keep many of us from quitting Kent S.D. Teachers always advocate for their students. We feed them from our own lunch box if they come to school hungry because their parents haven’t fed them or they ran out of food at home; teachers go out of their way to do home visits when off the clock because they care about their students’ lives outside of school; teachers cry with for those students who come to school bruised and bloodied because their home life is very abusive and dysfunctional. Those are just a few of many, many things teachers do for kids!

      Take note, all you naysayers who do not know what a teacher’s career is all about. YOU have no inkling.

      I am very happy to see that KW student knows what we do for kids.

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