Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The district might "respectfully" decline

Teachers in Canon-McMillan School District are banging the drum again, seeking to pressure the district into offering dozens of the more senior educators an early retirement incentive package. The issue has been a matter of bitter dispute for more than a year, and while I am not privy to all the facts and by no means consider myself an expert on education finance, I'm inclined to believe the district is correct in proceeding very cautiously on the issue. About 30 teachers showed up at the district school board's budget workshop Monday, all of them draped with signs saying, "I will retire on June 11, 2008, if offered a respectful retirement incentive." My first reaction was ... well, I can't tell you my first reaction, because it involves words not permitted on O-R blogs. My second reaction was: Hey, if you're tired of making 50 grand or more a year and having a three-month summer vacation, don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out. Go to work pumping gas or handing out carts at Wal-Mart. You folks are not owed an early out. If it's in the best interest of the district, sure. But is it? The teachers contend that the district can save money by getting rid of their higher salaries and hiring entry-level teachers to replace them. On its face, that may be true. But what level of buyout is required for them to feel "respected?" And what's the total cost of paying off people who are no longer going to provide any benefit to the district or its children? Also, if these teachers are relatively close to retirement, why not let them retire naturally over the next few years and then replace them with the lower-paid new instructors? Board Vice President Kathy Smith noted that the district has to consider the long-term cost, both financially and in quality of instruction. She pointed to a bill working its way through the state Legislature that would significantly increase the level of teacher pensions. "I would be just another huge unfunded mandate," she said. As for quality of instruction, I'm pretty sure that a mass exodus of the district's most experienced teachers will not improve the education the students are receiving. Is it a benefit to replace someone with 30 years of experience with a person who just a year earlier was a college student? At McGuffey many years ago, I had a lot of very good teachers - people like Jim Carroll, Frank Nelan and Gus Mantalis - but I also had some who couldn't teach an Eskimo how to make ice. And most of the latter were the newer, younger teachers. I am in no way anti-teacher. I have many friends and acquaintances who are educators, and I greatly appreciate what they do for our children, often with a lack of support from parents who should be their partners in education. But there seems to be some sort of feeling among the Canon-McMillan teachers that they are entitled to a golden parachute to help them float into retirement. The school board should not be swayed by the pressure tactics. They, as always, should simply do what's best for the kids.



Blogger Brant said...

Here's an update of the Canon-Mac teachers' bid to win approval of an early retirement incentive package. The school board has concluded that while a short-term savings would be possible, the long-term economic effect on the district outweighs the initial gain. Bottom line: The board's not interested. Guess the teachers will just have to work until their normal retirement ages. Oh, the humanity!

May 7, 2008 at 3:47 PM  

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