A man or woman will fight for dignity. Life isn’t worth living without it. That is the reason why, if teachers in Madera are not given a raise (finally!) and guaranteed that our health benefits won’t be trifled with, after 24 years in the district, I will put a resume together and look for employment elsewhere. If that doesn’t work out, I will seek employment outside the teaching profession.
I say this despite the fact that I teach at Madera South High School, one of the best places a teacher could ever work. Every day I get to teach shoulder to shoulder with the most dedicated, caring, committed and competent teachers on this planet. The administrators and counselors, the support staff beginning with Sandon Schwartz as principal, our excellent team of vice principals, down to the top notch security and custodial staff, are the best in the land. Everybody here cares about kids. Everybody here works so very hard every day for every student, no matter what it takes.
So why would I leave? I will have to leave because I haven’t gotten any kind of raise since 2006; in fact, my take home pay is $200 less a month than it was six years ago.
I will have to leave because since 2006 I have not signed, seen, or been given a contract.
I will have to leave because I now pay co-pays every time I or a member of my family goes to the doctor that I didn’t have to pay seven years ago.
I will have to leave because I have submitted to furlough days, and in the last few years my lunch hour has been reduced from one hour to 45 minutes, my break time cut in half from 20 minutes to 10.
I will have to leave because I now have Professional Learning Team meetings during my prep period and/or lunch, and intervention lessons to prepare. Both PLCs and Intervention are worthwhile things, and I am glad to do them, but I was never given a say in the matter, nor have I or any other teacher been offered thanks or remuneration from the district for those things.
I will have leave because Madera pays its teachers far below what districts around ours pay theirs. Superintendents on the other hand, are given 8 percent pay raises and golden handshakes when they retire!
I will have to leave because the district administration, in spite of the fact that Prop. 30 passed, and a $37 million reserve exists, want to cap medical benefits and deny us pay for mandatory meetings outside our work day.
In 1776, we the people of the United States rebelled against an unjust tyrant who oppressed us. It is not hyperbole to compare King George to the district administration in Madera. I would give King George more credit for compassion and intelligence. I would strike today if I could. I would join a wild cat strike if it were proposed.
I am proud to say I am a teacher despite the fact that I work for a district that treats its teachers like horse manure.
Twenty-four years ago when I started working for the district, teachers were treated with respect. We had superintendents, district administrators and school board members who told us we were valued. That was then. Now, if a teacher wants dignity, he has to go elsewhere.
Teacher at Madera South High School