Thursday, September 05, 2019

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't--Teacher Vilified in NY Daily News for Working Too Much

You know, you can't win. I'm forever reading about how lazy I am, how easy my job is, and how it's a walk in the park to stand around and have big fun with 34 teenagers in a trailer. On the other hand, if you work too much, you make too much money, and then you get dragged over the coals for that as well.

I gotta say, this piece caught my eye. The headline suggests outrage that a teacher managed to pull in 78K of per session. If you look more closely it also includes back pay, which evidently is also to be condemned. This teacher somehow did 1100 hours in addition to his teaching schedule.

A copy of Singh’s schedule for the 2018-19 school year reviewed by The News showed him teaching three out of eight periods a day, with the others devoted to scheduling, overseeing lunch, and coordinating coverage for missing teachers, as well as leading “senior activities” and a prep period.

Based on this, DN calls him a "part-time teacher." It's not clear whether or not the writer is aware that teachers do five classes a day, not eight. By that definition, I'm a part-time teacher too, since I teach four classes out of eight. To get this plum assignment, all I have to do is be UFT chapter leader of the largest school in Queens, the most overcrowded in the city. Doing this in addition to teaching four classes of teenagers is a walk in the park, and I have no doubt the reporter could do it in his sleep.

I was sorely disappointed to see this quote:

“I never see him staying with kids” after school, one teacher said.

It's not only that the guy is a programmer, and that this particular job does not entail staying with kids. It's not only that programmers do long hours, and that this often entails extra hours. It's not only that people ought to, you know, be paid for their work. It's also that it's disappointing to see UFT members trashing one another in the press. It's particularly egregious when their arguments have no merit.

Hey, if someone commits an atrocity, I don't expect everyone to get up and applaud. It's quite different to complain that someone whose job does not entail staying with kids doesn't stay with kids. This person doesn't even give a name.

Let's look at what's really wrong here, if something is wrong. That looks like a lot of per-session hours. Did this person really need them? If not, there is indeed fault. I'd lay it at the feet of administrators, whose job it is to post these hours and select someone to take them. In fact, it's on someone like me, the chapter leader and "part-time teacher," to make sure that postings go up and candidates are chosen according to contractual regulations.

It's disappointing to see something so misleading in the paper, aimed at instigating anger toward teachers. I can't really speculate on how much this teacher's efforts were needed or not. However, it's administrators who decide how to allot per-session hours. It's on chapter leaders, people like me, to make sure that they are posted and everyone gets a chance to apply.

Personally, I don't seek extra hours. I already lack sufficient hours in the day to do what I want. However, I worked for over twenty years as an adjunct professor. I didn't want to live in a tree, and it's tough to make ends meet. 

It's on members to speak up if they aren't being considered. I've found times when jobs were given to members without rotations, and I've corrected them when I could. Sometimes members will not complain, and will specifically instruct me not to complain either. I can't do much about that. The truth is I have no idea what's going on here, and it's disappointing that most people who read this article will think they do.

Finally, how does this teacher make 130K when UFT salary maxes out around 10K less than that?

There's more here than meets the eye. At the very least, there's more than reached the eye of the reporter, whose job entails, you know, reporting.
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