Teachers want fair, reasonable settlement
I teach first and second grades at Ramona Community School in the Montessori Academy. This is my 11th year in the district and I couldn’t imagine teaching anything else, anywhere else. I love my kids, my program, my school, my colleagues. I announced when I was 6 years old that I planned to be a teacher, and I still wouldn’t change my choice for the world.
That being said, this year, more than ever before, I am feeling very depressed about my job. In the past several years, as the district budget has grown tighter, I have gotten little or no raises. Not even cost of living. OK, I love my job, I can handle this. Our supply budgets have gotten smaller and smaller. That hurts my family’s already tight budget, but I spend large amounts of my “time off” during the summer to shop all the sales so I can get more for my buck. My own personal buck that is. This year we had to increase our class sizes and move a teacher to another site: 24 students instead of 20 — more work, more time, more stress — but I’ve made it work. In March, we lost our evening custodian. I now have my students stop working a little earlier each day so they can do extra cleaning around our room, so it’s not as much of a burden on our amazing lead custodian who is trying to do even more work than he already did. I even do extra cleaning after school and bought a small vacuum to catch what the kids don’t. All at an additional cost—time, stress, money—for myself and my family. I do it because I love my job and I love my students.
Now I’m hearing that teachers are refusing to make “concessions” in our difficult financial situation. I’m sorry, but what about all those things I’m already doing to help out? Don’t they count as concessions? Next year you tell me that I will have 29 students in my class. More concessions! When RTA declines a demand for teachers to take three furlough days, we are criticized. I didn’t go into teaching to get pats on the back. I get all the thanks I need from the looks on my students faces. I also didn’t go into teaching to be made out as a villain when I’ve done everything possible to help. All these concessions are hurting my family and me, financially and emotionally.
Is it really necessary to dig the knife in even further with furlough days, permanent pay cuts, and less benefits? The district’s latest offer could mean a permanent pay cut of 13-18% for many of our teachers. I know that would cripple my own family, and I’m sure most other teachers are in similar positions.
Please stop and think about what this is doing to all of us. All the teachers are asking for is a fair and reasonable settlement, based on actual numbers, not the district’s over inflated projections that have proven year after year to be ridiculously exaggerated.