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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parity and Greeley's District 6 Negotiations

While drinking my morning tea I overheard an interesting conversation about District 6 Union negotiations for their teachers contract. Since I have not yet seen a simple contract negotiation in the education sector I thought I would do some background work on the statistics behind local educational practices before wading in openly with an opinion.

I thought it interesting, if I am using the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Data site correctly, that between 2000 to 2009 the education and communications consumer price index inflated by 3.4 percent. Meanwhile the general all goods consumer price index rose 3.8 percent over the same period of time.

Now, just for a quick disclaimer, in all my glorious education my least favorite class was statistics. I wrote sadistics at the top of each paper I handed in. This was my passive protest against the learning curve (I did this course in my forties) for statistical calculations using hand-held computers. Ultimately, I ended up with an A in the class. However the grade does not reflect my surrender to learning a lot. More so my passion for passing the class at all costs and memorizing tons of data on many sleepless nights. At some point I just decided I would memorize the concepts and hire a staffer to do the meticulous work for me for the rest of my working eternity.

With that said, I think there is a relationship to the two data points above that could suggest that the cost of educating America has not risen at the same rate that the general prices, we as consumers pay for our basket of household goods. Note the word COULD. I didn't say it DOES.

Surely the teacher's union has control over these statistics (they got one of those whiz-bang math geeks that slept through stats class--no doubt) and is making them useful in the current negotiations. However I wonder whether, if true, in the big picture scheme of things, what the average teacher makes is about .4 of a percent (in thousands) behind the increase in prices which effect our daily lives? I always assumed the union would be chasing parity all along and only this year would be making a concession.

As a quick aside, in 2009 it takes about 49,676. to have the same purchasing power as 40,000. in 2000. There is this neat little inflation calculator built into the BLS site. You have to scroll down to the bottom to find it. As for proving my assumption above I need to find out when the last teacher's contract was formally negotiated. Someone said they have been negotiating every year--if true, no wonder everyone is burnt out on this process.

While the quick calculation above may be an indicator I am not ready to jump there yet. Hopefully someone, more statistically affirmed, can help out. I think it does mean that somehow, somewhere, the cost of education has been held down comparatively to the consumer price index for all goods. Whether or not the savings have been harvested from labor will take some more research I suspect.

Joy. More statistics.

Comments :

4 comments to “Parity and Greeley's District 6 Negotiations”

mowdy5gs said...

Whats becomes difficult to understans is why we do not hold teachers in higher reguards and why the leadership of the district makes so much more than the grunts? The teachers touch [no pun] and shape our children and there future daily. Is that not worth the highest educated, highest paid trustworty people? In this brave new world education is the way, yet we are recused to give it all to those who are designated that task.

Some will yell thats what private is there for but one knows this is not the option for all. Publicly funded education must be all that "it" can be or suffer the obvious consequnce of losing our future. No longer are our children afforded the option of mediocracy. The last 8 have proved how weak minded the stupid can be and how coruption has consequnce for us all.

Jane Paudaux from Greeley, Colorado said...

Well I think teachers lost their status because mass education weeds out the high end and the low end on labor. Couple that with a parental mindset that what was "good enough for them is good enough for their kid" and educational value doesn't increase very much. In the meantime society is dynamic and the need for better skills and complex reasoning skill keeps demanding more. Instead teachers get pushed to just deliver those "readin' writin' and multiplication tables'. It is kind of like applying free market principles to a public good. That doesn't ever work. You get a high end that can afford the private options and every one else gets milquetoast paid for by what taxpayers are willing to spend on the masses. Supply will never meet demand. It can't even meet American industry expectations very well anymore. What you get left is mediocre product except for a few exceptional "born to teach" people. And the "born teachers" often are taken out by management political egos who need to meet their spreadsheet goals. And management for years were business trained people not educators (I think this has been changing somewhat). When kids become widgets we have a big problem in our communities. I just think the entire system needs to be revamped and that the public, the critics, the management, board of directors, and the funders have all become a part of the problem rather than the solution by entrenching in the idea of "don't change" just make up a new test for someone. Accountability is a political facade for the whole bad joke.

mowdy5gs said...

I agree the system is broken. To what extent is obvious. What is not obvious is the how to fix such a scene where evryone is breaking there neck to watch the debauckle that is the accident.

Again I ask why must there be the gap that remains between management and teachers? Are teachers not better suited to recognize the problems that they in fact face every day in teaching and disipline? Its funny how capitalism is so good yet in certain venues as this one seems to be it corupts to the enth degree. So much so that politics is played with childrens future and that my friend is not OK. Not in the least. To watch a district as 6 does, whine, bicker, abstain, self loath is surely the kettle about to be painted black. Year after year they are stagmired within there own ranks where maximum value is reserved for the superintendents salary and maybe her cronys. I see no good reason the new supe deserves her salary and her predissessor, [the one who left for cali] GOD. Good luck explaining that one...

Jane Paudaux from Greeley, Colorado said...

I don't know the basis for the salary calculations and it may vary district by district. Other than parity with the other districts. There may be a strong component related to how many people the job role is accountable for (has to manage). If you take the superintendent for example and they have two thousand employees to oversee compared to the average teacher who has about 32 kids with 2 parents each to manage that might be one factor. Then there is budgeting--the handling of the funding and the distribution of the funds. The district management also is responsible for obtaining grant funding in some cases. Although I have seen teachers bring in outside grant funding too. Then there is asset management (teachers are an asset to the school district) and public relations requirments for the top level management in the school district. Someone basically has to be accountable for following the tangle of State and Federal regulations. Teachers only need to understand the regulations that directly effect their classroon. School management has to spend longer in school to get their appropriate credentials and thus invest more time and money into their positions. Although with that said Teachers have onerous reporting requirements and paperwork obligations outside of what can reasonably be done in the prep periods--especially those that teach special education. Teachers also have a huge responsibility all day long for the safety of those kids. But if a teacher screws up the management is responsible for the teacher.

So basically some formula based on those responsibilities accounts for the inequities you are troubled by and I still don't know exactly what that is--maybe someone else reading has a better explanation.

One thing for sure, no one is paid for the stress on the job. If they were these would be some of the highest paid positions on the planet and only the cream of the crop or the politically elite would hold them.

I am watching the negotiations for the first time here. I've seen it done well and seen it done ugly elsewhere. So far I am not impressed by the accountability of management in Greeley for doing their jobs and keeping the politics out of it. Management is employed by the Board of Directors. We, the citizens, elect the Board from the surrounding areas. Often that can mean people who don't have a clue what they are doing get seated and then they are at the end of the manipulated fingers of their lead employee (the superintendent). I've read some minutes and that is a powerful possibility in Greeley. Whenever a check and balance on a democratic system gets a power shift going inside of it and a single or handful of people control all the power--the system gets sick. Really sick. Just my thoughts of course.

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