Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Matawan-Aberdeen Teachers’ Contract

Click here to download the 2004-2007 teachers contract for the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District.

The expired contract between the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District and the Matawan Regional Teachers Association is eerily reminiscent of an old television show. Everything seems so reasonable until you think through all the contract’s ramifications and then it hits you – You have just entered . . . the Twilight Zone.

The contract begins by stating that, as required by law, the school board recognizes the teachers association as the sole representative of the teachers. But the contract then goes a step further. The board is precluded from offering a separate contract to any teacher. If the board wants to recruit a superstar teacher and offer him a signing bonus, they can’t. If the board wants to offer younger teachers the choice of a 401K plan and higher salary in lieu of a defined benefits plan, they can’t. Meanwhile, a teacher has no ability to negotiate a contract on his own behalf even if he could get a better deal from the school district.

The contract then discusses the four step grievance process for any teacher who feels aggrieved

Next comes the teacher’s bill of rights such as the right to have prior written notice and union representation any time the superintendent wishes to discuss a teacher’s unsatisfactory performance.

Then there is the teachers union bill of rights. Yes, even the teachers union has a bill of rights such as free use of school facilities and school equipment and the right to demand that all teachers who are union officers be given reduced work schedules, effectively subsidizing union salaries.

Article VI defines a work day. Elementary teachers are required to work a grueling 6 hours and 45 minutes a day, but this includes a 45-minute lunch break and another 45-minute “preparation” break. A high school teacher’s workday is 18 minutes longer but that’s because the preparation break is 22 minutes longer.

If a teacher is asked to attend a 5-minute meeting during his lunch break, he shall be compensated $10. So, if a supervisor needs to meet with a teacher during the lunch break, he’ll need to get budgetary approval first.

The work year is 187 days but teachers get 10 sick days and 2 personal days with unlimited rollovers for unused days. At 175 days, teachers are almost working half a year. If teachers could endure an 8-hour work day, they would only have to work 30 weeks a year.

Teachers also get two salary increases per year – yes, two salary increases, one to compensate them for inflation and another in consideration of their increased experience. During the first ten years, the combined annual salary increase only runs about 2% but, after a teacher completes his tenth year, his salary begins jumping over 10% a year.

Teachers also receive an extra $9,000 per year for completing a masters degree plus 30 credits even though the added education doesn’t improve student performance according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The teachers union has refused to negotiate a new contract with the board, preferring to go directly to arbitration. What do they want? In the words of Samuel Gompers, they want “more, more, more.” After all, their pension contributions have gone up from 5% to 5.5%. That our teachers already earn higher salaries and more generous benefits than the average local taxpayer doesn’t concern them.

The contract does include full health benefits but does not mention state mandated benefits such as tenure after 3 years and full retirement benefits after 25 years and reaching the age of 60.

Does the contract include any teacher responsibilities? Absolutely. Teachers are required to show up for work and “to help insure the safety of students”. Are they required to teach? Well, the contract does mention “professional and statutory obligations” but even new teachers without tenure can only be removed with “just cause”.

The contract obviously makes reforming a school and reining in costs extremely difficult. So, why use such a contract? Because it is boilerplate. Nearly every school district uses an almost identical contract. You don’t have to worry about legal issues or lawyer fees. You don’t have to worry about protracted fights with the teachers union. In other words, the school board chooses to use this contract because it’s cheap and easy. The fact that such a contract is detrimental to our students is irrelevant.

What to do about it? Simple. Draft a new contract that protects our community and our children. Define performance standards and empower the superintendent to remove any teacher who doesn’t meet such standards.

Restrain salaries to average wage increases plus a salary jump for every five years of experience rather than the current one year of experience. In addition, offer teachers financial incentives for exceeding educational standards and restraining departmental budget increases.

If any of these provisions are contrary to state law, pursue a waiver through the state legislature. If the teachers union chooses to fight, then fight.

Considering that the upcoming annual budget will approach $65 million, I’m certain we can afford the legal fees necessary to ensure our children get a proper education. We’ve banned candy from the school vending machines. We should do the same with an employment contract that is far more hazardous to our children’s well being.
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53 comments:

Truth In Matawan said...

Bravo bravo bravo! This is 100% correct. We must ensure the school board reads, comprehends, and puts your eminently logical suggestions into motion. How bad is it that for all the money we're spending, and all the taxes we're being levied, our performance as a school district is pitiful.

Unfortunately, our own observations of the school board reveal that they are living in a fantasy world where they think things are going well with the school district. How can they be made to wake up and see the situation as it really is?

Aberdeener said...

A major problem is that the board knows the truth but the parents do not. The kids are taking the easiest courses and the teachers are adjusting their exams to meet the standards of the class. So, little Johnny comes home with a B in math because he mastered his multiplication table while his counterpart in Korea is already studying Calculus. All the parents know is that Johnny got a B in math so they assume he's doing well.

I believe the situation has gotten so bad that we'll need to take testing out of the hands of teachers. It shouldn't be this way but I don't see any alternative. Until parents realize how poorly their kids are being taught, they'll never demand the necessary changes.

Reality Test said...

It's so nice that you are an expert on all things. Even so, it's amazing how little you truly understand. Your negativity is astounding!

Aberdeener said...

Reality Test,

I'm honored you read my articles. How would you improve our schools and lower our taxes?

matawan advocate said...

Everyone is a critic, yet offer no solutions to the problems. Thanks Aberdeener, once again you have made documents available to us peons, oops, we mean taxpayers/parents. If this doesn't motivate people....

Truth In Matawan said...

Reality Test, please enlighten us with some of the understanding and positivity you obviously have in abundance!

Seriously, if there's something you know better, why keep it to yourself? Fill us in, if you can!

Anonymous said...

Greed, greed and more greed. Its not about education its about whats in it for me. A shameful school track record at an outrageous costs to taxpayers. This contract must be renegotiated by eliminating outrageous perks that even a fortune 500 company would not provide! If the
union will not negotiate then we must
pick up on the Charter School concept and fire these crooks. People of Matawan/Aberdeen Wake Up!

Anonymous said...

As a resident of this district and an educator in a neighboring school district I was suprised to be directed to this site by a friend.

First of all, let me get this straight, you mention the district not being able to pay a salary bonus to a 'superstar,' teacher and then the rest of the post you complain about how much a teacher works for the pay. Be honest, if that was the policy you would be on this site complaining about it.

Any person who believes that a teacher in this district or any other works the contracted (6 hours, 45 minutes, or 7 hour 3 minute) day is either a liar or is dillusional. Most teachers arrive early, stay late, help with in school programs, and attend back to school nights etc., many of which are non paying activities. Not to mention that most if not all teachers take work home with them, whether it is papers to grade, phone calls to make, paper work to fill out, and/or lesson plans to create. So the just about or just under 7 hour work day, easier extends passed 8 hours.

Why is it such a problem that teachers get a 'prep.' period. To talk about this period as an extention of lunch or a break is ridiculous. Furthermore it just shows that you really do not understand what a teacher does with her/his day. That prep. period is spent working. Those 5 minutes meetings (that are never really just 5 minutes) that you think should come out of a teachers lunch are scheduled during prep periods, when they could be fine tuning a lesson plan, getting grading done, and/or complete the piles of paperwork that teachers are obligated to fill out.

Wow, a teacher gets 10 sick days and 2 personal days. How many vacation days do you get at your job? Yes, teachers get off for the summer, but because of the 'huge,' salaries they are being paid, most of them are working second jobs for the fun of it. How many teachers in this district need to work a second job in the evenings,after teaching your children or during the summer in order to make ends meet?

I also like how you gloss over the fact that most teachers get a 2% raise annually. That is below the raise for private sector jobs. Yes, of course that raise jumps to 10% a year after a teacher completes her/his tenth year. Why should the jump be so high (2% to 10%)? How about because about half of the teachers hired will quit within their first three years. A teacher making it 10 years in the profession more than triples that time, and they deserve the raise. On the same topic, that is her tenth year in the same district. When changing jobs and switching districts the teacher does not automatically start where they left off in their previous district. That has to be negotiated. Although you said that teachers can not negotiate their own contract, that is not enirely true.

The federal government requires a teacher to continue her/his education while in the classroom. On top of this, you have teachers choosing to continue their education in order to better themselves, bring new skills into the classroom, and to advance in the district and you are complaining. What happened to wanting 'superstar,' teachers drawn to your district? They are not born 'super,' they work for it.

The statement that the union chose not to negotiate and went straight to the arbitration is an outright lie. Arbitration started this school year. The contract ended last school year, and they do begin negotiating at the stroke of midnight as the contract expires. This was and continues to be a long drawn out process. Why not use an arbitrator, what is wrong with a fair and unbiased party and opionion being part of this? Unless of course you don't want it to be fair and unbaised.

Of course you think the teachers should pay for their own benefits. On top of that you think they make too much. Furthermore, you do not think they are entitled to raises. When was the last time an employee went into her/his job and demanded less money and less benefits? Doesn't something seem wrong with that picture?

The school board doesn't choose to use this contract because it is cheap and easy. The school board uses this contract because they have negotiated it with the teachers' union. The board doesn't want this contract, they are in a drawn out contract negotiation. Isn't that what this blog thread is about?

The superintendent does have the ability to remove teachers who do not meet standards. They do not have the ability to remove a teacher without 'just cause.' What is 'just cause?' Well to a non tenured teacher, it's anything. There is no protection for a non tenured teacher. While the term 'just cause,' is ambigious, that also makes it easy to apply to any teacher they want removed. No reason needs to be given, only that its with 'just cause.'

It was also stated that teachers in this district teachers should be making the average rate. Well according to New Jersey Education Association-Research Bulletin A00-3/4/6 September 2001 NJ Teacher Salaries and Salary Guides, the average salary was $52,725. That was in 2001. It is now 7 years later.

Next it was stated that salary jumps and raises should be given every 5 years instead of yearly. The day inflation stops rising daily and the cost of goods and services stop increasing, should be the time that raises and salary jumps should be halted. Many of the teachers in the district also live in Matawan and Aberdeen. They're the lucky ones. They get to pay their own salaries.
If you truely believe that the current employment contract is hazardous to your child's well being, slash it and see what kind of teachers your district attracts.

These are professionals that are currently working during a pay freeze. They have not stopped caring for and educating your children even though they are working under a contract that expired almost 8 months ago. The only thing that makes it easier is the knowledge that people like the author of this blog are in the minority in this town. It is the children that make this career so fullfilling.
Maybe the reason the Korean education system is ahead of ours (which was stated in a reply to the original post) is because they treat their teachers with more respect and professionalism than in the United States.

Instead of undermining your child's teacher with blogs and statements like this, get to know your child's teachers, educate yourself about the teachers' contract, join the PTO and/or attend township meetings.

Education is the profession on which all other professions rely.

Anonymous said...

Thank You to the teacher who defends our profession.

Anonymous said...

If Joey Warren is so against teachers, the education system and the building blocks of the school district, he should home school his children, when they are of age to attend school. This would allow for him to raise the testing bar for his own children and keep classroom sizes down, as MARDS can not keep up with the growing classroom size.

Aberdeener said...

To the anonymous poster who took the time to write a lengthy response, I’d like to thank you for your reply. I will try to respond point by point.

1) Why shouldn’t the board have the flexibility to actively recruit teachers by offering them individual contracts? Why should individual teachers not have the right to get the best possible deal for themselves that they can? To me, it’s self-evident they should have these rights. You obviously prefer that everyone be on the same pay scale regardless of ability or performance.
As you mention, a teacher who transfers can negotiate at what level he enters the school district but he cannot negotiate a separate contract.
2) Yes, teachers often have to bring work home with them such as grading papers and exams. Employees in private companies also commonly have to work after-hours and on weekends. But they do that on top of the eight-hour workday. The average American works over 47 hours per week plus commuting.
3) Regarding the daily 45-minute prep time, please remember we are talking about elementary school. When I attended elementary school, my teachers did not have a daily prep period; they had the same class schedule as the students.
4) As you acknowledge, teachers only need to work 175 days a year. Most American workers, both public and private, work at least 225 days a year and usually much more.
5) According to New Jersey State statistics, the median teacher salary in our district during the 2005-2006 school year was over $56,000. If a family had two working parents who were both teachers, their combined income (assuming the median) would be 30% higher than the median family income in Aberdeen. (In the vast majority of families in Aberdeen, both parents work.) That salary doesn’t account for the generous health and pension benefits that essentially don’t exist in the private workplace.
6) Regarding the annual 2% salary increase for teachers with fewer than 10 years of experience, I agree that increase is very modest. I’m surprised you don’t see an annual 10% salary increase as excessive. Plus, these increases are in addition to the annual $9,000 bonus teachers receive for completing their Masters + 30.
Additionally, public school teachers receive higher pay and benefits than private school teachers.
7) I agree teachers have to work to become superstars. Why are you opposed to rewarding such effort through financial incentives for exemplary teachers?
8) The school board and teachers association met for a total of three hours before the teachers declared an impasse. Three hours for a 3-year employment contract doesn’t qualify for serious negotiation.
9) Virtually everyone in the private marketplace is required to contribute towards their own health benefits. Why should teachers be an exception?
10) I have never argued that teachers as a group earn too much. My argument is that salaries are not tied to performance. Are you prepared to argue that every district teacher is excellent and that none should be let go?
11) The board and teachers union are arguing over money. Basically, every other item in this employment contract will remain untouched.
12) I never stated our teachers should only make average wages. I stated salary increases should be restrained to average increases. I also argued for performance bonuses on top of those salary increases. Once again, I believe in rewarding excellence. You believe all teachers should be paid the same, regardless.
13) The five-year salary jump I proposed refers to a salary increase teachers receive on top of the annual increase in pay scale to compensate them for inflation.
14) The school district doesn’t have a single teacher vacancy. I have no doubt that if we were to offer base salaries plus significant bonuses based upon performance, the school district still wouldn’t have a single vacancy.
15) You state that the superintendent does have the ability to remove teachers who don’t meet standards. For the past number of years, our children have scored below average on SAT exams and state proficiency exams. Tell me – during that same time period, how many teachers were removed for not meeting standards.
16) I’m glad you finally mention the children, albeit last. Why are our children performing below average?

As a closing remark, I’m shocked that a teacher would be so strongly opposed to my suggested remedies - that the superintendent be empowered to set and enforce educational standards and that, in place of fixed salaries, teachers should have financial incentives to improve our students’ education and restrain departmental budgets.

I am sorry if you were angered by my tone but when I see above average youngsters performing below average, that’s how I get. As a teacher, I’m sure you share my anger.

Aberdeener said...

It is my understanding that, during this period, the teachers are working under the provisions of the prior contract which entitles them to an annual pay increase based upon years of service. So, the teachers all got pay increases this year, just not as much as they wanted. Additionally, once the new contract is agreed upon, all provisions (including pay increases) will be retroactive.

This is not a pay freeze. This is getting a smaller raise than they wanted.

Truth In Matawan said...

The teacher's response was all too telling: 9 paragraphs defending/justifying their perks and earnings and ignoring the obvious, one sentence about the children they're teaching.

Some observations:
1. The anonymous teacher made no mention--NONE AT ALL--of the district's abysmal state test scores, SAT scores, and student competencies (particularly in math and science) compared not only to students in South Korea but to students in other towns right here in Monmouth County. Why is that? Is it because there is nothing that can be said on the matter? What she fails to realize is that Aberdeener wasn't just complaining about the bloated budget, he was complaining about throwing good money after bad. For all we spend--and we're the #1 and #3 taxed municipalities in the county--we are getting HORRIBLE results. If paying large bonuses to lure superstar teachers, or getting a REAL educator and not a paper-pushing administrator to be Superintendent, if getting the MRTA to see they should be more worried about their students than their perks, and putting a merit-based compensation system in place leads to better scores and better students, and THEN we were spending more money, it would be worth it.

2. If inflation is a legitimate concern--and it should be--then how can anyone ask for a 10% raise with a straight face? Inflation is 3% on average, so while the 2% annual raise is just barely not meeting it, the 10% raises are 3x the inflation rate--a definitive example of teachers grossly profiting from the residents that pay the taxes in their district--not all of which are parents of school age children, either.

3. Why the stonewalling "shows of unity" to protect what are quite clearly inferior teachers. Before you overreact, read: The best teachers should get the best performance based raises. Simple. The adequate teachers should get merely adequate raises. And the worst teachers should be replaced. Yet in the eyes of the teachers union (and unfortunately, the school district), all teachers are equal. Equally good and equally bad. Better teachers make no more money, at the expense of protecting those teachers that don't deserve their jobs. This is pathetic and should be eliminated immediately. Good teachers will see this, bad teachers just want their asses covered.

4. It's 2008. No one, NO ONE, should have any expectation that all their benefits will be handed to them on a silver platter. There should be a serious expectation on the part of the teachers that they will start paying their fair share, LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. People with far more dangerous jobs, people with jobs that require far MORE training (yes, teachers don't have the monopoly on having a job that requires further and ongoing education, despite what they may think), people with jobs that earn much less money, ALL contribute to their health plans. But teachers, remarkably, don't. And we have yet to hear a single, solitary argument from a teacher as to why they feel THEY are entitled by God not to pay one single dime for their benefits. Other than "Don't hate on our benefits, man." Which really isn't a valid argument, is it?

5. How many teachers live in the Matawan/Aberdeen school district that teach elsewhere, like our anonymous poster? How many teachers live in the district but can't get a job, because everyone wants to be teachers for the cushy benefits, hours, months off, and salary? Many. Too many to have jobs for everyone.

What if the Matawan Aberdeen School District made a rule that you have to live in the school district to teach here? Then the teachers would all have to share in the burden of their own grossly inappropriate contract. Do we have enough teachers in the district? I'm thinking yes. The anonymous teacher makes a vague reference to "change the contract to one that makes sense, and see what kind of teachers you'll get." To that we say two things: One, what kind can we get that would be worse than the ones we're overpaying for underperformance right now? And Two, we have the feeling that the good teachers that live in this district, given the chance, will realize that a merit-based system will benefit them in long run. And as for the ones that aren't good teachers, and would be fired under the new system? The ones that are currently stealing paychecks from whatever municipalities they're teaching in, and ruining children's lives to boot? Maybe they'll realize they should be in another profession, before any more lives are irreparably damaged.

Bring on the responses, I'm sure anonymous teacher knows with full conviction that every teacher is a good one--no, a GREAT one--so there mus be none that fit into the above category.

When in reality, their is a top tier, middle tier, and bottom tier of people executing jobs in EVERY profession. Judging by our results here in the Matawan Aberdeen system, our top tier isn't the best to begin with, and it only goes down from there.

But no--it's all anti-teacher hate. It can't be things like accountability, responsibility, and integrity.

I look forward to your well-thought out response.

matawan advocate said...

Teaching is a noble profession. That being said, teachers should pay a share of their health benefits. Our taxes have increased way ahead of inflation. Most in the private sector pay a portion of their health benefits premium along with a co-pay. Asking teachers to pay their fair share is reasonable. Does a municipality ever win in arbitration? Don't think so. That might be the reason no fruitful negotiations took place.

Parents/residents/taxpayers must get involved in order to produce change. Ambivalence maintains a status quo. For teachers to pay their fair share of health benefit preiums is welcoming them into the same situation we all face.

If you don't see any spelling errors in these comments....thanks to a 6th grade dedicated teacher, Miss Gote.

Anonymous said...

"THOSE WHO CAN'T DO, TEACH!"

Give me a break... Maybe these teachers should enter the real workforce and see what it's like.

There should be individual contracts based on performance.

Truth hurts... Bring on REFORM!

Anonymous said...

Most people work overtime to prepare presentations. Imagine telling your boss, "It is my prep time know."

I call my employee for a few minutes and he asks for compensation... what a Joke.

No wonder our children work ethic stinks... Look at their teachers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the anonymous writer who wrote "Most people work overtime to prepare presentations. Imagine telling your boss, "It is my prep time know."
You obviously missed English class during school because the correct word at the end of the sentence shoudl be is NOW and not KNOW.
NOW means at the present time which is an adverb. KNOW means to be cognizant or aware which is a verb. Maybe if you paid more attention and RESPECTED (meaning having esteem for) YOUR teachers, you would not have made such an error.
Being a GOOD teacher takes effort, work and dedication. NOT EVERYONE CAN DO IT and NOT EVERYONE SHOULD! Rather than "bashing" teachers about their salaries and other items in the contract, how about THANKING teachers for being the parent/guardian/therapist/counselor/confidant/psychologist/behavioral interventionist/friend/and an advocate that many students are lacking.
I am sure that working in the private sector is tough but anyone can do that. Can just anyone teach?
Ignorance is bliss for anyone who is not a teacher or doesn't know anyone who is.
ANY DAY YOU WANT TO SWITCH JOBS, LET ME KNOW! I can do your job, can you do mine? I think not!

Anonymous said...

Students are receiving horrible results NOT due to their teachers...they are receiving those results because there is just so much a teacher can do. Talk to the government about making the tests TO THE LEVELS OF THE STUDENTS...not to levels that are unattainable. Once a student leaves school, isn't it parents responsibility to enforce what students are learning and studying in the home? Why isn't that a discussion? Instead of blaming teachers why aren't we trying to create a stronger relationship between the home and school?

Aberdeener said...

Our high school assessment exams are below international standards. I’ve reviewed the New Jersey High School Proficiency Exams (HSPA). The problem isn’t that the tests are too hard. The problem is that they’re too easy and our students still get low scores.

Aberdeener said...

My apologies for the above typo. It's New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) - not exam.

Truth In Matawan said...

We were unaware prior to anonymous' last post that teachers can do any job on the planet in the private sector. That is refreshing to know. If someone in a restaurant is dying of a heart attack, instead of asking "Is there a doctor in the house?", we'll ask "Is there a teacher in the house?". If the pilot of our plane passes out, we won't ask if anyone on board can fly a plane, we'll just ask if there's a teacher on board. If we see a mugging in progress, we'll ask the 911 dispatcher to send a teacher, not a police officer. If we need to put an addition on our building, we won't call an engineer, an architect, and a contractor--we'll call three teachers. If we're having trouble balancing the company books relating to the pension contributions, we won't go to a CPA or a financial advisor, we'll go the some teachers. If our pet is sick, forget the vet, call a teacher. If we need to make some final cuts to our film, can the editor and the director, hire on a couple of teachers. If the windows on our high-rise need cleaning, why pay for professional window-washers? Teachers can get up in that harness just as easily. How about if we need a prescription filled? Can't a teacher hop behind the counter and do just as good a job as a pharmacist would have? If we need someone to teach our children properly, we won't go to their teachers, we'll--oh, wait. What will we do now?

One thing that anonymous pointed out is that (her words): "Being a GOOD teacher takes effort, work and dedication. NOT EVERYONE CAN DO IT and NOT EVERYONE SHOULD!" We heartily agree, and this was the crux of what we (and we believe Aberdeener as well) were saying: not every teacher is a good one, so not every teacher should be compensated as a good one. As someone who apparently feels they are a good teacher, and given your above comments agreeing with us, how can you dispute this point?

The only thing we can think of is that you have friends who are bad teachers, and you'd rather see our children continue to get inferior education so you don't have to see your friend lose their jobs. And that is truly, truly sad.

Almost as sad as the insinuation that our children our stupid and the tests are too hard for them. The tests are PATHETICALLY EASY and perhaps one of the reasons our children aren't doing well is because if their TEACHERS think the tests are difficult, then how can they possibly be expected to teach the material covered on them effectively?

One last point. Anonymous again mentions that teachers are the "parent/guardian/therapist/counselor/ confidant/psychologist/behavioral interventionist/friend/and an advocate that many students are lacking." Hey that's great. So while you're doing all that, who's being the EDUCATOR they're lacking? Just wondering!

Anytime any teacher, anonymous or otherwise, wants to address the ISSUES raised in Aberdeener's posts or my own, please, we're all ears. Or eyes as the case may be, this being a blog.

Anonymous said...

Cheyanne Indian proverb:

"Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins."

I agree there are good and bad workers in every profession, and some people should not be teachers. If you would like to address that issue then you need to find a way that the administration won't protect their friends, no matter how destructive their practices are. Can you do that? I don't know a way.

Merit pay is subjective and if a principal or administrator likes a teacher (friend, niece, neighbor's kid ect)regardless of their performance THEY WILL GET THE GREATEST SALARIES. Honestly, as in the business world, it is all about who you know....not what you know.

You have to define how you would "judge" the teachers performance. Who would judge? One supervisor or a panel? What would the criteria be for an "excellent" teacher?

If you propose to use test scores of students to judge teachers then who would be the teachers that teach the highest preforming population? I am sure that the honors classes would be the most coveted positions. Just how would you decide who would get to teach the children who preform highest on the standardized tests? Would you consider a Special Education teacher to be an inferior teacher b/c their children (who are included in the general testing population)didn't preform as well as the others? Teachers who deal with special needs students are some of the most giving and amazing teachers within our profession.

If this is your solution you are misinformed and truly misguided.

If you find that the students in your town aren't preforming as well as YOU would like then you should become a teacher to change the system.
More power to you, go get your license.

Anonymous said...

To the individual with superb grammar skills:

You can make fun of a typo all you want. The truth was always out: Public school teacher's work ethic is not be looked up to.

Try negotiating your own contracts like they do in a private school - based on results only.

Divide $33m, half the budget, by the amount of students. (Use only the students that do not need special ED.) Private schools will grab that budget in a moment

Anonymous said...

How can you justify that comment? You have an all or nothing approach. Not every teacher is wonderful but the majority of teachers have a work ethic that absolutely should be looked up to.
Why do you hate teachers so much? How are you able to read and write? How are you able to add and subtract? Do you think that you would have had some epiphany at age six or seven that miraculously enabled you to do so? Or was it that teacher with the "bad work ethic" that helped you stumble over the hard words until you were able to read and understand on your own. Unfortunately for you, you have no appreciation for the gift a teacher has given you. You would not have a society worth living in if not for our educators.

Aberdeener said...

Anonymous,

The oldest written version of the “Cheyanne Indian” saying can be found in the Mishnah (the early portion of the Talmud). “Hillel would say . . . Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” (Ethics of the Fathers: Chapter 2, Verse 4)

I am surprised that you focus on the teachers rather than the students. The students should be your first concern and they would benefit from teachers who had a stronger incentive to teach. Our administrators would have a financial incentive to succeed as well and it would be in their best interests to retain and recruit the best teachers. Teachers would also have protection from the state’s labor laws.

As for measuring teacher performance, we measure student progress from year to year so a teacher can potentially earn more money turning a C student into a B student than instructing an A student. In the near future, I plan to suggest a system to measure and reward teacher performance. The system won’t be perfect but it will be vastly better than the “don’t bother” method we practice today.

My primary concern is for our students. I’m sure you feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

The focus should be on the teachers as well as the children. Both groups deserve a voice. It is not an issue of either "help the teachers at the children's expense" or "help the children at the teacher's expense". The parents/taxpayers in your town need to find a middle ground. You are not focusing on all of the parties involved. It is not just the taxpayers and the students that deserve respect it is your teachers as well.

Truth In Matawan said...

Sorry, but are you contending that the union-represented teachers don't have a voice? If that is your assertion, it's a laughable position.

We're in the position we are because the voices of the teachers have rang out loud and "unified", while no such group has emerged to champion either the rights of the children or the rights of the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that the taxpayers and parents in my district appreciate their teachers. Thank God I don't work in Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District.

Anonymous said...

PS. I make $20,000 more a yearin my district on the same step and educational level than your "overpaid" and "underworked" teachers do. AND the majority of the taxpers and community support our teachers. Can't wait to see how your plan works out.

Anonymous said...

By the way, how did any of you opposing the work of teachers become what you are? Did you magically learn on your own how to read, write, speak, present, without YOUR teachers? I think not! I agree with anonymous, thank goodness I don't work in Matawan Aberdeen! You would hate to see my contract in the district I am in as well...and the community fights for us as well! You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
The comment from Aberdeener about who is educating your children while teachers are being everything else: They are teaching as well. If they are your childs "parent/guardian/therapist/counselor/ confidant/psychologist/behavioral interventionist/friend/and an advocate that many students are lacking," Why is it okay for TEACHERS to do YOUR job?

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener, you haven't recently seen any student actually taking the HSPA have you? Try telling a 5th grader who can't read to sit for a few days to take a test...or an 11th grader who just doesn't care just fill in random bubbles have you? Before you judge based on test scores, why don't you give up your job for the day and actually proctor one of these tests??? Then maybe you will appreciate the outcomes a little more....
If you think that the standardized tests are "Pathetically Easy" then you should write to the state and complain to them about their tests being "Pathetically Easy". They will laugh you right out of Trenton...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who isn't a teacher, just needs to put blame on someone...it is easier to put the blame on the person who is with your child 6-7 hours a day? How about working together to make school and home more connected rather than divided?

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener and Truth in Matawan,

Ignorance is Bliss isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Why not move if you are unsatisfied wtih EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District. By the way, willl you be teaching your 3 year old and baby on the way how to read or write? how about spelling their name and address

Truth In Matawan said...

First, to one Anonymous: Thanks for making our point for us. If a fifth grader can't read, isn't that an indictment of every teacher he's had since kindergarten, his elementary school principal, and a system that keeps moving kids along despite they're being woefully unprepared for the next grade? And more importantly, for life ?

Second, to another Anonymous: If we're so ignorant, I ask you, for the third time, to elaborate on, clarify, or outright answer some of our points and questions. Start with this one: Why should inferior teachers be entitled to the same guaranteed pay raises as superior ones?

Third, to yet another Anonymous: My wife, sister, and sister-in-law are all teachers. We have a pretty good handle on what teachers do, how they do it, how they're compensated, and how they SHOULD be compensated. My wife didn't agree with our assertions at first, what with standard teacher defensiveness and "closing the ranks", but after careful consideration and an understanding of the various points, she has come to espouse our philosophies as well.

Fourth, to amazingly yet another Anonymous, we're glad that your district appreciates you--can we surmise that their children are doing better than ours (and their tax rate is lower, as well)? What district do you teach in, so we can do a fair comparison?

Fifth, and finally to still yet another Anonymous, yes, we taught our children to read and perform arithmetic by age 3. And to write, geography, the physical sciences, and to read music by 4. Thanks though for your suggestions!

Still waiting for one single honest teacher to come on here and answer some of the questions or at least clarify their apparent positions that bad teachers deserve their job and even worse deserve the same high rate of pay as good teachers.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the teachers in the Matawan-Aberdeen school system.

Anonymous said...

let it go to arbitration and let an independent party decide what is best for both sides.

Truth In Matawan said...

How come you don't feel sorry for the children in the Matawan-Aberdeen School District?

Thanks for the elaborate response, by the way. Glad to see you're putting your vast educational skills to use in elucidating to us our folly.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the wife, sister and sister-in-law... having to live with a small minded, bitter, and just "plain mean" man. Same goes for the wife of Aberdeener. This thread is getting bored and tiresome. I think the next one should be how doctors are overpaid and even if a patient dies, they still get their pay check. If a patient is misdiagnosed or dies, dock the bastard some money. Or maybe we should write about fire fighters? If they don't save a home from fire/smoke damage or burning down, ridicule them!! What other professions can we shred to pieces and say mean and hurtful things about? What other professionals can we degrade and wish ill upon? Suggestions welcome.

Truth In Matawan said...

"Just plain mean"?

Hahahahahaaaaa!

So now daring to ask any questions of teachers, and asking them to account for themselves in any manner whatsoever, is mean? Oh. the humanity.

By the way, great elaboration of the teachers' positions there! Glad to see there's more to teachers than just whining about keeping the status quo intact at any cost to children and taxpayers.

Oh wait--no there's not. If anyone were to stumble into this thread, they certainly wouldn't think so!

I guess I'm just mystified that for all the education teachers have to go out and get, and all the instructional skills they are thought to possess, that not one single teacher has come on here to defend their position, or answer the question of why inferior teachers should get the same pay and raises as superior teachers. You brought doctors into the equation, well, better doctors make more money that bad doctors. And if a doctor is bad enough, they don't work as doctors anymore. This is true of most professions. This is not true of teachers. Please explain why this should be so.

Anonymous said...

truth in matawan,

if you are such a great teacher with your own children, why don't you change careers and teach others? especially since you know EVERYTHING about being a teacher. try it one day...for the amount of patience you have in your posts towards adults, i doubt you would last very long with children!

Anonymous said...

how did your children do on the standardized tests? did they get a perfect score if the tests are, lets see, how was it put? " pathetically easy?"

Aberdeener said...

To the anonymous poster who earns $20,000 more a year than a comparable teacher in our district - Would you please let me know for which district you work? I have been unable to determine that such a district exists.

Anonymous said...

Truth in matawan and Aberdeener, Will you send your kids to Matawan Aberdeen schools?
Keep your eyes on NY city's public schools because they are implementing similar standards in their schools. Do you know that a NY city teacher has the chance to make $100,000 or more a year? Do you know they offer housing assistance and signing bonuses to their teachers? Do you know they take people who are not teachers and offer to pay for a master's degree and teaching license in order to attract teachers? They have HUGE job fairs all over the country. They have all the incentives you plan to give to the "superior" teachers and yet they can't find qualified teachers willing to work in their schools. Hmmm sounds like your plan is in action in NY, and look how well it is working there.

Anonymous said...

standardized tests
any teacher can make a child pass.
try tests with standards.

Public School Teachers Suck said...

Please god.. Give us School Vouchers.. So I can send my children to private school!!

Abolish the teachers union!!! What good have they done for the students??

Aberdeener said...

Despite the lengthy thread, I've not seen any parents claiming their children are getting a fine education or otherwise. Would any parents like to comment why, in their opinions, our children are performing below average on the standardized exams?

Anonymous said...

hey Aberdeener, I know of a Superintendent job that is open. Since you have all the solutions why don't you take the job.

Anonymous said...

truth in matawan- still no comment on your own child's tests scores.

Truth In Matawan said...

Anonymous--are you seriously asking for a response when this whole thread has been teachers refusing to answer simple questions posed to them? With honesty and introspection? Despite being asked, by Aberdeener and us, to please provide an answer to any of the outlined points, multiple times? And getting NO answers, only whiny responses? You have a lot of chutzpah.

Suffice it to say, our children, whom we taught to read at 3 as previously mentioned and are still in the elementary level have not taken the HSPA yet. However, we will say the teachers they have hat at their MARSD elementary school have not been good--they've been EXCELLENT. Some of the best we've come across in 40 years--if not THE best. Which is why they would absolutely THRIVE under a performance based model.

Lastly, this, taken from the MARSD homepage:
UPDATE ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH UNION

"Since the beginning of negotiations in the Winter of 2007, the Board of Education had proposed a need to curtail the escalating costs of medical insurance coverage for District employees. In prior negotiated agreements with District Administrators and secretarial/clerical employees, the Board of Education and their Associations agreed to an employee contribution toward medical insurance benefits. The amount of the employee contribution ranges from a 1% annual salary contribution for the secretarial/clerical employees to a $1,100. contribution for each administrator in the District. The Board of Education incurs costs for medical insurance in excess of $4.5 million per school year. As a result, the District is always looking for ways to reduce these costs.

The Board of Education originally proposed to the Matawan Regional Teachers Association various alternatives for insurance modifications, including similar contributions toward premiums, changes to the types of medical insurance plans offered, or any other suggestions offered by the Association to reduce the escalating costs on behalf of the Board.

Despite these options, the MRTA has offered no proposal other than to maintain the “status quo” to the current health insurance problem."


In other words, it's okay for the secretaries, the janitors, the custodians, heck, even the ADMINISTRATORS to pay something (even if it's a meager 1%) into their spiraling-out-of-control health insurance costs which are bankrupting the borough and the township--but the teachers union STILL feels that it's unreasonable to ask them to contribute one. measly. penny.

Thanks, teachers!

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener,

Quick question: How did you "review" the HSPA exam? Especially when it is a state exam that is VERY SECURE? As a teacher, we do not see the exam until the specific day of the test (as it divided into three days) and we have to sign out proctor manuals. Also we must count our answer sheets and test booklets during each session? Sounds a little strange to me, that you, NOT a teacher, was able to see it. HHHMMM.....

Aberdeener said...

New Jersey State provides sample exams on their education website under "additional information". You didn't think I was fibbing, did you?

Anonymous said...

I have six children in the district. If the medical is a major reason why these teachers are not siging this contract then shame on them.Niether my husband nor I get free medical from our jobs. Times are very different now and yes teachers should be accountable for the job that they do in the class room. If you can tell me any other job that gives raises just because you show up everyday I would like to apply. I see friends of my children barely getting by. I am not saying that all the teachers in this district are bad. I have been lucky to come across teachers who really care. We all know that not everyone loves their job and gets up every morning and rushes to work.I will give you a example. Up until 5th grade my daughter struggled everyday with keeping up with her class. Her test scores were horrible and doing homework was a nightmare.We would sit and do her homework together and cry because she just didn't get and couldn't tell me why. I thank god for her fifth grade teacher because she was the one who said enough and that something needed to be done.the child study team was brought in and they found she has a learning disablity. She is now a senior at Matawan and has a grade point average of 3.5 even thought she is classified she is mainstreamed. She is also a student athlete. We are now looking into some top division 1 colleges for her. Everyone in every job should be accountable for their performance. Especially when it comes to our childern.
I am sorry for the grammer and the style of writing.