Little shift in teacher salary hikes

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Star-Ledger Staff

With New Jersey’s public schools soon to open, teacher contract talks are so far seeing little shift in salary increases, but they are yielding some cost savings around health benefits, according to the state’s school boards association.

In about 80 contracts settled since January, salary increases are averaging about 4.57 percent, a little less than the 4.61 percent average last year, according to the association. Still, including contracts previously settled, the average increase for 2008-09 is so far roughly the same as last year’s.

But the association’s annual back-to-school report said more than 80 percent of the new pacts have provisions that reduce the public’s cost for teacher health benefits, from less expensive plans to requiring teachers contribute toward their premiums.

Among the latest contracts with cost-cutting moves were Kingwood and Tewksbury in Hunterdon County, Washington Township in Morris, and Newton in Sussex, according to the association.

In Newton’s new contract, salary increases average less than 4.4 percent over three years, and new hires will only be offered managed care plans while deductibles will rise in the traditional plans.

The estimates are sure to change, as more than 125 contracts are still outstanding going into the school year, a pretty typical number for the end of summer.

The New Jersey Education Association, the statewide teachers union, downplayed the salary averages or other contract developments with so many talks unresolved. “It’s a little too early to tell what the trends are,” said spokesman Steve Wollmer.

Of the contracts talks under way, neither side reported any impasses that are likely to lead to disruptions in the start of school. The state’s last teacher strike was in North Warren Regional in 2003.

But some are getting testy, including in the state-run Paterson schools where talks have been going on for nine months and are now in their third session with a state mediator. The union’s leadership said the district has proposed no salary increases, along with a longer school year and further givebacks in benefits.

“It is the worst proposal I have ever gotten from management: very, very severe and very, very anti-union,” said Peter Tirri, president of the 3,900-member Paterson Education Association. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

  1. P.J.:

    An interesting article about journalist Stanley Kurtz’s experience in spelunking through the recently-released records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, founded by Bill Ayers, and chaired by Barack Obama, can be found at http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/08/obama_campaign_confronts_wgn_r.html

    The reason I’m bringing it to your attention is the point raised in the following comment left by a reader of the article:

    “Missing from the comments so far is any discussion of what Stanley Kurtz talked about finding in his search of the archives. One item he mentioned concerned an organization that applied for money to fund a program promoting the celebration of the Juneteenth holiday. Apparently Juneteenth is an event that began in 1865 to mark the end of slavery. This request was approved and funds were provided from the Annenberg money. Another request for money from an organization dedicated to improving math skills of its participants was turned down. According to Dr. Kurtz many other academically oriented applications were also rejected. This information was taken directly from documents in the archive. Now I don’t have a problem with people celebrating and remembering their cultural heritage but if your goal is to improve academic performance it seems funding programs to improve math skills would be far more important. It is also apparent that Senator Obama was instrumental in determining which requests for grants were accepted and which were rejected. His priorities in this example do little to inspire confidence in his message about hope for a better future.”

    You would think that the Chicago Annenberg Challenge would leap at the chance to fund projects designed to improve the math skills of public school children. Unfortunatlely, to read the above comment is to conclude that Bill Ayers and his ilk only assume roles in an education-related organization if they think it will be an easy mark to pilfer money to fund their radical political priorities.

    Fast forward to this year, and we learn, upon reading this blog, that Bill Ayers was recently elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers.

    Surely the AERA knew what it was getting in electing Bill Ayers to such a position. Since Ayers was “elected”, there must be a majority of people in that organization who share his radical outlook, which as we now know, does not coincide with the best interests of public school children.

    The official State of New Jersey Education websites have links to only two national education-related organizations, namely: Bill Ayers’ American Educational Research Association (AERA), and Assistant Superintendent Botsford’s Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

    Guilt by association?

    Not necessarily, but readers of this blog are also aware of the radical positions held and tactics used by the ASCD to advance their agenda, which seems to have very little to do with improved educational outcomes, and much more to do with social engineering. Unless I’m shown otherwise, I will lump CAC, AERA, and ASCD together as radical political organizations masquerading in education-related clothing.

  2. Another commenter to the same article remarked about the onslaught of Obama supporters attacking the messenger (Kurtz), and threw out this fact:

    “If they hated Kurtz, then just imagine how much they hate Phillip Berg, the Philadelphia attorney who is a Hillary backer who has filed a motion in federal court to stop Obama’s campaign based on false birth certificates that show a Hawaiian born Obama but he was actually born in Kenya? This guy has JUST done this action. This is no Fred Phelps either…this guy was a Philadelphia states attorney and head of the Democratic party in Montgomery country PA.”

    This piqued my interest because, just this morning, I had learned of a rumor that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S., specifically in Indonesia. I checked Wikipedia, which states that he was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaiii, and (until now) forgot about the rumor.

  3. its about time the teachers face the same reality as the private sector. Contribute to your health care premiums like the rest of the taxpayers..

  4. I don’t contribute, in fact I get dental and drugs too.
    Point is not everyone in the private sector Contributes.

    If the teachers union bullies the BOE into giving benifits that’s our problem not the teachers.
    GOOD for them. NOT so good for us.
    But I guess that’s what unions are all about.
    Join the union and get a LOUD voice.

  5. 5:58- I don’t know why you don’t think that we contribute at all to our healthcare premiums. I do, and I am a teacher.

  6. 828. wasnt that the reason that your teachers union strong-armed the BOE and threatened a strike the last time? You have the premium plan and were asked to contribute.. then the union thugs refused to write college letters of recomendation for seniors @ RHS thus forcing the BOE to cave into your demands. Perhaps a bare bones HMO would be sufficient, and the ability to contribute for the ‘cadillac of plans’ now enjoyed by the teachers

  7. 6:53 am wrote ‘But I guess that’s what unions are all about.
    Join the union and get a LOUD voice.’
    ASK the United Auto Workers how that loud voice has been silenced..along with the 100,000’s of thousands of former union workers now earning their keep at McDonalds. Its only a matter of time before the public employee unions lose their ability to strong-arm the various municipalities. If there is no ‘give’, then there will be more students in fewer classrooms, and more productivity required. Choose a strike? fine with me. there are plenty of replacement workers eager to sign up for a smaller payscale/benefit package than the generous ones enjoyed by current teachers. At some point there is always a ‘tipping point’. Not everyone in town is flush with cash, and as such, there will be more attention paid to these things than in the past. If you read the posts here about other Village workers stating there are fewer employees in their respective departments, that clearly shows that the budgeted funds will be shared by fewer workers. Period. Get big pay raises? generous benefits? The money has to come from somewhere and most of the taxpayers in town are not going to be opening their checkbooks voluntarily for big tax increases. Through attrition, jobs have been cut as dept heads adhere to their budjets. Workers should be thankful it is accomplished in this manner rather than layoffs. Privatization of certain jobs, along with regionalization, or sharing with other towns is the future.The reality is, whether it is local, county, state, or federal government, the taxpayers who feel the economic pinch are unwilling to see further spending and waste unless there is a perceived benefit. We are now feeling the financial hangover from the leftover excesses of fools like Alan Greenspan who during his tenure pumped the economy full of cheap money. This charade began during the Clinton adminstration, and he successfully made a graceful exit and dumped the problem onto others laps…the same way he ignored the terrorism threats/acts during his term and we have paid a terrible price for his inactions..and governence by ‘polls’. thats what happens when you do what you do to make people like you rather than act as a real leader and make tough decisions.

  8. 8:34-
    No, that is not why they had a job action. It was mostly due to the fact that the board wanted to only offer new hires the HMO option, I believe. I am not sure, as I wasn’t a village teacher at the time, and still am not. I teach in another Bergen district.
    I do not have the “cadillac” of health plans, I have a PPO and I do contribute to it, as well as my dental plan. MOney certainly comes out of my paycheck towards it.
    I think that the general public is quite misinformed about what teachers get.

  9. 9:58. NOTHING comes out of a ridgewood teachers paycheck for the best plan money can buy. that is why they threatened to strike. Not sure what town you teach in…

  10. The comments from Peter Tirri (Paterson Education Association) say it all. He claims this “is the worst proposal I have ever gotten from management: very, very severe and very, very anti-union.”

    Hey Peter…it’s not about the unions. It’s about our kids!!!

    We should be focused on providing the best education we can for our children, with FAIR teacher’s compensation and fiscal responsibility. A compounded salary increase of 4.5% every year is ridiculous. Other jobs don’t receive guaranteed 4.5% increased every year, why should teacher’s get it, regardless of their performance. In Ridgewood, the average teacher’s compensation (based on hourly rate of total compensation) places him or her in the top 30% of the most highly compensated village residents.

    I applaud the trend toward requiring teachers to pay a portions of their benefits premium. Everyone else has to do this. Benefits costs take a huge chunk out of the average person’s compensation, particularly if you are self employed. Why should teachers be any different, at considerable expense to the taxpayers? It is about time we started to see municipalities make some headway in negotiations with the NJEA. Keep it coming.

  11. yes the nea has turned teaching into a low grade third rate job for lazy flunkies I pity the good teachers who actualy care about educating the kids

  12. yes school is about kids not teachers

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