Monday, January 31, 2011

I Thought That Slavery Was Abolished in 1863

Now that reality seems to have hit the state legislators between the eyes, and they are seeing what drastic cuts to education are going to do to the education system in Texas, the mad scramble has begun.

The mad scramble to find any way at all to decrease the pain to voters and taxpayers, and at the same time turn the screws a few more times around the collective thumbs of Texas educators.

Florence Shapiro, that noisome fly in the ointment of Texas Education has thought up another brilliant plan: to avoid laying off the projected 100,000 teachers that have been projected by some as a result of the budget deficit, why not make it legal to furlough teachers on “non-instructional days.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t relish the idea of losing 100,000 educators in the next two years, and I don’t relish the idea of me being one of them, but I see a couple of problems with this plan.

First, if you are going to cut a budget and it hurts, it had better hurt everyone, not just teachers. If your aim is to drastically decrease the allotment that education receives in the next two years instead of reallocating funds or postponing some funding for a couple of years, then suffer the consequences. Suffer the consequences of say, finding 100,000 people to fill those jobs later on, especially with the looming retirement of more and more from the baby boomer generation.

In other words, if you are going to dig a hole, make sure you can fill it back in some day.

But my second objection is possibly a little more impassioned.

I thought that slavery was abolished.

Florence Shapiro acknowledges that a teacher contract in Texas extends for 187 days, and that 180 of those days are “instructional days,” that is, days when students are in class. The 180 days is a state mandate. But Florence Shapiro wants to make it possible to furlough teachers on “non-instructional days.”

From the Chron:
“Superintendents are pushing for flexibility that would allow them to furlough employees, if necessary, on non-instructional days. ‘It’s something that superintendents are looking for flexibility on,’ said Jenny Caputo, spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Administrators.”
Now here’s the thing: in Texas, in order to maintain their credentials, teachers are required to complete 150 hours of “professional development” every 5 years. This is usually not a problem, and a teacher can usually fill the bill while being paid on these non-instructional workdays. But now, by requiring teachers to fulfill this professional development requirement at the same time declining to pay them for this, Texas is essentially re-instituting that time-honored practice of requiring someone to work without being paid for that work.

Slavery in other words.

Balancing a state budget on the backs of teachers, and requiring them to work without the benefit of getting paid. Your state legislature in action.

You get what you vote for.


EdK said...

How about allowing for a school voucher program? The current systems is awful for everyone but the administration. Vouchers will not only be better for students, but teachers as well.

Hal said...

A school voucher program would be fantastic if your aim is to destroy public education. That apparently is your aim. It is also the aim of Rick Perry, several SBOE members, several state senators and state reps, James Leininger and all the rest. And who knows with the way things are going, you might just get your wish.