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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clay county teachers not feeling the love

From the Florida Times Union

When Tina [Turner] was finally out of Ike's reach, she hit the top of the charts with "What's Love Got To Do With It." Is it out of love that you treat us so poorly? Is it out of love that [Gov.] Rick Scott broke his campaign promise to keep education safe from budget cuts? Is it out of love that [state Sen. John] Mr. Thrasher is trying to take away our rights?

Mr. Farrell, we don't need your love. There already seems to be a bit too much of Ike Turner-like love coming our way. Love has nothing to do with our current situation. We don't need your condescending lectures regarding fiscal responsibility. When you discussed your 14-year-old car and lack of cost of living raises with your social security income, you failed to mention your income and benefits package from the school district of Clay County. Love has nothing to do with this. We do not feel loved. We do not feel respected.

Too many of us are working second jobs. We are cutting coupons. We are driving old cars. We are wearing 2-year-old shoes. We are wearing clothing with frayed cuffs. We are running up credit card debt to make ends meet. Unfortunately, we don't get government bailouts because we are mere citizens. We are mere citizens who are currently in the crosshairs of the political parties that you kowtow to. We are public servants.

This budget, that you first proposed and then voted down in the same manner in which Lucy plays football with Charlie Brown, would provide, in Mr. Wortham's own words "...reoccurring savings [that] would be greater than the cost." News reports said Wortham believed "it was fiscally responsible and offered long-term savings through changes in insurance and how retired teachers who return to the classroom are paid."

This budget, would've cost about the same as the district hopes to add to the already well-stocked coffers in Race to the Top Dollars. The federal funds necessitate the cooperation of the local bargaining unit, CCEA. Although many of the hoops required by Race to the Top are not "teacher friendly," Clay's teachers worked diligently and in good faith with the county administration to create the best plan possible. These dollars would not be coming to Clay without this bargaining unit, without the cooperation of Clay's most dedicated folks ... without time spent outside of paid working hours to develop the appropriate tools and measures to get the grant funding.

So, if this budget would've actually been beneficial to the county, why would the board vote it down? Was it that the board didn't understand the actual financial implications of this agreement? Was it that the board felt it was unfair to hurt the veteran teachers by cutting their pay to commit an act of in-house socialism? Or was it that the board was acting politically in response to perception rather than reality?

Tina Turner sang :

"I've been taking on a new direction

But I have to say

I've been thinking about my own protection
It scares me to feel this way."

Soon your quality teachers will be singing the same song. Sandy Henney echoed these sentiments at the latest school board meeting by saying it might be time to leave Florida. She's not the only one feeling that way. We want to stay, but it might just be time, in order to protect ourselves, to leave. Mr. Wortham was right, morale has been affected and the recovery won't be quick. There is no bailout for back-outs. Sorry Frank, but we're just not feeling the love.

See you in the trenches,

The United Teachers of the Clay County Education Association.


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