|Right now would be good|
Last week there was a PUSD Board meeting. Mary was there, but I was not. It was the first meeting I have missed in a while.
I was in Austin at something called South by Southwest (SXSW) playing music alongside bands like Clutch, Orange Goblin, and Fidlar for Thrasher Magazine and Converse Sneakers. Playing music doesn’t pay my bills, but it is a second income, and it is helpful.
One thing I missed was the teacher who spoke and shared that she was having trouble making ends meet. It was along the lines of being near poverty level and not being able to afford hot water. At $74,000 a year ... I dunno, that sounds iffy. Head Librarians and counselors in the PUSD make more than teachers in PUSD, btw. Whatever (click here). Everyone needs work and should be paid whatever they want to be paid, right?
I happen to know, and I like this particular hot waterless teacher - and understand her frustration, but times are tough and we all have to give up something. Though, I don’t think hot water has to be it.
Listen. I make about the same amount of money as that teacher. I have two teaching credentials, and a Master’s Degree. I have been in the classroom for 25 years. That is the standard salary. There may be a slight variation between counties, but it is slight. I believe I am receiving a competitive salary for public education.
Deal with it, or play cards at a different table.
Yes, I am saying that Ed Honowitz (click here) is not to blame for the Pasadena teachers lacking hot water. He is the cause of a great deal of idiocracy (click here), and that is going lightly, believe me - but not the lack of hot water. I’m not saying he should be cleared of anything (click here). Ever.
I chose to work in education, not in management. I could have gone into management, but I didn’t. You couldn’t pay me enough to be an Edwin “Phone-Bone” Diaz (click here), Michael “The Phantom” Jason, or Elizabeth “Bucking” Blanco. I still have a soul, however charred you may believe it to be.
You couldn’t pay me enough to teach in special education pseudo-management either. I applied for a program specialist job once. I was interviewed by a communication teacher who had narcolepsy. She used to fall asleep in my classroom every week. She was, of course, immediately promoted, and a year later I was interviewed by her. I was better qualified for the job she held because I had a teaching credential which Communication Specialists do not.
During the interview I told her I was better qualified for her job, and that being interviewed for a position by her was the equivalent to being interviewed by the Head of Special Education who had an administrative credential, but no background in special education. He was also present for the interview. They smiled - but the smile was not in their eyes. Insincere smiles. Easy to spot.
I was chuckling, and as happy as could be. A regular old grinning loon.
The next series of questions were simulations to determine how I would respond to situations in which parents and district were in conflict. I answered every question - there were four - as honestly as I could. I told them I would do what I came into this field to do - I would advocate for the children. I explained in all four scenarios how the district had violated the children’s rights to a free and appropriate education.
One of my interviewers was sleeping before I finished my interview.
When I got home I told Mary that I interviewed well, and that I was proud that I would not get the position. The person who did get the job was a communication specialist. All of the positions of this nature went to them. The structure of most districts is to support these in-demand professionals because they are the hardest to keep without incentives.
Within six months all three people had left the district to go somewhere else. One of them even got an award from Elizabeth Blanco along the way. Awards are generally a way ineffective people recognize one another for their mediocrity.
I accepted my role, teacher, and never applied for another position like that again.
I am a teacher. I am proud, overworked, underpaid, and smart enough to know what is important in this field. The kids.
Listen. I accept my curse (click here). I make $75,000. I have more education than I know what to do with, and I have always been more interested in processes that in products. That doesn’t sit well in a data driven field based on loose numbers and fluctuating statistics.
In my life I support myself, and four other people on that check. Oh, and a little dog. When I can, I play rock and roll shows to raise money for myself, also for friends who are ill, and also for people who are down on their luck. I have no regrets. I believe in people and I help as much as I can. I also have hot water.
However, if Pasadena teachers lack water that is hot, I suggest the United Teachers of Pasadena take it up with their city, and not with the PUSD School Board. The World Class City Council sets up those limits in water and power. The mayor’s name is Mr. Bogaard. Just in case you didn’t know.
Tell him I said, “Hi!”
Salaries and Hyperbole
Back in the 2010/2011 school year my child was being taught by a teacher who also serves on the local union’s executive board. Dig the rhetoric. The teacher used all of the correct lingo, family, community, partnership, focused, cooperative, open door policy, pro-volunteerism. It all sounded so good. Who wouldn’t succeed in a place like that? It sounded like Romper Room. Everyone had a place in such an environment, right?
Well, yes and no.
Everyone but the Brandenburgs. See, this teacher was in charge when everything in my child’s life went to hell, and when I had a heart attack. In fact, she was the teacher in charge when my child was being removed for hours at a time from instruction, and then placed into a storage classroom. I am not saying she had knowledge of this, but she was the teacher in charge so it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Teacher/Rep’s salary that year according to salary records was close to $98,000. Not bad. $25,000 more than I earn, and half of my experience.
In fact, take a look at what the salaries of the starving Sierra Madre staff are, and everyone else. Keep this in mind - more than ten of these people are the very same people who called me at work - making it impossible for me to do my job, causing me significant stress, disrupting my family, and then eventually declaring all out war on us.
These were fellow teachers - and instead of supporting our family, they set the dogs of hell loose on us. They called me, again and again, essentially telling me that they weren’t capable of doing their jobs. So, I suppose it was the right time to punish me for it.
The difference between Local Teacher/Rep and I? I can handle students like my son, for a comparable cost - or less - and teachers like her can’t. Or won’t.
Local Teacher/Rep, at a salary of $98,000 a year - cried in the staff room, situated right next to the cafeteria where all of the parent volunteers would be at lunch, and to Gayle Bluemel - her administrator, and to Elizabeth Blanco - the head of special education, and directly to a couple of parents, too.
Not too shabby for a teacher who couldn’t handle a seven year old autistic kid.
Not too shabby at all.
Politics Make Strange Bedfellows
See, in politics, things are kind of tricky. There was some protesting going on back then, it usually happens every few years, and some years management and teachers are best pals (click here), and some years they are bitter rivals. This year is a bitter rivalry year.
That means people are going to be mean to each other.
Back when my son was the talk of the town, though, that was a year of palsy-walsy between the teachers and the management.
Well, maybe there’s more to the tale that none of you knew (click here).
Listen. Local Teacher wasn’t just your average second grade teacher. She was, and I assume is - on the Executive Board (click here) for the United Teachers of Pasadena. When I met with Elizabeth Blanco in November, 2010, this information was made very clear to me by Blanco.
Blanco told me the teacher was a union representative. What Blanco didn’t make clear, but what I knew, was that the situation as it stood would be a case of PUSD and the union rep working cooperatively and sacrificing a child - my child - for what they called the greater good in that particular year - of friendship between management, and workers. They even brought in some parent volunteers to document it all. That my friends, is called politics.
I am sitting on 700 pages of documents about what happened to my child at Sierra Madre Elementary School. I am well aware of what went down.
I discovered a couple of photos of Blanco and Local 2nd Grade Teacher/Rep marching together out in front of PUSD to raise awareness of educational cutbacks a couple years back (click here). That was one of those cooperative years.
Keep this stuff in mind when United Teacher President Alvin “$102,000 a year” Nash is complaining about the salaries of administrators and the pink slips that have been handed out every year since the district began (click here).
Keep that $102,000 salary in mind when the UTP refuses to provide fair meeting times for working parents of families of special ed students who can’t afford to attend IEP meetings during work hours if it conflicts with teacher hours (download February Voice click here) even though this is a Federally mandated law that is being rejected outright by the far more legally pressing local union.
Keep that $102,000 salary in mind when UTP reject the furloughs every other district in the area takes. For example, the neighboring local district, Arcadia Unified has something like seven furlough days (click here). Glendale takes six (click here), and Baldwin Park takes seven (click here). Yet the United Teachers of Pasadena which represents teachers in Pasadena won’t take 5 days (click here) to save teacher jobs?
Maybe your NEA bargaining unit should be replaced with a different bargaining agent. They aren’t the only one. Ooops, did I say that?
I personally have had to take furlough days for a few years now, and we saved lots of jobs. Sadly, not all. I spend $500+ monthly for benefits. Hot water still working, btw.
Although there seems to be a dysfunction in UTP salaries that I noticed, don’t bring it up because it runs contrary to the UTP Code of Conduct. LOL.
For added fun, check out the endorsement of Ruben Hueso, which the UTP rescinded after they actually took the time to research him (click here). The same UTP that didn’t respond to my two emails about this situation - a story I sat on out of respect to Hueso and the UTP. I promise you this: next time I hear a rumor attached to the UTP I won’t bother to check out its authenticity. UTP doesn’t care to respond.
Just remember, UTP, we are not stupid, uneducated proles. You cannot feed us propaganda and expect us to just believe you. Treat us with the same respect and dignity you serve to one another. Don’t feed us hyperbole, and don’t feed us rhetoric. We will hand it right back.
Some People Never Learn
You will recall the recent dispute between a Tattler and Sierra Madre School in which children were being solicited for political actions (click here). The situation was pretty obnoxious:
Apparently the "Extra Credit" e-mail from a "class mom" went out to quite a few Sierra Madre Elementary School parents, and offered them some time off from homework and extra points for attending a partisan political rally in favor of these two ballot initiatives.
It was pointed out that this was a big no-no. Apparently the UTP Executive Board Member didn’t get the memo from October 23, 3012 and notify her colleagues and parents:
Ed code prohibits the district from being involved formally and giving the kids extra credit is formal involvement. Please let Ms. Salinas know immediately they can't do this tomorrow w/ the kids.
On Friday they were out passing out a bright pink flyer titled, PUSD Budget: Millions of Dollar$ and No Sense to parents and to children out in front of Marshall Fundamental. I know, because I watched them do it. I also got a flyer, as did an autistic person I know. I wonder what that autistic individual would have thought had I explained that one of the sources of said flyer helped to remove an autistic child from a public school. I am looking at one that my son was given right now, thank you very much.
Even a twelve year old knows propaganda when it’s handed to him.