pay to play lament: west chester area school district teachers picket

“Pay up!”

“The district has the money!”

Ah yes, the things that are heard on the picket line.  As in yesterday, in West Chester.

I have written about the ongoing issues between the teachers and the West Chester Area School District before.   And I am about to be the most unpopular girl at the dance again as far as these teachers and their supporters go. However, much like yesterday’s teachers who picketed and those who support them, I am also allowed to express my opinion on the topic.

One teacher heard hollering for the benefit of the television cameras who bore witness yesterday said it wasn’t about the money, it was about making a “living wage”.  I am sorry, did I hear her correctly?  Are teachers in the West Chester Area School District so grossly underpaid? Am I to envision the need for tip jars on every teacher’s desk throughout the district?

I truly don’t think so.

And whomever wants to can jump all over my back for having that opinion, but after following this story off and on for close to a year now, that is how I feel.

As I said before, I will say again:

Ok, here is what I think: Both sides will of course (to an extent) interpret the facts to suit their cause.  No one is perfect.  When the economy was better, I am sure everyone can agree this district spent like a drunken sailor on leave, correct?

So now times are tight.  Funding, grants, you name it are down. Which means both sides need to give as they get.

However, that being said, I think this teachers’ union and others need to wake up and smell reality.

They aren’t being asked to suffer a great injustice if they have to contribute towards their healthcare benefits!  Give me a break!  I am one of the millions of Americans who pays for their own healthcare out-of-pocket.  As in 100%.  And oh yes, I paid for breast cancer doing that and survived just fine.

Salaries.  My goodness, where else can you earn a fine salary and take off a few months a year on the taxpayers if you so choose? Wow.  Most of us in the private sector have considered ourselves lucky for years if we managed to get a cost of living salary increase!  Sorry, but between the salaries and the retirement benefits that enable teachers to not only retire early, but if they have been paying attention, retire rich, I do not feel the love in a need for an 18.3% bump up over three years.

Accountability.  Charter schools and private schools hold teachers accountable.  Heck most jobs in this country exist with a review process as part of the every day  dealio. Public school teachers should be equally accountable.  But if everyone is accountable than those who should have either chosen other career paths or been put out to pasture can’t slide by any longer, can they?

But is the school district itself with 100% clean hands here? Doubtful, never seen one that was.  School districts have all sorts of issues and skewed politics.

Now, do I believe there are people who are underpaid? Yes.  School District employees like teacher’s aides are often grossly underpaid.  But the teachers?  I am not so sympathetic.

And  I have a comment to the blond teacher who said on camera “we want fair wages for our work…we live in the district too.” My comment?  Simple.  If these teachers live in the district then they KNOW that there are a lot of people living on a LOT less than they have.  People without jobs, struggling to make ends meet.  People without benefits.

The day of the fatted calf is done.  These teachers have a LOT more than a lot of other people. Period.  This economy sucks for a lot of people, not just teachers.

If all of West Chester Area School District were so fabulous then they would not have kids being home schooled. Or in Charter Schools.  Or in private schools. Or in Catholic Schools.

I am sorry, but it truly upsets me to see people who have decent jobs and benefits most can only dream of  complain chronically that it is never enough.  If it isn’t enough, then they have options including going to work for other school districts and moving.

But to stand there and complain when so many more are going without right in their own district, well enough is enough. Grow up.

And think twice before you roll up on this blog and accuse me from hating teachers.  I don’t hate teachers. I know a lot of them.  And some of the teachers I know live with a LOT less all the way around than the teachers in the West Chester Area School District.

Overall, I think a lot of school districts spent a lot of years being bloated and neither teachers nor administrations planned adequately for “rainy days”.  Furthermore, yes times are tough, but in my mind that doesn’t mean you just shell out more to some, while so many others go wanting.  And there are a lot of people in Chester County, let alone West Chester who are seriously wanting and in need.  Maybe these teachers need to go volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks – see what real need is. Right in Chester County.  Right in West Chester.

I apologize again for those who feel I am being strident.  It’s just the simple fact that SO many are detrimentally affected by the current state of affairs as far as the economy in Pennsylvania and the US as a whole.  These teachers aren’t by themselves suffering on a little deserted island.

West Chester Teachers Rally For New Contract By David Kinchen, Reporter

FOX 29 News September 25, 2012

West Chester teachers say they have been working without a contract since June 30th and want the West Chester Area School District to pay up.

“We happen to know that the school district (is) finding money and has the money to settle these contracts,” said Debbie Fell, president of the West Chester Area Education Association. …

District leaders say the school budget is fine for this year.  However they are worried about deficit projections up to $18 million two years from now and want to be careful about future financial agreements.

Union leaders say they have already saved the district nearly $3 million by agreeing to pay a pay freeze last year.

Both sides will continue negotiations on October 10th

West Chester Patch: West Chester Teachers Rally for a New Contract

Members of the West Chester Education Association gathered outside the district’s administration office to rally support for a new contract.

ByJake Speicher Email the author  5:45 am

The West Chester Education Association held a rally in front of the district’s administration building before Monday night’s school board meeting.

“We didn’t get in this for the money,” said teachers’ association president Deb Fell in front of a crowd of district teachers.  “All we want is a fair wage.”

Didn’t get into it for the money?  Really?  Good to know, from an outsider’s perspective it is hard to tell. Seems to me the teachers are telling us ordinary lay people that we are just supposed to work our tail feathers off to support them? At the expense of what we can afford? Do they think that the WCASD administration is just going to pull the money out of thin air? Or knock over a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?