School Furloughs: Who’s Paying the Price?

Here’s what happens when your school board doesn’t stand up for kids:


There are now only 14 school days in November. Why? Because the school union demanded days off instead of pay cuts.  Sadly, your elected trustees didn’t have the spine to go against them.

Here’s the funny part: the school closures were negotiated by our fainthearted board to prevent some sort of union strike.

So we traded days off due to a strike for…  days off.

No. That can't be right.

But rest assured, undereducated children… it was all done in the spirit of “working together,” and only in an effort to do “what’s best for the kids.”

46 Replies to “School Furloughs: Who’s Paying the Price?”

  1. If only we could elect one courageous school boarder to lead these wimps into battle, it could be a dramatic improvement for our kids.

  2. Air travellers will remember the SFH (Summer From Hell) in 2000. It was then that pilots walked off the job stranding thousands in far off locals like Des Moines and Reno.

    People beat the shit out of them for holding out. Later, one of the retired management executives said it best:

    “You can’t blame the APA (union), they were just doing what they do. It was expected they were going to do this. We (management) was to blame, we caved, we could’nt stand up to them, and we lost and as aresult United went bankrupt 18 months later”.

    The lesson here: Take the medicine, it tastes BAD, but it will make you better and healthier.

  3. Teachers DID take a pay cut in Fullerton…and none of the teachers I know like the furlough days. They want to be in the classroom with their kids

    1. Sanity,

      Whether or not the teachers took a pay cut is not the issue. Somehow as part of the deal the teachers also got furlough days. Obviously the cut was going to be larger and a deal was struck. I dont want to see anyone take a pay cut but furloughs are not ever a reasonable solution for a school district because no matter what the reason, the kids get less instruction.

      1. Well ieachers did not demand “days off instead of pay cuts”, they took a pay cut by way of furlough days which is not even close to the same thing. And instruction will always suffer, you just have to pick your poison.

        Furlough days are a last resort to try and retain positions that might otherwise get cut by sharing the pain across the board, and always the choice is kids being underserved one way or another. Either staff is reduced and there are fewer teachers for the same number of kids (and larger class size), or they keep more teachers and therer are fewer days of instruction because of furloughs.

        1. How would across-the-board pay cuts cause instruction to suffer?

          Who’s talking about reducing teachers? Pay cut. Pay cut. Pay cut.

  4. Yea, Sanity. They gave back a cost of living increase two. Big deal.

    If the teachers don’t like furlough days, why do they let their unions push for them?

    Won’t somebody think of the children?

  5. Now that property values are stagnant let’s get rid of Prop. 13 and properly fund the schools so we don’t have this problem.

    1. Oh yeah, the most regressive tax you can think of. Being taxed on money you don’t have. This kind of thinking shows what happens when kids don’t get enough instruction.

    1. NO. A pay cut implies doing the same work for less money. A furlough day is just unpaid time off. Less services, same rate.

      1. Justaguy hit the nail on the head. Nipsey obviously never took a class in economics (or if so didnt read the book). By cutting pay and keeping the same amount of instruction days the teachers certainly get less pay but there are the same number of them working the same number of school days.

        A pay cut for most of the world just means less money for the same amount of work. Only in government do these issues arise. Never the less, in the case of kids, if cuts have to be made we should cut pay and not cut the number of school days for instruction

        1. “By cutting pay and keeping the same amount of instruction days the teachers certainly get less pay but there are the same number of them working the same number of school days”

          Nonsense, because what teachers are expected to deliver don’t change depending on how many hours you put in.

          Imagine you had a contract to do a job, then the client announces that while your obligations remain the same, you now have x% less time and a corresponding x% less pay to do it. That is exactly what’s happening, because standardized testing and grade-level competency expectations don’t change because there are furlough days.

          ‘Oh look, scores from X elementary are down but hey, let’s spot them x% because they had several mandatory 4 day weeks.’ Fat chance.

          This has simply reduced the amount of time (accompanied by a corresponding loss in pay) to do exactly the same job as before. It doesn’t matter whether you think it’s good or bad, if teachers are overpaid or underpaid or whatever. It is simply fact.

        2. I must’ve been skipping econ to study logic.

          Everything by which teachers’ performance is judged, standardized test scores and student grade-level competency, etc., don’t change because of furlough days. It’s not as if the state will spot them 5% for having several mandated 4-day weeks.

          Imagine having a contract to do a job, then the client announces that your responsibilities to fulfill the contract are exactly the same but you now have x% less time and corresponding x% less pay to do it. That is what this is. It doesn’t matter whether you like it or don’t, or think teachers are generally over- or underpaid, it is simply fact — and obvious to boot.

  6. Easy fix: Cut pay not days.

    For those attempting to share that there should be furlough days in order to “save” classroom size and keep staff you have never lived in the real world.

    There are PLENTY of out of work teachers that will work for the rate of pay AFTER a pay cut!

    Why should students suffer for greedy teachers? Yeah I said it, greedy teachers, just like cops and fire, take your pay cut and live with it. There are plenty of people that are waiting in line to replace you.

    So I have to ask are the teachers the new: “Hero and deserve”

  7. nipsey :This has simply reduced the amount of time (accompanied by a corresponding loss in pay) to do exactly the same job as before.

    That was the choice of the teachers’ union. They could have just taken the pay cut and kept the school year the same length. They didn’t. Everyone suffers. They have nobody to blame but their own leadership.

  8. Furloughs don’t matter for elementary and high school kids. Their teachers are complete failures anyway. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the Fullerton College class schedule.

    Fullerton College has FIVE levels of remedial math prior to MATH 100. In Fall 2010, FJC offered 95 remedial math classes. Most of them begin at the 6th grade level and run through 10th grade algebra. Let’s put this into perspective. Full-time math professors teach 4 or 5 classes per semester. 95 divided 5 = 19 full-time professors. FJC uses many part-timers to cut down on costs. Nevertheless, many full-timers have jobs because of the need for remedial classes. Conservatively, the math department alone shells out $1.5 million in salaries and benefits annually to teach remedial math. Who knows what the per pupil costs are.

    Same story for English classes. 65 sections of ENGL 100, but 81 sections of remedial English classes. This is embarrassing.

    This ought to be a wake-up call for the fuck ups better known as high school teachers. Instead of assigning busy work in the form of crossword puzzles, humpty dumpty reading assignments, and other bullshit, why not teach something our kids can use?

    1. Blaming teachers for a failure in education is like blaming doctors in a MASH unit for all the deaths.

      It is precisely the opposite side of the same coin where parents blame schools for not raising their kids for them, it places blame on people and an institution which was never intended or capable of doing that job.

      The enemy of educational excellence is demographics. It is not going to get better, ever. It might sound like I’m a teacher apologist, but I’m not — nor do I think they have much to apologize for. I expect that most teachers think, or at least hope, that there is a way to dig out of this mess, but it’s fantasy. School is at best third, probably fourth, on the list of major influences on kids, after family, friends, media/advertising. To think that six hours in class will somehow magically cure everything that is wrong with the other eighteen hours a day plus 48 hours of weekends in kids lives is patently ridiculous, yet both sides, educrats and demagogues alike, buy into this absurd meme and wrongly frame the argument in that context.

      1. I agree with almost all of this.

        But teachers and “educrats” must be accountable on some level. And taking additional days off isn’t a responsible action.

        Worse still, when times get better and pay increases are restored, watch those furlough days become enshrined as paid days off.

        1. Joe

          That may be, but it’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not particularly enlightening to discuss why people aren’t wiling to be martyrs, which kind of answers itself. I am very interested in the state of education and that in spite of talking about it a lot, most people don’t understand it.

          The quality of teachers and teaching is as good as it’s ever been. Probably better. The state of education is because of something else entirely.

          Why are Asian kids so overrepresented in GATE and elite schools from grade school all the ay through University? Because they have some innate ability to thrive in spite of sucky, inadequate teaching? No, it’s because there is a culture of discipline and ambition of respect for education in their homes, and their parents kick their asses (or threaten to) in order for them to excel at their studies. Somehow they might also find time for piano or violin lessons, or both. Home life and growing up in a culture that prizes education and intellectual discipline is everything.

          In short, there are people who miraculously thrive in these ‘bad’ schools with ‘failed’ teachers and they are very different from the ones that do not.

          Citing remedial classes at CSU as evidence of bad primary or secondary teaching is a red herring. Remedial classes at a University isn’t just alarming, it’s disgraceful, but it’s not happening because everybody has gotten stupid. It has happened because CSU and many, many other places like it are accepting people that they never used to accept. People who were ill equipped for University have always been here in large numbers. The difference was that they did not attend University!

          In 1900 only about 4% of college age kids actually went to college. Now it’s almost 40%. While part of the rise can be attributed to college education being more available to anyone who was not rich, white and male, this doesn’t explain a tenfold rise in attendance rates. Not even close.

          Attending college has gone from being something rarified to an almost routine expectation for many people including those who are not equipped for it. People who don’t have advanced proficiency in all the areas you’d need for college shouldn’t be in college. The excellent and accomplished students are still out there and still going to MIT and Stanford and Cal Tech, but CSU and places like it have lowered the bar (due to societal pressures) to let in poorly equipped students and then teach remedial classes to people that traditionally have no place in a University.

          Short answer with CSU and elementary schools, the student population has changed.

          1. Quick follow up, Steve was citing Fullerton College and all the remedial classes as evidence of, well something. The Community Colleges mission under state law is to provide 1) lower division college courses for transfer or AA degree and 2) to provide remedial and adult education, serve returning students etc. It is their mandated role.

            While providing some means of remedial education is necessary, I think putting it within a college system is a huge mistake, and contributes to the broadening and devaluation of what constitutes ‘going to college’.

            CSU has no mandate to provide remedial education and it is a travesty that they do.

  9. Steve, u have no clue what your talking about. Fullerton College is a JC, thats why it has many remedial programs. What about all the kids in California who go to great universities? Do their teachers have nothing to do with that. I graduated high school in 2004, probably a lot later then you (if you ever graduated in the first place, thats questionable at this point). My teachers were great and put in every effort that would be expected. Maybe when your closer to the front lines you can speak up. Also much of the 1.5 million is paid by student tuition. Should any tax money go to remedial math, maybe not, but you gotta put things in a better perspective, rather then just railing against teachers.

    1. compton, you are a walking talking indictment of the public school system: sloppy writing, bad grammar, muddled logic, etc., etc, ad nauseam,

      If you want to do the system a big favor just shut up.

    2. Hey Compton, you’re an idiot. CSUF offers remedial classes too. For the Fall 2010 semester, there were 49 remedial English and 30 remedial Math classes.

      Again, more evidence our public elementary and high school teachers are garbage.

  10. Classic ad hominem, blame the teachers for the state republican pledge signers who refuse to raise taxes to meet the needs of public services, namely education for our children.

    1. But the public education lobby would keep ratcheting up those demands for revenue constantly without some sort of brake – just like the “public safety” unions have done.; and despite the manifest failure that is demonstrated by so many remedial English and math classes at both JCs and CS schools.

  11. Note to Steve, English Major, Jefferson Thomas and whoever else this may apply to: Is it possible to make your point without insulting the person you’re disagreeing with? (Of course it is…why not try it?)

    1. Note to Sanity: compton is a little Harry Sidhu troll who has long since exhausted any claim to civility on this site. Why he comes back after the latest Sidhu flameout is beyond me.

  12. Sanity:

    1. I didn’t directly insult anyone rather the educational/safety institutions.

    2. Typically in a discussion wherein robbing people to pay for services they may not desire, someone may be insulted.

    3. I may begin to respect these institutions again if they volunteer to take large pay cuts across the board.

    4. Have a nice day.

  13. To Jefferson: I would say that generalizing the teachers as “greedy” qualifies as an insult. I don’t know any teachers who are in the business for the money.

  14. Sanity,

    Please spend more time in the profession, I have. Many teachers are greedy.

    The insult is justified. There are too many teachers who obtain tenure and then fail to perform, while rising in pay scale.

    In order for teachers to regain the respect that they seek for their profession from the public that pays them, they need to fire their union reps and agree to an overall across the board paycut while continuing to teach as many days possible for the next generation.

    Teachers need to remember that by cutting possible learning days for their current students, they may be cutting “innovation” that these students create in order to sustain the teachers future retirement bill. 🙂

    Not insulting at all, practical.

  15. To Jefferson: I would not begin to comment on anyone’s profession if I didn’t already have first hand experience. I don’t know what your background in education is, but in the 35 years I have in the education field (elementary and junior high/middle school), I’ve come to appreciate the vast majority of teachers who bust their butts on a daily basis to do what right for their kids. It’s by far the toughest job in the field – principals and administrators downtown have it far easier and often lose sight of what the day-to-day classroom experience is like.

    What is going on in public education in California and across the country goes far beyond a question of unions, good and bad, teachers, good and bad and administrators, good and bad. I’ve worked closely with all of them and like any profession, there are those that shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing and should be removed. I’m waiting for an adequate, fair system that truly measures how to evaluate teachers. I have yet to see one proposed (and I keep searching). It’s got to be more that only looking at test scores.

    The question of the unions is far more involved that simply firing union reps.

    If you have spent your life as an educator, I salute you. It’s a noble profession. We obviously have different ways of looking at things…and yeah, I still have the problem with the “greedy” statement.

  16. I go back to my original statement. Why should student suffer for the greed of teachers?

    If the problem is not with the union and their ilk refusing to take a paycut in order to properly serve the students……then who is making the decision.

    Teachers who would rather chose NOT to work and VOTE with their union to NOT work and thus affect the children they have chosen to educate.

    That is greed pure and simple. Acting in a selfish interest with respect to monetary compensation rather than considering the student’s as a primary concern.

    I’m glad we can have this discussion, there needs to be reasonable conversation regarding this topic for the public to view.

  17. Regarding furlough days…I can’t speak for Fullerton and how it was decided. In my district, it was the board and superintendent who made the decision to go with furloughs. It was not a negotiated item.

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