The author of the blog was recently laid off from Dartmouth. He writes:
“Teachers are going to have a choice. They are going to either have to accept dramatic paycuts and reductions in benefits, or they are going to have to go on strike. THE MONEY JUST IS NOT GOING TO EXIST WITH WHICH TO PAY THEM AT CURRENT LEVELS. This is not an ideological position: it’s a monetary reality.”
He then writes that people cannot see past ideology.
“It is entirely fascinating how folks cannot see past the ideological, however, when trying to come to grips with reality.”
I see this all the time. I get accused of being a Republican on here at times because I believe that we cannot afford to pay city workers, firefighters, and various others what we want to pay them, what we are paying them, or maybe even what we SHOULD be paying them.
Three weeks ago I castigated the Republicans in the California Legislature because they did not get it. They needed to drop their ideology and accept the fact that we needed to balance the budget and the numbers weren’t there to do it without raising taxes. They weren’t. The Republican leadership understood that. The rank-and-file did not get the message. Nor did they get the message that if we did not pass a budget,(as bad a budget as it was from both a liberal and a conservative perspective), the outcome would be disastrous. As bad as things are now, they would have been far far worse.
This week we have to do the same to the DTA. When I criticize the DTA, I am not bashing teachers. I come from a family of teachers, I have been a teacher. I believe teachers ought to make as much as we currently pay firefighters. That is my ideological pre-disposition, but the world has changed. We do not have the money to pay those kinds of salaries. We may never have that kind of money.
We can no longer operate in the world today as though last year’s rules applied.
All across the state, employees unions are having to face a grim reality and make a bad choice. The choice is between jobs and salaries. Every week in this country more than half a million people are losing their jobs. Most of those people are not going to get another job for some time. That means that everyone needs to engage in a joint sacrifice.
And many have done that. State workers who make one half to a third of what teachers are making in Davis have accepted a 5% paycut which is in lieu of ten to twenty thousand of their co-workers losing their jobs. In the county of Yolo, workers have taken voluntary paycuts for a year hoping to forestall almost inevitable job losses. Even police in Sacramento have taken a paycut rather than see 70 of their colleagues lose their job.
On Tuesday night, the Davis Joint Unified School District vote to send out layoff notices to over 50 employees including nearly 40 teachers. At the meeting, several of the board members pleaded with the DTA to consider a paycut.
Did Board Members want to do this? No. Many of them were on the verge of tears. And it was genuine angst. Richard Harris who has at times put his foot in his mouth, told me a few weeks ago very somberly, “Where are these poor folks going to get a job if they lose theirs now?” And when? There are no jobs to be had. These people are looking at long unemployment. In another town my sistfer is one of them, her cobra payment just to have health insurance is ridiculous. Why would people do this when they have a choice?
I keep hearing, unless you are a teacher facing a paycut, you cannot understand it. Teachers are understandably concerned about their retirement. The district believes they can probably find a way around that problem if that is the hang up.
President Obama has called on this nation to sacrifice, engage in a joint sacrifice in order to get this country upon its feet. For those who criticized the prior administration for failing to make such as call when the the US was attacked on 9/11, it is music to our ear. But we must heed the call.
The call means we must give up a little so that our colleagues and brothers and sisters can get a paycheck and afford their health insurance.
The district estimates a four percent paycut is what is needed to assure that there is no layoffs. It may end up being less. That is less than state workers are taking. That is less than county workers are taking. And that is much less than the 100% paycut their unfortunate colleagues have to take.
But guess what folks, this is not just about teachers, it is about schools. It is about children. Each teacher cut is a one more class they do not offer. Not only is there a shared sacrifice needed to help their fellow teachers, but there is one needed to assure the kids get the best possible education. We are lucky in Davis for the most part, but these kids get one shot at education. This is their youth. And if we have to make cuts, they do not get this time back.
We all need to step up. But most of all we need to the leadership of the DTA to step up and explain to their colleagues who do not seem to understand that this is real. There are no other cuts to be made.
I got a call yesterday asking why the administrators are not being laid off. I said the reason is that they did their layoffs last year. The district cut one of its two associate superintendent positions last year. That means there is no associate superintendent of education. They have not filled their business services director position. They have not filled their risk manager position. They have cut various assistants in the administrative office. They have people there doing the work of several. They have made their cuts. And they have also stepped up to the table to offer to take a double cut to what the rank-and-file take.
The DTA has insisted that we can make cuts in other areas. They have done this at school board meetings. They did this on the radio with me. They have not to my knowledge shown up with concrete numbers. Instead we get questions on Tuesday as to why the school district is taking out a $10 million loan (they are not) and when they should spend down their reserve.
Let’s lay out the math here once again. The state requires a district to maintain a fund balance of 3% of its general fund in case of emergencies. How much is 3%? About half of the payroll for one month. Most districts average about 10% reserves. Right now the plan calls for this one to maintain a 6% reserve. How much is 6%? About one month’s worth of payroll.
A reserve is one-time money. That means once they spend it and do not replenish it through future savings it is gone. So yes, we could spend down that reserve, but it is not going to take us very far, and it is certainly not going to keep the district from laying off the employees.
The district made the difficult choice that it needed to deal with its structural deficit. They did so in order to best and most fiscally responsibly weather this storm. The fiscal expert they brought in, agrees with that approach. Who could not agree with that approach?
Again, it is a horrible thing to do. Board members were on the verge of tears when tjhey were being forced to lay off teachers and staff, but they did it. They had no other choice. The public has stepped up twice now to help the district. They did last year when they gave $1.7 million to the Davis Schools Foundation that enable no teachers to be fired last year. They did it again when they overwhelmingly voted for Measure W to give the district another $2.5. million That money is now preventing us from engaging in 114 layoffs rather than 50. There is nothing else the public can, will, or should be asked to do. Notice that the district is not asking. Neither really is the Davis Schools Foundation. There is nothing more that can be done.
But the amazing thing is that there is one group in this community that can step up, can sacrifice, can make this happen. It will cost them 4% of their salary to do it, but they can make sure none of their colleagues lose their job.
I am not anti-education. I think anyone who knows what I have done can attest to that. I am not anti-worker. I am simply laying out the truth. The reality of this situation. There is not enough money to pay every teacher what they are currently contracted to make. The choice is now theirs–they can take a paycut and save their colleagues or they can watch their youngest and most energetic teachers lose their jobs.
Cathy Haskell and Ingrid Salim, I like you a lot. I think you are good people. I am asking you on behalf of this community to stand up and do the right thing. Lay it on the line to your membership and ask them to take one for their team. This community will be forever in your debt if you do that.
—David M. Greenwald reporting