This came our way today. We print it with permission of its author.
I am a NYCDOE teacher that has been employed with the department for close to 20 years. I am writing because I am appalled at the substandard pay and working conditions that city teachers face. And, with pattern bargaining looming, I am absolutely devastated at the prospect of 3% per year raises that our DC-37 union counterparts are negotiating.
We teachers get in early; this year I am getting in close to an hour and a half before my students enter the building and many of my colleagues do as well. We work during our lunch period, with a bite here and there because we are so busy. One prep period per day for elementary school teachers is woefully inadequate and often consumed with meetings of one kind or another. Weekends and weekday nights are also consumed with planning for our students.
Don't get me wrong; we love our students. The call to nurture these young people and to help them to be happy and successful in their chosen paths brought us to this profession and sustains teachers to remain in this, our calling. Sadly, I can't tell you how many colleagues have shared how unhappy, stressed and profoundly exhausted they themselves are.
As blurry-eyed as we are, we can still register the disrespect that is broadcast to us-DAILY. Assaults on retiree healthcare, micromanagement that has been enabled by the Danielson Rubric and a weak contract with many loopholes laying the groundwork for administrative overreach, and NOW- the promise of pattern bargaining that pretty much enshrines that teachers will see the same 3% raises per year that our union brother and sisters from DC-37 are negotiating. For shame!!! And people like me- who toil through the nights and early mornings in a profession that is INTEGRAL in building an informed citizentry for generations to come- is staring at the REALITY that I myself can no longer afford to pay the mortgage on my one bedroom apartment anymore, my credit card bills are mounting with grocery and gas bills that I couldn't afford to pay outright, and the rest of my humble living expenses in one of the most expensive metro areas in the country certainly will not be covered on my NYCDOE salary. I now know that after almost 20 years as a teacher, I will most certainly need to sell the only and most valuable asset that I have sweated for in all these years--my home--because I cannot afford it anymore.
I am sorry to say this, and it is with heartache that I utter this, but I can pledge that I have NO CONFIDENCE that the United Federation of Teachers is willing to lead the charge to help their own members fight for a better tomorrow. Therefore, I am calling on the City Council to put forth legislation that will call for salary increases IN LINE with current inflation that will allow teachers to put food on the table and to pay their housing bills, having an automobile, gas bills, and savings for retirement that will not necessitate public assistance. Protect our healthcare from substandard care that will come with Medicare Privatization. Lest we forget, we are the direct line to the next generation of citizens. The future of our society depends, on large part, on our working jointly with our respective communities. Respect teachers, give us the salary that we TRULY deserve; stop with the micromanagement. Nourish the teachers, give us the respect that we deserve, and the roots of the future will be truly strong.