Morning Read 2: In NY 11,000 teacher positions cut this year

Between actual lay-offs (7,000) and unfilled vacancies (4,000) the number of teacher cuts this year in New York state has been dramatic.  This from the Associated Press via the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.

Overall, 80 percent of school districts reported cutting teaching positions, according to the survey.

“New York state’s schools absorbed one of the largest aid cuts in state history this year, but the reduction in state support has been going on for three years now and it is clearly taking a toll on school districts across the state,” said Robert Reidy, executive director of the superintendents’ group.

As the 2% property tax cap kicks in, the squeeze is expected to get even sharper.  What do you think?  A proper downsizing?  Or will this affect what our kids are experiencing in the classroom?

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36 Comments on “Morning Read 2: In NY 11,000 teacher positions cut this year”

  1. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    If only the the unfunded mandates from the State Ed. dept. would have been cut along with the aid to schools. Then, perhpas, districts wouldn’t be in so much of a pinch three years out.

    Take for example the Obama administrations “Race To the Top” initiative. The State Ed. dept. kept the bulk of the money from the feds and is now creating yet another bunch of mandates in order to meet its requirements and is giving very little of the actual funding to the districsts to actually achieve these new mandates. It’s bizarro world all over again.

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  2. JDM says:

    I think the place to start is the corporate administrative positions. Why start with teachers? It’s always the little guy that gets the brunt of layoffs.

    Those school CEO’s and officers are making hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, plus benefits, plus retirement.

    Time to get rid of the top-heavy bureaucracy, first.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  3. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    JDM,

    What “corporate administrative positions” are you referring to? Except in the case of private and charter schools, in NYS public elementary, middle school, and high schools are operated primarily by state and local employees, including their administrative teams.

    I agree there could certainly be some cutting within the state education dept. as well as at some districts with regard to administration, but you seem to be confused about the fact that these positions are primarily public sector employees.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. marcusaurelius says:

    JDM – The third paragraph of the link points out that more administrators (as a percentage) were cut than teachers. In a district with 100 teachers and 4 administrators, the preponderance of cuts will be teachers. What local school administrator in the North Country is making “hundreds of thousands of dollars”?
    My district’s superintendent averages about 60 hours per week, has rebuffed any raise in the last 2 years, and has the added thrill of being portrayed as lazy and borderline criminal by our Governor.

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  5. Peter Hahn says:

    There is nothing that is good about reducing the number of teachers.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  6. Dave Goldberg says:

    The cuts happening to education are already having terrible consequences for our children, and the situation will only get worse. And it seems to me we are only moving in the wrong direction: instead of looking at what successful countries are doing (i.e.: Finland for one), we keep buying whole hog the very expensive computer-based solutions that Ed. Inc. (AKA: Education Reformers) keeps selling.

    In NYC, we are seeing class sizes rise, while millions of dollars are spent on “e-Learning”. Despite what Arne Duncan, Jeb Bush, or Michelle Rhee say, class size does matter, and computers are not a substitute for a well-trained teacher. Any teacher knows there is a huge difference between teaching 24 students versus, 30 students versus 36 students. Attempts to down-play the significance are pure nonsense.

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  7. Paul says:

    The cuts here in our district have had a negligible effect on the educational experinece that my kids are recieving. More cuts and that could change pretty quickly.

    Better get business moving NYS needs more tax revenue.

    The comptroller reports that the slump on wall street is hurting the budget. We need those capitalists to kick it up a notch!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  8. Pete Klein says:

    We complain we can’t compete with the world but seem not to want to educate the children.
    Unfunded and underfunded mandates come down from Washington and Albany and crush local governments and schools, while support for local governments and schools is cut.
    Who needs enemies when we have “friends” like Washington and Albany?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    To be fair, the federal “Race To the Top Initiative” does provide funding for districts. The problem here in NY is that Albany, i.e. the State Ed. dept., is keeping most of the money…

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. Paul says:

    Here is the report I was talking about right here at NCPR:

    http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/18575/20111012/dinapoli-wall-street-woes-could-affect-whole-state

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  11. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    It certainly is a tough nut to crack. Is pouring more money into the system going to better the quality of education?

    Some of the recent reports indicate that student performance is actually on the decline and colleges report that many students show up woefully unprepared. Less funding can’t be the answer, but it would seem that more funding doesn’t help either. How do we change the educational system to better serve the students?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. John says:

    I think if you want to save teachers jobs one way to help would be to find a less expensive Healthcare Inurance provider. Most schools provide policies with low deductibles and all kinds of bells and whistles and very little, if any, contributions from the staff. I know in Saranac Lake the price/yr for a family plan is over $17000./yr. All persons covered should be required to pay a certain % of the premiums, not a fixed dollar amount, and it should be a minimum of 25%. This would be a relatively painless way to retain teaching positions with a shared sacrafice from all employees. After all if you work in the private sector a 25% contribution for Health Ins is a deal.

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  13. dbw says:

    The best investment we can make in education is smaller class sizes. As for the quality of education, many of the issues our schools face are beyond the control of educators, and reflect the ills of our society as a whole. Talk to any long time teacher and you will hear how there are more wounded and troubled kids in their classrooms than ever before. Most are not “bad” kids, but come from homes where there are issues; one parent homes, have a parent that is mentally or physically ill, or addicted to drugs or alcohol. They are not coming to school ready to learn.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. Gary says:

    Speaking from my 35years in education there is no easy answer. First, parents need to play more of an active role in a childs education. They need to be supportive and make sure their child comes to school prepared. Second, mandates need to be revisited. We have some classrooms with 6 students and 3-4 adults. My last conversation with our superintendent I was told we have to comply with over 70 mandates. Third, class size is not as important as you might think. What is important is to reduce the number of disruptive students in each class. I know this runs against “mainstreaming” but one disruputive student consumes a very high per cent of a teachers time. Lastly, unions need to realize that school districts are in a very difficult position. They need to come up with ways that monies can be saved. They seem to be more reactive and less proactive in solving these problems.

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  15. Peter Hahn says:

    saving money is important, but making teachers pay 25% of 17K is the equivalent of docking their pay 5K. That isn’t painless. The Unions negotiate the health care as part of the benefits package so that it is in pre-tax money. They accept lower take-home in exchange for health care coverage. It doesn’t cost the district anything and increases the amount the teachers get.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  16. Peter Hahn says:

    The big problem – and it is the problem everywhere at all levels is that health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate. Pushing the costs onto the employees is a temporary solution that just lowers everyones pay.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  17. newt says:

    My 30 years in education agrees completely with Gary’s 35. Especially about disruptive students. This is almost always overlooked when we talk about problems, but disruptive students were more a bigger problem for me than than all the usual suspect problems one always hear about (and I’m pretty sure I had at least average class management skills) The 150 pound gorilla in the room, so to speak.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. Phil says:

    It’s long overdue time to reduce the number of teaching positions in our public schools. During the past 20 years the number of “teaching positions” per student in our schools has mushroomed. There are aides for the classroom, the lunch room, the playground, the bus, the library, the sports teams, in nearly every school system. Then, of course, there are supervisors for the aides, and supervisors for the supervisors for the aides, etc. And there are the diploma mills for teachers (Schools of Education) such as Plattsburgh State we taxpayers pay to maintain.

    It’s also time to reign in the growth in educators’ salaries. Few people remember that in the Obama Stimulus plan of 2008, not only banks but also state and local governments received billions in stimulus money. Where did that money go? Did any of you see your taxes go down? Of course not. Those billions went into the pockets civil servants like teachers. In my local school district (Ballston Spa) Teachers (and aides, and administrators, and bus drivers, etc.) averaged 7% raises each year during 2008, 2009 and 2010, a time when non government workers were losing their jobs or seeing their wages decline or, at best, experiencing wage freezes. Teachers contracts were honored and generally lay offs were avoided.

    Now it is time for educators to share some of the burden of this recession. School boards must negotiate smaller increases in pay for educators and other reductions in their golden fringe benefits. This is how to maintain good education programs for our children with less money – rein in greedy educators who demand more money or your children will suffer.

    (By the way, the banks paid back most of the bailout money they received. Did any civil servants offer to pay back what they pocketed? Or did they just promise to vote Democratic forever?)

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

  19. Pete Klein says:

    Perhaps the problem is lousy parents. Maybe they need to be charged with endangering the welfare of minors when their kids aren’t doing well in school.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Gary says:

    Well Pete, you would be surprised at the number of students who receive special Ed at early grade levels because they are so far behind their classmates. To compound the problem they are tested at the third grade level with state mandated tests. So here we are trying to teach to the test so the district looks good.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  21. dbw says:

    “Now it is time for educators to share some of the burden of this recession.”

    Didn’t Brian point out at in his blog that 11,000 teachers had lost their jobs in NYS?” That sounds like educators already are sharing in the burden of this recession.

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  22. Mervel says:

    I think all school super’s in the North Country make near or above 100K per year. I don’t think one single classroom teacher should have been cut. If you have to cut start with non-instructional positions. There is no easy answers but the one variable that keeps coming up in every study that we see about education is that teaching quality in the classroom is the key variable. Not new buildings, not new books, not administrators, not counselors, and on and on and on, one key variable: teachers. Which kind of makes sense.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. JDM says:

    If Clapton: “you seem to be confused”

    Do you really think public education employees stop at the local school level?

    The number of bureaucrats drawfs the number of teachers, if not numerically, then, certainly by salaries, and probably 10-fold.

    Oh, if only our local school was just that – a local school. Unfortunately the top-heavy Dept of Education – both state and federal – cost us lots.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  24. Michael Greer says:

    The over paid weasels in this equation do not work in our schools, or even in our educational bureaucracy. They work in the insurance industry.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  25. scratchy says:

    Mandates must be addressed, most notably the egregious disciplinary procedures that protect teachers who fail to perform. Some make little sense at all. For example, school employees are uaranteed paid time off for cancer screening, in addition to their regular personal days. when a teacher is out of the classroom the district has to hire a substitute. This is incompletely unnecessary as teachers get long summers and several school year breaks.

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  26. dbw says:

    School employees are not guaranteed time off for cancer screening, but can use their sick time for routine medical appointments. Prevention and early detection, especially of such costly illnesses as cancer, just make good financial sense in terms of keeping school health care costs down.

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  27. Walker says:

    “The over paid weasels in this equation … work in the insurance industry.”

    You’ve got that right! This is 2008 CEO salaries:

    Aetna, Ronald A. Williams: $24,300,112
    Cigna, H. Edward Hanway: $12,236,740
    Coventry, Dale Wolf: $9,047,469
    Health Net, Jay Gellert: $4,425,355
    Humana, Michael McCallister: $4,764,309
    U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley: $3,241,042
    Wellpoint, Angela Braly: $9,844,212

    Source: http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/05/20/health-insurance-ceos-total-compensation-in-2008/

    More here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/05/26/735411/-Health-insurance-industry-CEO-salary-survey,-stay-calm-for-this

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  28. Ranger says:

    Phil,
    I want you to stop for a second and consider your statement,
    “Few people remember that in the Obama Stimulus plan of 2008, not only banks but also state and local governments received billions in stimulus money. Where did that money go?”
    The reason no one remembers this is because it never happened. President Obama was not the architect of that stimulus, it was the Bush administration that pushed the $1 Trillion bailout through. Obama didn’t even take office until Jan 2009, and he inherited a Bush era budget for FY2009 that didn’t expire until October 2009.
    Republicans love to demonize anything that won’t or doesn’t fit into their political ideology, even if that means twisting reality to fit their argument. Please do us a favor and check your information before attempting to throw someone under the bus for something they had nothing to do with.
    The problem isn’t the teachers and their “Golden fringe benefits”, it’s the grotesque number of administrators and other non-teaching positions that suck the educational coffers dry. If you have a problem with a teacher who holds a Master’s Degree and earns $42k per year, you should reconsider your priorities. That pay rate is a disgusting slap in the face for someone with that level of education considering all the ridiculous rules and regulations imposed on them when it comes to doing their jobs.
    The reason so many non-government jobs have been lost has nothing to do with the stimulus or the government, it has everything to do with poor leadership and management by the companies themselves. I find it highly unusual that you would blame the government for private industrys’ failures and inability to become more competitive. It’s high time that private industry take responsibility for their actions and clean up their own messes. If you were one of the people who lost your job during the economic meltdown, I’m sorry. Maybe you should be directing your anger towards the company and the reason for the layoff and stop blaming everyone else for your lot in life.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  29. Pete Klein says:

    It continues to amaze me that everyone complains about the cost of health insurance but no one does anything about it.
    There is only one solution. Make it illegal to sell or by health insurance. Get rid of Medicare and Medicaid. Then institute National Health Care – the exact same program for one and all, from the President right down to you and me, paid for with a percent addition to the income tax.
    Anything not covered must be paid for in cash.
    This would create the closest you will ever get to a level playing field and greatly reduce costs for private businesses, local schools and governments.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  30. Walker says:

    Yeah, but Pete, what about all those unemployed health insurance CEOs? And the back office employees in India whose job it is to deny or delay benefit payments?

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  31. JDM says:

    Here is a list of the top school administrator’s pay in NYS:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?pli=1&key=0AnvFUcjJtCwEdE9xcU1mN0ZBRjROdWQ2dG10clpXWUE&hl=en_US#gid=0

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  32. Mervel says:

    I think it is relevant that health insurance ceo’s make so much money. None of them live here though so we don’t think about them.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  33. scratchy says:

    dbw says:
    October 13, 2011 at 6:30 am
    “School employees are not guaranteed time off for cancer screening, but can use their sick time for routine medical appointments.”

    you’re wrong.
    http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/CVS/10/159-b

    Cancer screening is important but why can’t school employees get screening during the summer.

    Ranger,

    “If you have a problem with a teacher who holds a Master’s Degree and earns $42k per year, you should reconsider your priorities. That pay rate is a disgusting slap in the face for someone”

    But what about the free or nearly free health care benefits, retirement benefits (retire at 55 with free health care), extensive time off, and job security (tenure)?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  34. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    JDM,

    Of course public employees go beyond the classroom. That’s precisely my point. Nearly EVERY employee within a public school is a public employee. From bus drivers, maintenance personnel, clerical staff, aides, cafeteria workers, to administrators. You suggested in your initial post that we need to cut CORPORATE positions. Fact of the matter is, they’re are very few non public, or what you refer to as “corporate positions” within New York State Education to begin with. When I suggested you were confused, I meant that you seem to think schools in NY are private, corporate entities. The vast majority are not.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  35. JDM says:

    If Clapton:”you seem to think schools in NY are private”

    Not at all. Just pointing out the similarities between corporate greed and public greed.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  36. Walker says:

    JDM, your “list of the top school administrator’s pay in NYS” only covered lower Hudson Valley schools– three of New York’s 62 counties.

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