District Teachers Face Agonizing Choices

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Under ordinary conditions, it seems unlikely that one would find a person more supportive of teachers than myself. I come from a family of teachers, I have myself been a teacher at times, and I believe in general teachers are unpaid for the importance of the job that they perform. Most people who suggest that teachers have an easy job and work only nine months, have either never taught themselves or never put a full effort into teaching. I am constantly amazed that teachers have the stamina to teach for eight hours and then go home to grade papers (no easy task) and prepare lesson plans.

I say this because after reading the full comments from the teachers from Casar Chavez Elementary School who also spoke up during public comment on Thursday evening at the school board meeting, I’m not sure I could really disagree with them more. They write:

“First, we do not accept being placed in a position of choosing between salary reductions or seeing colleagues lose their jobs. It is the responsibility of the budget officer, the superintendent and the board to make informed, honest, transparent and responsible decisions.

At the all-district staff meeting held by Superintendent James Hammond on Feb. 11, we were given an ultimatum: Either we agree to a 4 percent permanent salary reduction, before a state budget is even approved, or there will be layoffs this year. We believe there are many more options than just salary reductions or layoffs, and it is incumbent upon the board to ensure that all options are thoroughly investigated.”

I am unsure of where these individuals have been for the past few months, but if they read the newspaper at all during that time they might realize that across the state government employees (of which they are one) are having to make this painful decision across the board.

Yolo county employees have taken voluntary furloughs as the county faces a $22 million deficit for next year, in hopes that their colleagues will not be laid off. State employees represented by SEIU have reached agreement with the Governor to take what amounts to a 5% paycut, which is an improvement over the 10% paycut imposed by the Governor. These furloughs and paycuts are happening across a state that has recently had to cut $15 billion in spending due to the worst economic recession in 70 years.

The same thing is happening in the private sector–employees are being laid off in scores. There has been at least 500,000 and sometimes approaching 600,000 job losses per month. So the fact that the district is giving them a choice as to a paycut or pink slips, is hardly unique or surprising.

The teachers have a choice to make because right now the district is running deficits for the foreseeable future in the $3 million range.

The school board takes no joy in this. In fact, I have spoken recently to just about every member of the board and the reactions I have gotten borders on heartbreak for having to make these decisions. They did not run for school board to lay off teachers. But that is the choice that they now face.

I don’t see many options other than salary reductions or layoffs and I have been over the budget as much as anyone this side of Bruce Colby. But I suspect if you have a counter-proposal the district would be glad to hear it.

“Second, the top four district administrators made an offer to reduce their salaries. This offer is contingent on the Davis Teachers Association’s agreement to teacher salary reductions. It is wrong to pressure the teachers with a misleading public gesture. These administrators have recently negotiated with the board a raise for the 2009-10 school year as well as ongoing yearly increases. These increases add up to as much as 15 percent since October 2006.”

I agree with the teachers that it was a mistake for there to have been any kind of raise for administrators. I think one of the worst decisions made was the decision to give Bruce Colby a 5% raise in December. It set a bad precedence and it looks bad to the public. Unlike last year, I think we had a pretty good idea as to what coming down the pike.

“Third, when asked about the magnitude of the administrators’ raises, Superintendent Hammond expressed that removing these raises ‘would not solve the budget problem.’ The teacher whose position is erased by these raises certainly will have a budget problem to solve. “

On the other hand, they have offset these raises by cutting back on their own support staff, not through layoffs but through attrition. In essence, each of these individuals are having to go without support staff or performing the work of multiple individuals. Again I understand the point the teachers make, I agree with them to some degree, but they are focusing on literally pennies on the dollar here. There could have been no raises, and we would still be focusing on this plan which would require either layoffs or salary cuts. This is largely a distraction from the main issue.

“Fourth, we oppose the plan to build a $10 million high school stadium while there are schools such as Emerson Junior High which, last year, was under consideration for closure due to dilapidated facilities. Additionally, the long-term effects of the stadium financing on the general fund are not clearly delineated, and a clear payment plan has not been developed.”

My understanding is that there are no impact of stadium financing on the general fund. That money comes strictly from facilities money. There was redevelopment money used to finance a portion of this. There was a strong safety issue and liability issue that exists with the stadium in its current conditions. My understanding of the issues with Emerson is that much of the repair and upgrades have to do with being out of date with various codes and can be addressed at a later point. No one believes that there are either safety or liability issues with Emerson.

While I would tend to agree in part that the district has done an exceedingly poor job of explaining this to the public. That it looks bad to be crying poor at the same time you undergo a $10 million renovation of a football field. Nevertheless, much of that public outcry is based on poor understanding of how school financing works and the fact that facilities money and general fund money that would go to instruction are completely separate, money available for facilities upgrades is not available for use in the classroom.

“We believe that salary reductions should be negotiated fairly and honestly, and only after the state budget is approved and allocations to the Davis school district are clear. Additionally, the offer of the top four district administrators should not be contingent on teachers’ agreement to salary reductions.”

To me this represents a lack of understanding of the collective bargaining process. The district cannot unilaterally impose changes to a contract. The changes to the contract such as reduction of salary must be approved by the Davis Teachers’ Association. Therefore to a large degree the ball is in their court on this one.

As DTA President Ingrid Salim said on Thursday, it was her perspective and possibly that of the DTA membership that they would take their chance with 20 layoff notices (by her count, although the district is approving 36.6 FTE position cuts) than taking a salary cut. That is within their right to determine.

The second part of that is that they are demanding the administrators take a cut regardless. That cut is largely symbolic anyway. We are talking about maybe $30,000 or $40,000 in savings against a deficit of over $3 million over the next two years.

I am all for them taking it, but let us not make this out to be bigger than it is.

Unfortunately the district and board are taking a fiscally responsible step of identifying all of the necessary cuts up front and proposing a balanced budget for the three year period.

The really bad news is that this may not be rock bottom. There is increasing belief that the May revised budget from the state will have another deficit in the 11-figure range that will result in more cuts to education funding.

In short, while I sympathize with the position of teachers and all district employees as well as all state employees, I think that there is going to be little choice but to make the tough decision between salary cuts and pay cuts. I also think that the teachers are setting themselves up for deep layoffs in May, deeper than projected right now by not taking a further look at pay cuts.

By all means identify alternative budget cuts. All entities should do that. But if you look at the district budget, you quickly see where the majority of money goes, and it is to teachers.

It is my hope that the teachers work together with the district and board to make this as painless and cooperative a process as possible given the horrible circumstances that we face in this district, in this county, and in this state at this time.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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80 thoughts on “District Teachers Face Agonizing Choices”

  1. Anonymous

    Good points about the county employees and others. I agree with you.although spending on building schools and closing down Valley Oak when money was spend renovating it would upset me if I were a teacher in the district looking at a pay cut. Pay cuts could have been an option to keep Valley Oak running.R

  2. Anonymous

    Where does classified staff stand on the issue of voluntary salary reductions?If the school board is directing that the budget deficit be addressed up front instead of spread out over 3 years, will that mean more teacher cuts?Teachers haven't seen layoffs in this district for a long time. Maybe it would take a round of layoffs that really happen this time before they take things seriously.

  3. NotAUnionFan

    Junk the union and allow teachers to be fired based on performance. Drop all the silly seniority rules. I know of several teachers well past their prime that are a discredit to the calling. The only reason they still have jobs, creating misery for students, is the stupid unions. Balancing the budget wouldn't be hard but for the unions. Dump the dreck and move on…

  4. John Kozol

    There goes the Anti-Working peoples Vanguard of Davis knocking the teachers for not wanting to give back hard fought negotiated gains in salary. If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right. At least the state furloughs are temporary.Teachers, firefighter,city workers, those who support working people, who will you bash next? If this is what the so called progressives are for count me out.

  5. Mike

    …hard fought negotiated gains in salary… ummm… what are you talking about John? Most of these negotiations have been like playing poker with your dog. The unions get what they want all the time. They basically have asked for pay hikes, seniority rules, early retirement etc. and they simply get what they want.It was easy when it was someone else's money. Now that the gravy train has come to a halt, there has to be a reckoning. The whole concept of …public servant… needs to be reexamined and the relationship put back where it belongs.Teachers, Firemen, Policemen and the legions of staffers have jobs to perform on our behalf. But how they are compensated is up to us. If we can't give them what they want, they are free to go…

  6. Unions Are the Probl

    …To me this represents a lack of understanding of the collective bargaining process….Since when did the teachers' union demonstrate much desire to truly collaborate and compromise with respect to the state budget? I feel sorry for the teachers mostly because they have been brainwashed into believing their own marketing campaign; the design of which has always leveraged emotive guilt and fear (that we are hurting the kids) and sympathy for the victim (over-worked and under-paid teachers). These sound bites played out fine when the citizens of this state could find work, but not now when many people have lost their jobs and cannot find work.With 1/3 of the state

  7. Lexicon Artist

    John Kozol aka The Saurus aka The Mitch: …If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right….I completely agree. A union has every right to decide what is in the best interests of its membership and to fight for those interests. What is not true is that the interests of the teachers' unions are equal to the interests of education in general or the public interest. The teachers' unions are special interest groups, just like home builders, farmers, lawyers, etc. Our school board is not elected to support the decisions of the DTA. Our school board's charge is to balance interests in the goal of promoting the best possible education system. It is a mistake to think that a school board decision which is unpopular with the DTA is anti-education (or even anti-labor*). The DTA is not about promoting education; it's about promoting a special interest.* The DJUSD folks who work in the cafeterias, mop the floors, take out the garbage, mow the lawns and so on are obviously …labor…. If the school board errs on the side of one union at the expense of lower-paid workers, is that pro-labor (as Kozol implies)?

  8. teacher

    ParentYou raise good questions but the union membership has got to weigh these factors and decide for themselves what is in their own best interest. As a CTA member in a different district I know that it is really hard to listen to people who aren't working teachers telling teachers what they should do.

  9. Its an uncomfortable

    In reading the letter from the Cesar Chavez teachers very carefully, I believe that Davis teachers do understand how tough it is out there for people who are unemployed. But it's a fact that, if they go the lay off route, the vast majority of them will keep their jobs and they don't want a pay cut. It's a dog eat dog economy right now. Why would we expect the teachers as a group to be any different? It is very clear that they don't like is having it made obvious to all (including their co-workers) that they will be making the choice to lay off people over spreading the burden. They really want the administration to make the decision and force the solution on them.

  10. Anonymous

    One thing is certain–If the Board of Education decides to fire a lot of less experienced teachers so that veteran teachers can all keep their full salaries and benefits, the Board of Education will harming our kids and making education a lower priority than labor peace. The Board needs to buck up and think of the children and let the Davis Teachers Association call them names and have a hissy fit. It's time for the people on this Board to show they have backbones and are willing to do what is right–even if that is not popular with the leaders of the Davis Teachers Association or the veteran teachers at CCE.

  11. wdf

    One thing is certain–If the Board of Education decides to fire a lot of less experienced teachers so that veteran teachers can all keep their full salaries and benefits, the Board of Education will harming our kids and making education a lower priority than labor peace.The Board can only do what it has the power to do. Pay cuts would have to be ratified by the DTA. The Board can't force that. The current board plan tries to spread out the cuts across the district, which includes teacher cuts.Only the DTA has the power to decide if those job cuts should be exchanged for pay cuts instead.These kinds of cuts are going on all over the state because of the bad economy and an unfavorable state budget. The DJUSD board and administrators are not inherently evil or malicious compared to other districts.If the current board plan is bad one, then please suggest workable alternatives. What do we do instead?

  12. Anonymous

    It is time to renegotiate with the Unions, eliminate Tenure and go to a school voucher system. There is a significant amount of tenured instructors that do not teach our students, they may facilitate a classroom but they do not teach. Their salaries should reflect exit exams. Why should the public be forced to send children to schools that do not teach?

  13. Vanguard and teacher

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill.First of all David I do not see you as being anti union as others have attempted to label you. On the contrary you have been very supportive of working people. From the UC Davis Sodexo workers to teachers, to janitors, to state employees you have been very supportive.I think you are not blindly supportive in that you look at the numbers and realize that there has to be a give somewhere. You've asked a good question and that is you have asked for DTA and others to give a good counter proposal and I have yet to see one.It's irony at its finest when a liberal such as yourself – a flaming liberal some would call you – is called a conservative and and anti union person. I guess it goes to show people put a spin on anything and you just can't make everyone happy.Keep up the great work! The Vanguard is THE only place in town or in the county where I really know what's going on.

  14. Don Shor

    If you propose curriculum cuts, you are endorsing layoffs. If the Davis teachers' union prefers layoffs to salary cuts, let them vote on that and inform the district….Some teachers are admitting that many classes, particularly in advanced language, are underattended, and could be taken over at the local community college….Local community colleges, being under Prop 98, are funded from the same pot of money as K-12. UC and CSU are separate. Any funding cuts to K-12 will also apply to community colleges, and community colleges have never had consistent funding from the state government. To suggest that the local schools solve their problems by shunting students over to the community colleges is irresponsible.

  15. Anonymous

    uncomfortableIt depends on seniority and credentialing and possibly some other factors that may be in the contract. For instance math, science and special ed teachers are the hardest to replace so they are usually retained while others with more seniority but credentials in art or social science might get layed off first.

  16. Anonymous

    …Fine, then you give me good justification for just creating Baroque Chamber Music, or keeping Spanish 5 or Mandarin Chinese 5, that is underattended, while they let go Math teachers!…They're letting go of math teachers because they're allowing math class enrollments to go up higher than they were before. 9th and 10th grade math were at 20. If it goes up to 24, or whatever number, then you're not going to need as many math classes. The same math classes will be available to all students; they're just running them at larger sizes.Same is true for K-3 classes.During the state budget development, the CTA actually opposed raising the mandated class sizes as a matter of principal.I find it ironic that DTA doesn't have a problem with this.There is no Mandarin Chinese 5 being offered this year.I as a parent happen to think that Davis schools have a really good product. I would imagine there would be some teacher pride in that fact, but I'm not seeing that at the moment.

  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous said… …I come from a family of teachers…. Are they proud of your blog and the reactionary posters found here.2/23/09 10:28 AMIf they were or are English Composition teachers they've hung the English Department in black, in mourning.

  18. Vanguard girl

    …I come from a family of teachers…. Are they proud of your blog and the reactionary posters found here.2/23/09 10:28 AMIf they were or are English Composition teachers they've hung the English Department in black, in mourning.2/23/09 2:51 PMHe's so prolific, he just needs a good editor. Many of the great writers also had very good editors to help package all that brilliance.David, you ignore these comments. They're just jealous.

  19. excuse me...

    …I think the teacher who stated the District wants to keep business as usual, but put the budget cuts on the backs of the teachers, has nailed it here….Balancing the budget on the backs of teachers? You know, there are other non-teaching employees in the district who are taking cuts on this.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    Different View:Let me be clear, I don't think the teachers are being greedy in any way, shape or form. In my opinion, looking at the numbers, I don't see any reasonable way to balance the budget right now without either layoffs (which probably means attrition rather than actual people laid off) or a pay cut. I think Salim's approach is mostly reasonable. However, i disagreed with the letter to the editor. If you look at the district numbers, you quickly realize where the bulk of the spending is going–it's into the classroom. That is to the credit of the district but it also presents a challenge when these times hit.I am and was critical of the district on the issue of pay increases. I think it was a mistake. I've said so. Many times. I also think the timing of the DHS Football Stadium project was poor. I think the district will regret those two decisions.But unfortunately, the numbers are the numbers and the state budget deal was a very bad one for the schools and the May revise may even be worse.

  21. Anonymous

    The District staff and BOE have done the right thing, they presented the DTA with choices! They said we want you to play an active role in this decision process. Either we can ALL take a pay cut and all the valuable student programs stay or we Layoff teachers and support staff….I really think the teachers should feel that at least they are being listened to and they have made it clear that we should elimante teaching postions that serve low participation courses.Also can we stop this nonsense about the Stadium at DHS, those moneys come from facilities dollars that can not be used for teachers in any way. The stadium (if you listend to the prestation at the BOE meetings) will cut maintence cost and increase revenues because of more events. That will be a direct benefit for the general fund.

  22. DHS student

    DPD, Stadium is a multi sport and activity facility. football will only use it 5 times a year. PE will use it daily, soccer will use it 15-20. Lacrosse 20+. Field Hocky 20+. Track and cross counrt will use it countless times for practice and meets. That does not include youth sports or the juinor high. Can you not call it …that… football. Us Track kids get mad!P.S I support my teachers!

  23. Anonymous

    …Here is a teacher's view – that there is most definitely pork in our schools. So what say you Vanguard readers? Do you consider this teacher's proposal reasonable? Do we need to rethink what …core curricula… needs to be saved and what should go, or should we keep everything intact but advise teachers to take a pay cut?… I know some people feel that offering advanced or specialized classes is …elitist… but consider this- parents who can afford to do so will pay for their children to take music lessons or even attend private schools, and those children whose parents cannot afford to will lose out. Making these courses available to all children in a public school is the least elitist thing we can do. But I do not think that our amazing, hard working teachers should have to take a pay cut to pay for them. I know this will be unpopular but I really believe that it's up to the parents who can to donate to organizations such as the DSF. It would be nice if there was enough money from the state to cover everything, but that's never going to happen so it's up to parents to make up the rest. And yes, I am a parent with kids in the schools and yes, I contributed last year and yes, I will do so again this year and no, I am not wealthy. But I value and am willing to pay for a top quality education.

  24. Anonymous

    Can't the Board pass a second interim budget and later offer the DTA a contract that includes a pay cut?…Because if you may not have certain teachers for the following year (pink slipping) because of budget issues, then you have to inform them by March 15. It is a reasonable job courtesy so that the employee can look for alternative work (if it's there)….We pink-slipped a hundred teachers last year and then retained them. What the Board needs to do is allocate as much money as it has for teacher salaries and benefits for the 2009-2010 school year by March 15, no matter what the DTA's position is. Starting July 1st, the Board of Education can then negotiate with the teachers' union how many teachers will have jobs. If the average salary package is reduced by 2.5%, then all of them will and the pink-slipped teachers will come back. If the average is kept the same, then the pink-slipped teachers will be s.o.l. The responsibility of the Board remains–If the priority is providing the best educational opportunity for the children in this district, the Board will offer a contract that includes a 2.5% pay cut, and the individual teachers will have to decide whether they want to accept that or quit. The Board should not budge–they have an obligation to the kids, not the union.

  25. Anonymous

    Times are tough – very few wage earners will get out of this without giving up somenthing. Davis schools rely heavily on state money so something has to give. I do not like the idea of asking teachers to pit their positions against other teacher positions. The Administration and the Board need to come up with the Plan and let the teachers vote on a couple of alternatives.

  26. Anonymous

    …The Administration and the Board need to come up with the Plan and let the teachers vote on a couple of alternatives….Those alternatives do not have to include increasing class size or dismissing any newer teachers. The teachers publicly expressed opinions seems to be–…We demand this! We demand that!… The teachers are not in a position to demand. The Board is not in a position to cave.

  27. Anonymous

    …The extras DHS is offering such as Chemistry in the Community, Zoology/Botany, Anatomy/Physiology, Calculus BC, AP Statistic, Science Fiction English, American Literature and American Literature with Honors, and all the language classes that are level 5 and 6 are cream….Really, DJUSD Teacher. You would consider American Literature an …extra?… The rest, sure, but American Literature? That is part of the English core curriculum, is it not?

  28. jimmy hoffa

    There seems to be some misunderstanding of what will happen when the current contract expires. The current contract remains in place until a long process that ultimately ends with the district being able to impose a contract and the teachers being free to strike. But before that happens there are negotiations that reach impasse, seection of mediators, mediation, and then the mediators report. When this occured in Fairfield in 2001 it took almost a year to play out and resulted in a strike that tore the community apart.The district can't say oh your contract expired today and here is the new deal. Its not how the law works so many of the comments on what the district should do when the contract expires are not realistic. What is realistic is that the district must notify teachers on March 15 if they are at risk of not returning next year and then again on May 15 if they are still at risk. These decisions will be based on the costs of the current contract and assume that it will be continued until the next contract is negotiated at some future date.

  29. Save Emerson

    No one believes that there are either safety or liability issues with Emerson.you could have fooled me! That was the rationale for closing Emerson in the first place! You were there DPD! you marched to keep Emerson open! Their excuse for doing so was that Emerson was falling into disrepair. You didn't let the district get away with it. Remember?

  30. Save Emerson

    My understanding is that there are no impact of stadium financing on the general fund. That money comes strictly from facilities money. There was redevelopment money used to finance a portion of this. There was a strong safety issue and liability issue that exists with the stadium in its current conditions. My understanding of the issues with Emerson is that much of the repair and upgrades have to do with being out of date with various codes and can be addressed at a later point. No one believes that there are either safety or liability issues with Emerson.While I would tend to agree in part that the district has done an exceedingly poor job of explaining this to the public. That it looks bad to be crying poor at the same time you undergo a $10 million renovation of a football field. Nevertheless, much of that public outcry is based on poor understanding of how school financing works and the fact that facilities money and general fund money that would go to instruction are completely separate, money available for facilities upgrades is not available for use in the classroom.I'm sorry, but the stated rationale for closing emerson was because Emerson was in disrepair, and it would have been too expensive to maintain. Now the district flip-flops and says to get their fancy stadium upgrade that repairing Emerson isn't so necessary right now afterall. I wish they'd quit changing the story to suit what they want at any given moment. And yes, it is sad to be crying poor while the district is upgrading the stadium, even if the funding sources are different. The issue is priorities. When the district puts the stadium upgrade on the agenda, it is saying …this is high on my priorities list… it is not just about the revenue stream differences.

  31. Anonymous

    …I know this will be unpopular but I really believe that it's up to the parents who can to donate to organizations such as the DSF. It would be nice if there was enough money from the state to cover everything, but that's never going to happen so it's up to parents to make up the rest….DSF did a really wonderful thing last year, but honestly, I have doubts that they could really duplicate what they did. Economy is bad, people don't have as much money available to donate.Right now I don't think DSF can do long term fundraising to cover a structural deficit. And I think we're done with parcel taxes for a little while.The best that can be done to avoid laying off teachers is a salary rollback. But I don't sense that the teachers are really there on thet issue.

  32. David M. Greenwald

    Save Emerson:Did you read the report on the repairs needed from Emerson and did you watch the DJUSD meeting in December when they decided to do DHS over Emerson? That's the basis of my statement. What was said last spring was pre-study.

  33. Anonymous

    I think the teachers should go on strike! Let the community deal with it's own children while the teachers get some traction on their own situation. The school teachers of Davis cannot even afford to live in the community they teach. They take money out of their pockets for classroom expenses and are seen working the Farmers' Market Carousel and a variety of car washes to benefit their students. Now the school district administration wants them to dip into their pockets yet again with the promise of no layoffs (which seems unlikely with each passing day). The teachers are dubious of the Board because of past fiscal mismanagement (may I remind you that at one point not too long ago DJUSD had 3 superintendents on the payroll). All of it is a bad situation within the current economic climate. If you truly want a great school district then you must take care of the teachers first.

  34. Anonymous

    …I think the teachers should go on strike! Let the community deal with it's own children while the teachers get some traction on their own situation. The school teachers of Davis cannot even afford to live in the community they teach….Then what is a fair price for teachers for the available money?Some economic projections indicate that this economic downturn will affect the state budget for the next 3-5 years.Young teachers do live in Davis, but it definitely has to be a 2-income situation to make it work. But that's also the case for many other non-teacher Davis residents.So many other districts are dealing with the same thing that the Davis school district is dealing with. You could probably count on one hand the number of districts that will weather this downturn completely intact.The problem if the teachers raise too much of a stink is that they may lose some support of community members who appreciated their teachers and programs so much that they raised money last spring and passed Measure W. It can look like the teachers are ungrateful.Also, to what extent can teachers go out and say that they are being unfairly victimized in this economy which has affected so many other people in worse ways?It is looking like we all will have to readjust our standard of living.

  35. Anonymous

    …I support the teacher's union on this one, and their right to vote. I don't see this union as excessively greedy or overbearing, such as perhaps the firefighter's union. I think the teacher who stated the District wants to keep business as usual, but put the budget cuts on the backs of the teachers, has nailed it here….I take issue with this. I think the DTA leadership has done a poor job of communicating school board issues to its members. It would seem as if they don't want to be the messenger of bad news (how bad the budget situation is).I watch these school board meetings regularly and most of the issues raised in the letter have been discussed in mind-numbing detail. Minutes are posted online and video archives of the meeting are also there.Many people love to criticize the issue of the moment in the district, but few demonstrate that they have taken the time to follow the discussion as David Greenwald has.To me there was a huge disconnect between the Chavez teachers and what the DTA reps knew (they were present at these meetings). Those Chavez teachers had not been following the school board discussions that closely; that was Greenwald's point. The DTA execs could have sat down with those teachers to bring them up to speed on the discussion so that they could speak in a more informed context.It's one thing to communicate this stuff to the broad public who is more enamored of Oscar gossip than school policy. The Enterprise has it's limitations. The Vanguard does a much better job, but still misses some nuances. But if your own collective bargaining unit doesn't fill you in, so that you can make a more informed decision, there's a problem there.Why should it have to fall to David Greenwald to provide more accessible information than your own union reps?

  36. Anonymous

    Thanks David for another great article. By the way, did the paid SEIU president and reps take a pay cut? I'll bet not. They just keep on taking their share out of the workers check and the taxpayers pocket. Maybe you should compare firefighter salaries to real workers, the teachers of our children.

  37. David M. Greenwald

    I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I disappointed that people who claim to be pro-union and pro-union would rather whine and complaint about this blog than defend unions on here. I cannot control who posts here. A bunch of right wingers post on the California Progress report and liberals are nowhere to be seen. So stop complaining and make good arguments.

  38. curious Davis parent

    …There goes the Anti-Working peoples Vanguard of Davis knocking the teachers for not wanting to give back hard fought negotiated gains in salary. If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right….How would I be …anti-working peoples… if I wanted to see my kid’s 2nd year elementary teacher and all teachers in the district keep their jobs in this bad economy by seeing everyone take a pay cut?Isn’t it better to be employed than unemployed?How does a union demonstrate worker solidarity and support if it is willing to give up it’s youngest/newest members in an economy where they’re not very likely to find jobs for a while?How would the teachers look if the classified staff and administrators took pay cuts, but the teachersIf teachers ask for a salary increase when money is available, under what conditions would/should they accept a pay cut?Are they expecting DSF to raise money to save their jobs this time?Are they waiting for better news with the May revise?All of these seem to be obvious, straightforward questions that a union should have answers for.

  39. Its an uncomfortable decision

    In reading the letter from the Cesar Chavez teachers very carefully, I believe that Davis teachers do understand how tough it is out there for people who are unemployed. But it’s a fact that, if they go the lay off route, the vast majority of them will keep their jobs and they don’t want a pay cut. It’s a dog eat dog economy right now. Why would we expect the teachers as a group to be any different? It is very clear that they don’t like is having it made obvious to all (including their co-workers) that they will be making the choice to lay off people over spreading the burden. They really want the administration to make the decision and force the solution on them.

  40. Anonymous

    Good points about the county employees and others. I agree with you.although spending on building schools and closing down Valley Oak when money was spend renovating it would upset me if I were a teacher in the district looking at a pay cut. Pay cuts could have been an option to keep Valley Oak running.R

  41. Anonymous

    Where does classified staff stand on the issue of voluntary salary reductions?If the school board is directing that the budget deficit be addressed up front instead of spread out over 3 years, will that mean more teacher cuts?Teachers haven’t seen layoffs in this district for a long time. Maybe it would take a round of layoffs that really happen this time before they take things seriously.

  42. NotAUnionFan

    Junk the union and allow teachers to be fired based on performance. Drop all the silly seniority rules. I know of several teachers well past their prime that are a discredit to the calling. The only reason they still have jobs, creating misery for students, is the stupid unions. Balancing the budget wouldn’t be hard but for the unions. Dump the dreck and move on…

  43. John Kozol

    There goes the Anti-Working peoples Vanguard of Davis knocking the teachers for not wanting to give back hard fought negotiated gains in salary. If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right. At least the state furloughs are temporary.Teachers, firefighter,city workers, those who support working people, who will you bash next? If this is what the so called progressives are for count me out.

  44. Mike

    …hard fought negotiated gains in salary… ummm… what are you talking about John? Most of these negotiations have been like playing poker with your dog. The unions get what they want all the time. They basically have asked for pay hikes, seniority rules, early retirement etc. and they simply get what they want.It was easy when it was someone else’s money. Now that the gravy train has come to a halt, there has to be a reckoning. The whole concept of …public servant… needs to be reexamined and the relationship put back where it belongs.Teachers, Firemen, Policemen and the legions of staffers have jobs to perform on our behalf. But how they are compensated is up to us. If we can’t give them what they want, they are free to go…

  45. Unions Are the Problem

    …To me this represents a lack of understanding of the collective bargaining process….Since when did the teachers’ union demonstrate much desire to truly collaborate and compromise with respect to the state budget? I feel sorry for the teachers mostly because they have been brainwashed into believing their own marketing campaign; the design of which has always leveraged emotive guilt and fear (that we are hurting the kids) and sympathy for the victim (over-worked and under-paid teachers). These sound bites played out fine when the citizens of this state could find work, but not now when many people have lost their jobs and cannot find work.With 1/3 of the state

  46. David M. Greenwald

    I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I disappointed that people who claim to be pro-union and pro-union would rather whine and complaint about this blog than defend unions on here. I cannot control who posts here. A bunch of right wingers post on the California Progress report and liberals are nowhere to be seen. So stop complaining and make good arguments.

  47. Lexicon Artist

    John Kozol aka The Saurus aka The Mitch: …If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right….I completely agree. A union has every right to decide what is in the best interests of its membership and to fight for those interests. What is not true is that the interests of the teachers’ unions are equal to the interests of education in general or the public interest. The teachers’ unions are special interest groups, just like home builders, farmers, lawyers, etc. Our school board is not elected to support the decisions of the DTA. Our school board’s charge is to balance interests in the goal of promoting the best possible education system. It is a mistake to think that a school board decision which is unpopular with the DTA is anti-education (or even anti-labor*). The DTA is not about promoting education; it’s about promoting a special interest.* The DJUSD folks who work in the cafeterias, mop the floors, take out the garbage, mow the lawns and so on are obviously …labor…. If the school board errs on the side of one union at the expense of lower-paid workers, is that pro-labor (as Kozol implies)?

  48. curious Davis parent

    …There goes the Anti-Working peoples Vanguard of Davis knocking the teachers for not wanting to give back hard fought negotiated gains in salary. If the teachers want to make the choice that there should be layoffs instead of permanent paycuts that is their right….How would I be …anti-working peoples… if I wanted to see my kid’s 2nd year elementary teacher and all teachers in the district keep their jobs in this bad economy by seeing everyone take a pay cut?Isn’t it better to be employed than unemployed?How does a union demonstrate worker solidarity and support if it is willing to give up it’s youngest/newest members in an economy where they’re not very likely to find jobs for a while?How would the teachers look if the classified staff and administrators took pay cuts, but the teachersIf teachers ask for a salary increase when money is available, under what conditions would/should they accept a pay cut?Are they expecting DSF to raise money to save their jobs this time?Are they waiting for better news with the May revise?All of these seem to be obvious, straightforward questions that a union should have answers for.

  49. teacher

    ParentYou raise good questions but the union membership has got to weigh these factors and decide for themselves what is in their own best interest. As a CTA member in a different district I know that it is really hard to listen to people who aren’t working teachers telling teachers what they should do.

  50. My View

    The fact of the matter is that the union is made up of more teachers who have been on the job a long time than newer hires. The long-time teachers outnumber the new hires. Since seniority rules, so does majority rule. Most long time teachers would rather keep their pay and see newer teachers fired, than give up any pay. This is just a fact.I can understand why teachers do not want to give up any of their salary, which is hardly stellar for the hard work they do. Especially in the face of administrators having been given a raise. That was an abomination, and created huge trust issues. And that is what a lot of this comes down to – a lack of trust on the teachers part that the administration is giving them the straight story about the budget.Another fact is that the administration’s job would be a whole lot easier if teachers would just take a pay cut. The airline stewardi and pilots did that one time – took a pay cut – only to find out shortly thereafter management was living high off the hog.I would like to give teachers a crack at telling us where they think the fat is, where the administration can save the money needed to balance the budget. Let’s hear it from insiders in the know…Some teachers are admitting that many classes, particularly in advanced language, are underattended, and could be taken over at the local community college. I think we have to start asking ourselves what sort of …core curricula… do we need to support at the expense of everything else? So far, citizens seem to think everything needs to be saved, no matter how peripheral and nonessential. Fine, if you want to continue in that vain, then class sizes will have to go up and teachers will have to be laid off to save Spanish 5, which is probably available already at the local community college.How many of our school programs are really essential?

  51. Its an uncomfortable decision

    So, can the district cut personnel by cutting specific course offerings? Or will those teachers end up teaching courses out of their area of expertise because of seniority when they bump a teacher from another department?

  52. Anonymous

    …with elite music programs,…Elite? Are you talking about the Lake Wobegon effect, where all the kids are above average? These are classes that are stuff more than 70 students into band and orchestra.Those teachers are worth two for those classes.If there are so many kids in those classes, it’s hard to make a convincing case that they’re really elite.

  53. Anonymous

    As a teacher who can’t afford to buy in Davis I would welcome a price decline in housing over a wage cut. Still, you are correct about the effect the schools have on the price of housing in Davis. The article in the Enterprise about the family that paid $100,000 more for less space to move to Davis from Dixon so their kids could go to better schools is anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon.I’m just not sure how rapidly school cuts will translate into price declines in home prices. Of course Davis prices have held up better than anywhere else in the region so if the schools decline we might get a rapid decline in home prices.

  54. David M. Greenwald

    …Here is a teacher’s view – that there is most definitely pork in our schools. So what say you Vanguard readers? Do you consider this teacher’s proposal reasonable? Do we need to rethink what …core curricula… needs to be saved and what should go, or should we keep everything intact but advise teachers to take a pay cut?…The voters have really already spoken on this issue, they voted to keep foreign language, music, art, etc. in the curriculum. That to me sends a pretty strong message that the voters do not want that cut out.

  55. Anonymous

    …The Board can only do what it has the power to do. Pay cuts would have to be ratified by the DTA. The Board can’t force that….wtf, I never said …force…. It’s a negotiation, but because of the finances, all the cards are against the union now.The DTA contract expires this year, June 30. The teachers can bargain from the position that they don’t want a pay cut. The Board should start from the premise that increasing class sizes and cutting programs violates the Board’s duty to give Davis students the best educational opportunity, and therefore the Board must cut salaries of teachers and other employees in order to balance the budget. As I said above, the Board needs to buck up and think of the children and let the Davis Teachers Association call them names and have a hissy fit. It’s time for the people on this Board to show they have backbones and are willing to do what is right–even if that is not popular with the leaders of the Davis Teachers Association or the veteran teachers at CCE. If some teachers would rather quit than work for 97.5% of their current pay, then let those go to work in other districts where they think life is much better.

  56. Anonymous

    …If some teachers would rather quit than work for 97.5% of their current pay, then let those go to work in other districts where they think life is much better….Most districts in California are considering cutting teachers’ salaries from 1-5%. The ones which aren’t are firing, not hiring. Increasing class size is a horrible idea, if the reason is to keep teacher pay high. California teachers have the highest salaries of any state, averaging $64,424.California’s pupil-teacher ratio, 20.9-to-1 is the 3rd worst in the country and way above the 15.5 U.S. average.In achievement, California’s student test scores rank below the nation’s average in reading and math at fourth- and eighth-grade levels.

  57. Anonymous

    …They have until March 15 to pass the second interim budget with a positive certification….Why is that important with regard to negotiating a new contract with the DTA after June 30? Can’t the Board pass a second interim budget and later offer the DTA a contract that includes a pay cut?

  58. wdf

    …They have until March 15 to pass the second interim budget with a positive certification….Why is that important with regard to negotiating a new contract with the DTA after June 30? Can’t the Board pass a second interim budget and later offer the DTA a contract that includes a pay cut?Because if you may not have certain teachers for the following year (pink slipping) because of budget issues, then you have to inform them by March 15.It is a reasonable job courtesy so that the employee can look for alternative work (if it’s there).

  59. different view

    I support the teacher’s union on this one, and their right to vote. I don’t see this union as excessively greedy or overbearing, such as perhaps the firefighter’s union. I think the teacher who stated the District wants to keep business as usual, but put the budget cuts on the backs of the teachers, has nailed it here. There is no reason to be apologizing for Hammond and the district taking pay raises and building football stadiums in the face of budget cuts. It’s not just a perception thing. For a district that basically grovelled in front of the Davis populace for more money, just several short months ago, they should be very politically attuned to the budget process right now. Cut out remaining waste, and for gods sake, forgo administrative pay raises. Defer the football stadium. Those seem like obvious decisions. DPD, you come across as too apologetic for the district these days.

  60. wdf

    It was clear, prior to January 2008, that DJUSD would be facing a serious deficit, and yet the DTA pushed for the raise that was eventually approved by the school board in that month.Many of the teachers who were pink slipped last March actually supported the new contract. A couple of teachers that I chatted with who supported the contract with raises had no idea of the magnitude of the deficit that the district would be facing (although they knew there would be …some cuts…). With hindsight, I doubt that as many teachers would have been supportive if they had known that their very jobs would be threatened. So I tend to agree with the above statement that the DTA may not do an adequate job of communicating the full situation to its members so that they can make an informed decision.

  61. wdf

    There is no reason to be apologizing for Hammond and the district taking pay raises and building football stadiums in the face of budget cuts. It’s not just a perception thing. For a district that basically grovelled in front of the Davis populace for more money, just several short months ago, they should be very politically attuned to the budget process right now. Cut out remaining waste, and for gods sake, forgo administrative pay raises. Defer the football stadium.Re: the stadium projectI would invite you to check out the minutes of the Feb. 5 meeting, agenda item V. a. …Facilities project update…. Thirteen members of the public spoke out in favor of the stadium project during public comment. Not one person got up and spoke against it.The presentation on financing that took place before public comment was fairly clear that the financing was available and solid.In spite of all of the positive presentation, Susan Lovenberg still voted against the stadium project. I just wonder what the result would have been if more individuals had taken the time to be engaged in the process and showed up, possibly to speak against the project.It seems silly to see criticism from individuals who didn’t take the time to engage when it really mattered.

  62. Anonymous

    Everyone should take a pay cut. Bottom line, the top earners should be the first to get cut. If you cut the salaries by 10% of everyone in Yolo County (including teachers,police, firement, administrators,Danielle Foster ETC ETC ETC) our budget problems will be solved. REMEMBER, it’s the ones that are making more than 100 thousand that should be cut first. People making less than that should not have to pay for the disparities in income.

  63. My View

    …It seems silly to see criticism from individuals who didn’t take the time to engage when it really mattered….Ordinarily, I would agree with you. But folks have spoken up before, to no avail. They are tired of a School Board that doesn’t listen, is arrogant, and does what it wants no matter what. I spoke up at a School Board meeting, only to be denigrated by the School Board. I got fed up – now I just vote no on every parcel tax, for all the good it does. People in this town are so naive, because so many believe all the fear mongering the School Board/District dissiminates. Then they are so-o-o-o suprised when administrators get raises and a stadium becomes the center of economic attention in the middle of a serious recession. And you wonder why teachers don’t trust the School Board/District??? I don’t blame them!

  64. Anonymous

    …Ordinarily, I would agree with you. But folks have spoken up before, to no avail. They are tired of a School Board that doesn’t listen, is arrogant, and does what it wants no matter what. I spoke up at a School Board meeting, only to be denigrated by the School Board….You give up too easily.

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