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MEA needs to save our teachers by taking 5% cut
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Why are we losing teachers in Manteca Unified?  As a former teacher, mother to two children attending a MUSD school, and someone who has friends and a husband in MUSD, what is going on?  This is nuts!  

With times being hard, and a “unified” district taking 5% pay cuts, what happened to everyone giving some so none have to give all.  The district and the school board have all been working very hard to make cuts.  None of the cuts are perfect, but at least attempts are being made to make those cuts in a variety of areas.  Every other union in MUSD and even our administration in MUSD have given their 5%...why is it that the elected representative for my friends and our children’s teachers, is not standing up to show that teachers too can give a little to keep MUSD unified? No, instead I’ve heard that he replies to newer teachers to stay out of it, don’t worry about it, the district’s bluffing, and we’ll just recall the school board, and so on.

I don’t think this is fair for all teachers as they all pay union dues to be represented fairly.  Ask a teacher, they’ll show you the responses that Mr. Johnson has given them, or how he has not responded to them at all.  

I feel for my friends; on both sides of what seems to be a union split, some of whom would take the 5% cut, rather than send their neighboring newer teachers and friends to the streets.  Some of my friends believe that the union’s negotiating team is doing right.  Everyone has an opinion and I respect them for theirs.  I am upset about what I am hearing and seeing around me.  All the teachers need to stick together not be divide by misinformation.

Yes, teachers who have been in the district like Mr. Johnson, will lose 5% completely on their salary as they are already at the top end of their ladders, but those who are still moving up the pay scale will take that 5% but might not notice it because they are still climbing.  

The sad thing is, not everyone at the top end is siding with Mr. Johnson.  There are numerous wonderful caring people who have been union leaders and very involved union members who wonder the same as many of us...why does it seem like this is personal for our negotiating team; for Mr. Johnson?  

I can’t believe that the union president wants to be the one who separates his union!  In true leadership, one is able to work with others to come to a compromise.  Decisions may hurt, but at this point, the hurt will be deeply felt by those who will lose their jobs in the coming months and for those that will still be here to teach the larger classes at schools and grade levels that they may not want. Will this be great for our students?  

Our kids are losing!  Our teachers are losing!  My friends are losing! And, Manteca Unified School District is losing many of our great teachers!  Where is the win for our kids?

Come on Mr. Johnson, stand up and join everyone else who has already made a sacrifice, be the president of MEA and fight for our kids, take the cut if it’s truly not about cash in your pocket, but about the best education possible for our children!  

I think MEA and the district administration meet this Tuesday and it  is  the last chance Mr. Johnson will have to help our kids by taking the 5% so that teachers can remain in the classroom teaching our kids.  No stimulus will get us on the winning side now! We’ll all be losers in a race for what?  Five percent of a salary? Lower test scores?  Lower moral?  What else?   Get real and stop comparing MUSD  to other districts...carve the way and be the leading district! Save our kids teachers and my friends, all of them!

The stimulus might be coming, but will it be here too late to keep class size reduction and many of our teachers?  Take the 5% now with the caveat that might return some of the funding to the teachers later with the stimulus if it’s there...isn’t that negotiating?  There is never a 100% guarantee, especially at this point in the game.
Stacie Silveira
March 28, 2009