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Why Teachers are Walking Out?

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Dan had already emailed a notice of this outstanding article that is one of the best descriptions of our profession. 

https://sethnichols.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/why-teachers-are-walking-out/ 

Excerpt: For the last ten years, I’ve been a covert operative in Women’s World, a.k.a. Public School.  I am not a typical elementary teacher.  I am male.   And I am often confounded at what I have seen my coworkers silently acquiesce to, happily playing along, fueled only by the sense of the purpose they work from.  I am not surprised that teachers in many states have had walkouts.  I am surprised that they waited so long to start.

Obviously, I’m sympathetic to my colleagues.  I’m also sympathetic to garbage collectors, Haitian farmers, and CPS caseworkers.  In comparison, our job might be considered a breeze for the pay, with its dreamy holiday schedule and all.

Let’s not go down that rabbit hole, though, because the walkouts aren’t really ultimately about “pay,” the face usually presented.

Women are done being taken advantage of.

There are about 100+ comments! Dan and I offered our comments on the topic we talk about, the corrupted 403(b). This article is the best explanation of why nobody talks about the 403b plan and explains why so many of our colleagues don't know that they are being screwed by the nice 403b annuity salesperson. Teachers "silently acquiesce" to the aggressive sales gimmicks. 

But I slightly disagree with the premise that it's mostly a gender issue. I have no surveys or data to back up my disagreement except for news reports where nurses are frequently striking somewhere in the country over the years.  As the author noted, FINALLY teachers are striking all over the country too. Nurses which is also a female profession and in my opinion are more likely to stand up for their rights than public school teachers. I have one tiny anecdotal piece of evidence, my school nurse. She was tough and never took crap from anybody! 

Teachers complain vociferously about everything but they are less likely to DO SOMETHING about it. Hopefully, for this honorable profession which does so much good for society and the country, might start DOING SOMETHING! 

Have a great day,

Steve

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Now THIS is original thinking and blogging. I was captivated by it and the comments. (Disclosure: I didn't get through them all.)

I see a positive trend picking up steam that is way overdue thanks to Dan for starting this site and the frequent contributors here who relentlessly post and cheer us on.

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Nothing new here, I've been there and felt all of that. My wife and I stare at each other at times and wonder how we managed being in the  teaching profession for 30 years!! I don't think bringing gender into this article was necessary as I see these things happening to all teachers regardless of their gender . Maybe its an issue because there are more female teachers than male teachers?  What I don't like and what I am seeing more of is people going directly into administration or with little  real time spent in the classroom to get more money and  to get away from the stresses of being a teacher. I don't exactly blame them the way things are but a whole new tier of administative positions are being created and we are ending up with too much of the wrong thing. . The money should be going to the teachers and not to the ever growing educational bureaucracy.

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This is the single best story I have seen on this topic. As Steve, points out, it really helps explain, without even mentioned the plan, why the K-12 403(b) largely stinks. As MoeMoney mentions, there is much original thinking in this story. - Dan 

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And safety is a big issue now on top of everything else. I read some state instituted an instant 100,000 dollar payout if a teacher gets rifled or gunned while at work.

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This site won't let me use the word  S_E _X   or S_ H_0-T. It always stops me after the letter S. is that normal?

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On 5/31/2018 at 1:10 PM, MoeMoney said:

I see a positive trend picking up steam

I guess you can count me as a pessimist and perhaps unrealistic.

Yes, I see these strikes as improving the situation, but more than that I see squandered opportunity. The thing about "winning" a strike is that it also eliminates any leverage and energy you had leading up to the strike. You aren't going to be back at the negotiation table for a while, so you better make sure you actually won something real.

I may be mistaken, but what did the teachers in West Virginia get? Most notably they got a 5% raise after being severely underpaid (even by US standards) and no guarantee that the government will maintain the new pay rates in inflation adjusted terms.

Perhaps there wasn't enough unity, but I'd argue passionately for shutting the whole thing down for as long as it takes until teachers are paid in line with their societal importance. Maybe they think 5% above the near bottom meets that goal? Maybe they knew they couldn't sustain a lasting strike? I'm not sure, but I struggle to find cause for celebration in the outcome.

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8 hours ago, EdLaFave said:

I guess you can count me as a pessimist and perhaps unrealistic.

Yes, I see these strikes as improving the situation, but more than that I see squandered opportunity. The thing about "winning" a strike is that it also eliminates any leverage and energy you had leading up to the strike. You aren't going to be back at the negotiation table for a while, so you better make sure you actually won something real.

I may be mistaken, but what did the teachers in West Virginia get? Most notably they got a 5% raise after being severely underpaid (even by US standards) and no guarantee that the government will maintain the new pay rates in inflation adjusted terms.

Perhaps there wasn't enough unity, but I'd argue passionately for shutting the whole thing down for as long as it takes until teachers are paid in line with their societal importance. Maybe they think 5% above the near bottom meets that goal? Maybe they knew they couldn't sustain a lasting strike? I'm not sure, but I struggle to find cause for celebration in the outcome.

ED

The  somewhat elitist educational community is partly to blame . Even in our community, taxpaying citizens see the school district as arrogant and big spenders and disrespectful to the folks who end up paying the taxes.  Our school system tried to put forth a  proposal for aTaj Mahal like new high school at a cost of 100 million dollars. It was stopped by local taxpayers and rightfully so. A lesser cost school will do just fine. I don't blame the teachers, but the powers that be in education don't seem to care about the impact their spending has on ordinary taxpayers.  This is the part of education I don't respect. The elitist ivory tower administrators who like to spend too much.

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I’m not ready to call any school board members or administrators that I’ve met “elite”. In my experience, they couldn’t be more ordinary. I’ve certainly met “elites” who have a sense of superiority (my congressperson is one), but I personally haven’t seen that in education.

My post isn’t interested in blame, I just caution anybody who supports teachers against feeling like something has been won. I believe these minor concessions will be followed with years of neglect, especially if people are feeling satisfied with the concessions. 

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I read somewhere and it was a scholarly article that if 50% of the administrative bureaucracy in education could be eliminated (and it probably could be eliminated), every teacher in the USA would get an instant 20,000 dollar raise. I believe it.

I also wonder what the NEA is doing with all that money it collects from teachers.

Note: The article was not  talking about principals, and other essential administrative people. It was  talking about  the positions not even remotely needed to operate  a school system.

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My comment about seeing a positive trend was referring to the articulation and publication of the author's perspective. It was straight-forward and not a theme that is commonly written about. As Steve and Dan wrote in their comments, the 403b is merely one (huge) example of inequality in the teaching profession. They have articulated, published, highlighted and pushed forward with it (big understatement). That was the start of a positive trend in outing the wrongs. 

Seth introduced a dialogue in a way that beckons responding too. Much like we responded to the inequality of the 403b as compared to the 401k.  

This was a fresh blog post that stirred up much emotion. I hope to see a trend of other's doing the same which can lead to changes, even if it's decades down the road.

 

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4 hours ago, MoeMoney said:

My comment about seeing a positive trend was referring to the articulation and publication of the author's perspective. It was straight-forward and not a theme that is commonly written about. As Steve and Dan wrote in their comments, the 403b is merely one (huge) example of inequality in the teaching profession. They have articulated, published, highlighted and pushed forward with it (big understatement). That was the start of a positive trend in outing the wrongs. 

Seth introduced a dialogue in a way that beckons responding too. Much like we responded to the inequality of the 403b as compared to the 401k.  

This was a fresh blog post that stirred up much emotion. I hope to see a trend of other's doing the same which can lead to changes, even if it's decades down the road.

 

We need to post our feelings about the corrupted 403(b) on other websites and blogs too. Reform in education is not just going to happen here or at Seth's blog but by using as many social media outlets as possible and keep discussing the 403(b) and how that is an example of once again teachers are taken advantage of. Once they realized that they have been ex ploited by the nice salespeople because they can collect a commission, all hell will break loose and reform will happen. 

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15 minutes ago, sschullo said:

by using as many social media outlets as possible

I don't believe this is fundamentally a publicity/awareness issues. Even if most educators aren't aware, I've seen too many not care once they're made aware. I don't think any amount of publicity is going to solve a problem when the people directly affected aren't advocating for themselves. Oddly enough, I think the question is, how do you make people care about their own exploìtation. I think all of this would end the moment educators did something about it, the external forces keeping this in place are extremely weak and would fold if there was even a moderate amount of resistance.

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Financial Independence is becoming a "thing". It will continue to catch on and gather the attention of mass media eventually. Consumers can shun away from it or not, exposure will pick up though, to the concept. Choose FI is a blog and podcast that is being featured today, in fact, on NBC out of Richmond. The 403b fees have its own podcast and blog post.

Kale used to be a garnish on veggie and sandwich platters. Food is ed by mass media (albeit advertising) for its virtues and then we are at least aware of it. True, we don't all take action on consuming it, but it is a start. Kale eventually made its way into smoothies, and potato chip bags.  

My point being, if folks can become aware of considering the costs of regularly consumed products (403b plans) they might be spurred on to take action. Or at least, we can hope one or two more will....

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Hi Ed and Moe,

Dan and Scott have noted many times that the NY Times article did make changes in getting classroom teachers aware that they are getting shafted by not only the sales force but their unions and district silent complicity too. I just don't see it partly because I have no access to the connections that teachers who have benefited from the articles. 

I am glad you brought up FI Moe. A friend from my LAUSD advisory committee and I registered for the CampFI that will be meeting in my neighborhood in August. Its already sold out! I am going to get ideas of how this group organized itself and how they choose their leaders. It's only a couple of years old and they are making a dent in how people view their lives. Authors JL Collins of "The Simple Path to Wealth" and Vicky Robbins of "Your Money or Your Life" (I read them both and wrote reviews on Amazon) and Mr. Money Mustache are their rock stars. We need a few rock stars. FI movement has a powerful part reality and part fantasy that public classroom teachers do not have, and that's the idea that we can be financially independent of the gruesome day job at ages 30-35 and do what whatever they want. That's a powerful strategy that has worked well for MMM and beginning to affect the FI movement too. Because of our lower wages, we cannot retire in our 30s, but late 40s or at 50 is certainly possible for most teachers in the country (of course there are the IFs, they start saving early, learning investing, watch fees, climb the salary scale, etc). 

The 403b advocacy has some effective leaders but they are busy with other things. We need a wealthy and charismatic leader who can focus on this problem 100% to get the 403b madness in front of teachers. For example https://www.ngpf.org/  But as you implied Ed, I think, it's going to take more than one strategy, a lot more. But one thing is sure, after 20 years and over 30 403b newspaper articles all warning about the 403b have not done it so far. 

Regarding CampFI, I will be the oldest by far as most or all of them will be younger than 40 who have either achieved FI or are close to it. Scott and I attended FinCon a couple of years ago in San Diego. It was a lot of fun talking with extremely capable young people. 

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