Dear District 300 teachers union,
I appreciate the hard work you do. Educating our youth today is not an easy job, and it’s important. It’s important to the health of our families and to the economic health of our country. I appreciate the abuse you take on a daily basis just to teach a kid how to read, how to do algebra and how the North triumphed over the South in the Civil War.
I’m writing you today to implore you to step back a minute and look at your current squabbles with the school board from my perspective. To be clear, you’re not locked in tough negotiations with the school board — you’re locked in tough negotiations with me — your average property taxpayer in the school district. The thousands of dollars I pay every year in property taxes are entrusted to the school board to spend judiciously, so when the board is demanding concessions from you, it’s because they have to answer to me.
People like me — your friends and neighbors in this community — have been victims of the American economy during the past three years. While the teachers in the teacher’s union were collecting 3% pay increases in 2008-2010, folks like us were taking pay cuts, losing our jobs and foreclosing our homes. The economy has sucked … the wind out of our sales and the value out of our homes.
Don’t get me wrong. Sure, I think you deserve to get a raise. But the fact is, so do I. And I haven’t gotten one in three years. And I’m now doing the work of three people. It’s how the world works right now in this economy.
As far as I know, the administration and the unions representing other staff members have already taken wage freezes or cuts, benefits reductions and other cuts. From what I read in the newspaper, the teachers union and the school board are $83,000 apart in concessions totalling $4 million. That $90,000 you want for teachers who haven’t received raises in the past year or two because of their position on the salary schedule is a petty point. They should be grateful they even have a job. I’m sorry they don’t get a raise again this year, but the money just isn’t there. You can’t get blood out of a turnip, and frankly, my house is a big, fat turnip right now with a whole bunch of worthless paper value.
So when you meet with the school board tomorrow for the 10th time since March, please think of me and be reasonable. It is certainly within your rights to hold things up until the 11th hour when your contract is up June 30, but honestly, I think you’re trifling and being short-sighted and frankly, kind of selfish. Make the concessions and then send out a press release on how you did it because you empathize with the rest of us. You’ll earn my respect for taking that stance instead of my resentment for thinking you should somehow be spared the repercussions of a bad economy. We’re in this together.
A District 300 tax payer