January 15th is the deadline for teachers contracts to be settled for the state. We negotiate every 2 years. Some years it is settled shortly after school starts in the fall. Usually we don’t run it up until the deadline. Yesterday was the day we voted on our new contract. I guess we’re cutting it pretty close this year.
There wasn’t really anything too exciting about the new contract. The raises were minimal. How would people in the business world react to a 2.5% raise the first year and a 2.25% raise the second? I believe the cost of living increase this year was 4.17%. Since I’m still in the step and lane system, I still get my step increase so it’s not as bad as it sounds. But for anyone who has taught more than 15 years, that measly little percentage is all they get.
The good thing about teaching is that you can control what you get paid within the salary schedule. For instance, I have my Master’s degree and 30 more credits. Since I’m not getting my Ph.D., I can still move over two lanes and I have 3 more steps. The good thing about this system is that the pay is equitable no matter who you are. I don’t have to suck up to someone to get a raise. I also don’t have to go out and find a new job and threaten to leave for my company to come up with a counter offer.
Some people will argue that this is not a good system because the “bad” teachers get rewarded too. Well guess what? There are a hell of a lot more of us that are working our butts off than those that aren’t. You just hear about the bad apples in the media or from people because everyone always seems to share the bad stories rather than the many good ones.
The contract will undoubtedly pass. No one is excited about the contract. Would you be excited about a 2.5% raise? I wonder if we are so used to lowering our expectations that we just take what we can get? We obviously don’t do this job for the money. But if the money isn’t there to get quality people to do the job, we’re in a heap-load of trouble.
The one perk in this contract is an effort to reduce teacher workload. In the past we have been required to chaperone one dance per year. As of now, chaperoning dances is voluntary and paid. Yeah! I actually don’t mind chaperoning dances. But it feels good to know that I don’t have to. They’re good for lots of laughs and you come away with the best stories. There’s nothing like teenage drama. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned for prom…