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First of all ~ to my regulars: I know this is a step away from my “normal” posts. I promise things are not changing here, the crafty, crazy, family fun will continue with my next post. I need to say this. I need people to hear it.

Dr. Evans and Paterson Board of Education:

Maybe you remember me from the meeting last night. I was the second speaker. I brought visual aids ~ my 5 year old twins, and I told you our story. Let me remind you of that story, and elaborate a bit. This pay freeze, and working without a contract affects many people, but I am going to tell you how it affects us, my family.

My husband, Douglas Rayot, has been teaching HS English in your district for 14 years. We have been together for nearly 11 of those years. We have planned our lives with his contracts in mind. We looked at those contracts, saw the increments, (pay scale) and knew basically what he would be getting paid every year forward. Even when new contracts were signed, the pay basically stayed the same, with a bit of an increase for inflation. So it was always safe to judge off the current contract, because the pay never went down. Even knowing that, we still added in a “safety zone,” just to be sure. After all, a few more years in an apartment before buying a house would be better than buying a house and having to sell it a few years later, right? So we planned. We thought we were doing it right. We thought that if he was accountable to his contracts, so were you.

We were wrong. He has been working without a contract for over 3 years now. His pay is frozen, yet you take more every year from his pay towards benefits. He is expected to follow the most recent contract, but you are not.

He works a second job. He started before the girls were born. We had a plan. Next year (13/14 school year) he was supposed to hit the last of the pay bubbles. He was supposed to be able to quit that second job this year, just as the girls started kindergarten. He was supposed to be home to help with homework, to eat dinner together, to be a family. He is not. He is home on Sundays, and half a day on Saturdays. If he is really lucky he may be home just in time to tuck the girls in one other night a week, but he is never home for dinner on weeknights, and certainly never home to help with homework. At least twice a week I have to comfort my daughters as they cry about missing Daddy.

This was supposed to be the year that things got a little easier financially, based on those previous contracts. Instead, you froze his pay just before the first of the bubbles.

14 years in district, and he brings home $400 a month less than he did 4 years ago. 14 years in district and you pay him under $54,000 a year. 14 years in district and he has to work a second job just to almost make ends meet. 14 years in district and he doesn’t get to tuck his children in most nights. 14 years in district and we may have to sell our home.

Hi-Everyone!

These are our children. They love life. They love their school. They love their friends. They love their home. Most of all, they love their Daddy (and their Mommy.) By freezing Doug’s pay, you have taken their Daddy away from them. If we do not see our increments by the end of the school year, we may have to sell their home. $400 a month less than 4 years ago, yet our bills keep going up. Gas prices go up. Grocery prices go up. Our savings is gone. We borrowed against his retirement to get us through this school year, but that will be gone by June. We are broke, and we are broken. You broke us.

Yet he goes in every day. He has perfect attendance. He always has perfect attendance. I think in 14 years, he has not had perfect attendance 2 or 3 times out of the 28 attendance sections. He goes in to work and gives his all. He makes a difference in those kid’s lives. They come back and tell him so. You are beyond blessed to have him. Yet look what you do to him.

Doug is a phenomenal teacher. He is a wonderful husband. He is an amazing father. He does not deserve what you are doing to him. Neither do our children. Neither do the rest of your teachers or their families.

When you sit down in contract negotiations, when you talk about whether or not to lift the pay freeze, when you decide whether or not to actually negotiate the contract, I don’t want you to see dollar signs. You are not talking about budget, you are talking about people. Your teachers and their families. Doug, Kyla, Vada, and me. Go ahead, print out the pictures of my girls, and bring them with you. When you feel the pressure from those invisible forces that are telling you to keep the freeze, to not truly negotiate, look at Kyla and Vada. They miss their Daddy. They don’t want to lose their home. Think of them, and save them. It is in your hands. You have the power to bring them happiness, or to devastate them.

~ Jessie

Kyla

Kyla

Vada

Vada

Jessie-At-Home

©Copyright 2013 Jessie Rayot / Jessie At Home All my videos, patterns and posts are my own work. Do not copy them in any way. If you want to share this information with someone, share the link to this post. If you want to share on your own blog / website, then you may use the first photo in this post and link back to this post. You may not give away printed copies of this post. Thank you.

PS ~ Please realize that I must approve each comment before it is added. If you are YELLING, calling names, being excessively rude, or being prejudice in any way (against race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) I will not approve your comment. I have no problem approving comments that I do not agree with, but I do my best to keep this site family friendly and safe. We are all educated adults (at least those of us who this post really applies to) so let’s act like it.

Leave a Comment

  • Tiffany March 28, 2013, 9:51 pm

    I absolutely love your letter! If only the powers that be could think of us as people and not dollar signs.
    I teach in an urban district. Our contract is up this year with the negotiations just beginning. I am hoping that all stays positive. It’s going to be rough…

    Reply
  • Dave March 28, 2013, 10:23 pm

    What an excellent letter! I certainly hope they will take it to heart. Sadly, the powers that be, including politicians and the upper level administrators, seem hell-bent on destroying this profession; and the average citizen is letting it happen.

    Reply
  • Laura March 28, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Amazing! My husband also works in Paterson and we are going through the same struggles. Stay strong.

    Reply
  • Carlos March 28, 2013, 11:48 pm

    I believe you are barking up the wrong tree. Dr. Evans does what he is told by Cerf and Christie. He cut his deal to get his contract extended and a comfortable job for his wife. His family is taken care of. Your family, the entire Paterson educational community, the entire community of Paterson be damned.

    As far as Paterson, Evans is just a puppet, not a man, and certainly not a leader in any way, shape, or form.

    Reply
  • Denise March 29, 2013, 5:52 am

    Hi,
    At school yesterday I actually heard about your speech by someone who was moved to tears listening to it.
    I wish you and your family a blessed holiday.
    Denise

    Reply
  • Michelle March 29, 2013, 7:10 am

    Your letter is amazing! I’ve been a teacher in a Paterson high school for almost 6 years. I planned all of my future moves based on the same number you did. I’m a single parent and my son was 8 when I started. I went to school nights to get my master’s degree to help those kids who need it desperately. I figured I’d have no problems paying my student loans when they came due. Well never did I factor on making less than I did when I was a novice teacher. My son and I live with my mother and her husband because I couldn’t afford a place of my own on what I make now. I thought I’d be able to save for a condo for us by now. I have no savings but live paycheck to paycheck. My son is now 16. How will I look him in the eye and say “Your college choices are limited because I can’t afford to pay and I make too much to qualify for help with tuition.” (But I make less than I did when I started teaching in Paterson.) I love teaching in Paterson and I get such fulfillment when I have students come back to see me after graduation to tell me I made a difference in their lives. How about Paterson Board of Ed and the State of NJ doing something so I can make a difference in the life of my own son!

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 9:11 am

      Wow, it sounds like you should also write a letter! I not only posted mine here, but I emailed it to Dr. Evans and many of the BOE members, and the Union as well. Good luck. I wish I had hope for you, but that left long ago. At least I still have fight!

      Reply
  • denise March 29, 2013, 9:26 am

    we’re all in the same boat & it appears to be sinking fast…that being said, i choose to hold onto the belief that what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger! a grave injustice is being done by our governor-both in his policies & his arrogant attitude. he has no regard for the law, while he holds the highest position in the legal system of NJ! such a contradiction to our youth- lead by example, i think not!! i think that if we all shared our similar stories of working in the Paterson schools, we could fill several volumes of a coffee-table size biography. maybe that’s what we can do to supplement our income…just sayin’

    Reply
  • Steven March 29, 2013, 10:31 am

    What a fantastic letter. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of knowing Doug, I’d like to fill in one of the blanks. Doug was my mentor when I started working at Eastside nearly ten years ago (I’ve since moved on). He had the perfect attitude to handle the duty of teaching in what was (is?) a volatile environment. He was a calming influence on me and a model for how to teach, not just in the classroom in terms of English, but with interactions with students and families that were dealing with the variety pack of familial and social issues. He was also a leader for the English Department teacher–his voice was always heard; his opinions always weighed heavily among his colleagues.

    We called him “Sir Doug,” because of his hobbies and interests, but the monicker fit him perfectly as a person as well. Breaks my heart to read this. Your family will be in my prayers, Jessie.

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 10:41 am

      Thank you, Steven, that means a lot to us.

      Reply
      • wendy March 29, 2013, 11:38 am

        I wish a similar letter had been written to the Montville Township Board of Ed before we had settled.

        Reply
  • Mom March 29, 2013, 1:18 pm

    Jess, Can I post this on my fb page? Maybe if more people see it more people will write letters. I love you,

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 1:28 pm

      Yes, please. The more people who see it, the better.

      Reply
  • Jess March 29, 2013, 1:23 pm

    Wow,
    I work in district, only a couple of years in, and I must say I am sorry for you guys and even more angry with our collective situation as employees of this district. What you wrote was quite powerful and truly makes me think about where I am, and where I want to be in the future, planning for a family. Thank you for speaking up so eloquently and passionately. It is a warning to us, and hopefully a wake up call to someone in power.

    Reply
  • Joseph Savastano March 29, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Great job Jessie! I wish that there were more people like you speaking out.

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 3:27 pm

      Thank you, Joe! I was so glad to finally meet you in person the other night, as well!

      Reply
  • Donald Todrin March 29, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Apparently you are from the entitlement group, where you are “entitled to rewards” Also apparently you neglected to take a math course during your education, because the unions have driven such a hard deal, (your entitlement package) with your retirement program, (i wish I got 80% of my pay for life along with medical benefits,) and the community cannot support it. But keep demanding that you are entitled so everyone else who does not get your deal has to pay more taxes to keep up with your entitlements, and you are complaining! Wow.

    And by the way $54,000 for 180 days of work, not a bad deal. If you are un happy why not quit and get something better. Oh this is the best you can do, then appreciate it, since I and so many others are paying for it. I get to say what I just said.

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 3:26 pm

      I thought about deleting this instead of approving the reply, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, that is all I will say, as I do not intend on being drawn into a fight. Have a great weekend, and good luck with your little blog.

      Reply
      • Sandra March 30, 2013, 11:21 am

        Jessie you are an amazing person and deserve all the best. Donald, you have it all wrong. Teachers don’t think they are entitled in the way you are using it. They work hard every day to teach everyone’s children but usually not their own. I truly hate the 180 day comment because it shows the ignorance of those who do not teach. Most teachers start weeks before their students and work for a time after the end of the “school year” for the students. Then they spend their summers working on curriculum development and lesson plans for the coming year whit no additional pay. They work long, unpaid hours before and after school tutoring students who need extra help and grading papers and projects. On top of this most attend graduate level classes to better themselves in their subject so they can stay current and be the best instructors for your children. Add to this that most have to hold down a second job just to make ends meat and you begin to get a picture of the value of a teacher. And while you are putting down what you call teacher entitlements keep in mind that the teachers themselves pay a huge portion of that retirement program and a large portion (getting bigger every year) of their benefits more in fact than most politicians who get better benefits and a much larger pension. So, in the end what teachers think they are entitled to is some respect and wages that will allow them to continue to support their own families while they teach and guide the families of others.

        Reply
        • Steven March 30, 2013, 4:10 pm

          Sandra, I appreciate your post and your passion. However I feel I must say: NEVER let yourself be put into a position where you feel you must defend yourself when you and I both know that you and I don’t. We know what we do and how much we care. Donald and those of his ilk don’t care to hear it anyway. His purpose is to put you on the defensive so he can continue to attack. Don’t.

          Reply
    • Steven March 30, 2013, 4:08 pm

      I’ll get drawn into a fight. Donald, the fact that you even use the word “entitlements” shows how little thought you even give to a subject. You dive in use the lingo provided to you by others and mimic their ideas and words rather than come up with your own thoughts and ideas. Come up with something useful and your own rather than the parroted party line and you’ll be worthy of a discussion. Until then, I’m happy to tell you that you are ignorant. A parrot, an echo, a playback recording of the words and ideas of others. Not a person with a mind that is viable and useful.

      Reply
  • ana radice March 29, 2013, 5:10 pm

    I remember you speaking at the Board of Education meeting and I don’t remember seeing one dry eye in the house! I am also a Paterson teacher and we work our behinds off every day providing more than just a curriculum for our students. I have spent hundreds of dollars every year making sure my students have notebooks, paper, pencils and pens to write with. I buy them Christmas presents and bring in cupcakes for their birthdays. We are so much more than teachers to these children. Most of us are a second parent, a guidance counselor, psychologist, and shoulder to cry on. They appreciate us, but the superintendent and Board of Education do not and that has to change or else all of the efficient teachers will go to another district, and where will that leave the children?

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 5:16 pm

      I completely agree with you! If the teachers continue to get fed up until they quit, as seems to be the hope of the powers that be, then the students are left with only new teachers, and the new teachers are left without mentors. The students will suffer for this. With only 3 minutes to talk, I wanted to stick to just one subject, but I was glad there were so many others at the meeting that spoke about the harm to the students, the mental health of the unappreciated teachers, and the horrible conditions of so many of the schools. Oh, and the excessive testing!!

      Reply
  • mary March 29, 2013, 5:31 pm

    I am glad you spoke up. I am glad you put a face on the financial woes facing Paterson teachers. And while I agree you should have posted that man’s negative opinion, people like him are part of the problem. They believe we are overpaid babysitters.
    I have been teaching in Paterson for 17 years and still have not reached the top of our pay scale. Each month I hope that this contract will be settled. Still hoping and praying. Maybe your words will promote a deal.

    Reply
  • Mom March 29, 2013, 6:22 pm

    I’m proud of you for not letting that person draw you into a fight. I’ll be polite too.

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 6:54 pm

      :^)

      Reply
      • Sandra March 30, 2013, 11:22 am

        I thought I was polite while still expressing my opinion :) Love you guys!

        Reply
  • Jackie March 29, 2013, 8:36 pm

    Kudos to you and God bless your family! I agree with your letter 100%!
    As an educator myself, I planned to work in Paterson -as I was offered a position only a month before Christy flipped the system that affected the urban areas I had hoped to make a difference in.
    Presently, I teach at a private school because I NEED the security of an income and contract… However, the pay is not good and barely able to put a dent into my student loans as a hard working single mom. My intentions were to help educate and impact children’s lives in urban districts but the powers that be are making it almost impossible.
    Something has to change for the better! My oldest is about to graduate as an educator major as well, and how sad it is that she may struggle as you, I and many other educators do in a flawed system based on politics INSTEAD of focusing on the children and keeping valuable leaders intact.. I am still praying for a change SOON. Hang in there!

    Reply
    • Jessie March 29, 2013, 8:43 pm

      Thank you. Maybe things will change come September, it is an election year for our Gov. Who knows, if all the teachers vote for change, it could happen.

      Reply
      • Dr. Hodges March 30, 2013, 3:59 am

        I am one of those school board members that you say don’t care. We listen very carefully to what is said and not said as well. We don’t hear you saying to your PEA leadership that they should give you a contract. We don’t hear you say to them that enough is enough. Contract negotiations are two way streets. The offers must go both ways. There are proposals out there that your leaders won’t accept but could and thus end this situation. Also, the some of the sticking points probably came from Trenton via Governor Christie. And many of the very same teachers crying about the contract voted for Christie which led to this impasse. You teachers need to look inward instead of just pointing fingers at others. We understand hardship. The people of Paterson live with it everyday. Many of the children in your care don’t have homes to lose or hope of college educations. We have to look into their eyes at graduation and realize that what they have received in terms of an education here won’t permit them to become teachers or much else. So I too feel pain. A great deal of it. I listen to the students improper grammar, see them struggle to sign their names, notice their struggles with critical thinking and realize what lies ahead of them in life. We, as board members who live in this city and too often attend their young funerals. We send too many out onto the streets ill-equipped to succeed, let alone survive. Yes there is plenty of pain to go around. So while I feel for your family and understand the burden this situation causes, I suggest that you reach out to your leadership and tell them to SETTLE NOW. Then we can all get back to the real business of making this educational system more effective and successful for the students and staff alike.

        Reply
        • Jessie March 30, 2013, 9:48 am

          I have spent many hours on the phone with the PEA as well, you don’t hear it because I say it to them. However, this meeting the other night was about you, not them. As you know, they can’t tell me what the offers are, only that they keep changing theirs to make it a bit more to your liking, but you never change yours. How is that negotiating? And let’s not forget, the teachers are expected to uphold the previous contract, but you are not. You want them to do everything to the letter and more, but you will not pay them as the contract says. Teachers like my husband do so much for your students. He teaches seniors, and he spends so much time with the kids that do want to go to collage. He writes them letters, helps them with applications, and gives them valuable advice. He also helps with job applications. All in addition to teaching his classes, all above and beyond what the previous contract asks of him. Yet he and so many excellent teachers like him have one foot out the door because you won’t even give them their increments. I am well aware we are much better off then his students. I am aware of the struggles of Paterson, but guess what, you are much better off then us. Expecting us to be happy with what the families in Paterson have is like expecting Dr. Evans to be happy with what we have. When Dr. Evans income drops below $54,000 a year then you can tell me that I am greedy for wanting what the contracts have promised us.

          PS, I did not vote for Christie, and hopefully the teachers who did learned their lesson.

          Reply
        • Carlos March 30, 2013, 5:33 pm

          Dr. Hodges:

          You do not better education in Paterson by denigrating and mistreating the very educators who do the job day-in and day-out. You do not attract top young teaching talent to your district by, the very lifeblood of reform and future progress, by holding up a ‘not wanted’ sign. Be honest, do you think you are going to attract the best and brightest to work in Paterson with how Dr. Evans treats his staff? How you treat the teachers?

          And, why don’t you start asking the hard questions of your community, as education, like contract negotiations, is a two-way street. Because, like you say you don’t hear Jessie and the like contacting the PEA, we don’t hear you contacting your community, being real with them, and working to get them on the right path. We don’t see you telling the truth to the people; failing schools are a product of failing communities. You need to work on getting your own house in order, you need to look in a mirror, before casting stones, and blame, at teachers. If you think improvement is going to come from ‘reforming’ schools for the millionth time, that yet another new curriculum, or more testing, or more paperwork, are going to have serious and lasting impact, then you are sadly mistaken. There are much, much larger factors at play.

          So why don’t you urge Evans/Cerf/Christie to settle, so you can get back to the real business of making your community more effective and successful? So that parents prepare and support their children to receive education. So that parents prioritize education. Change starts at home, Dr. Hodges. Anything else is gimmick.

          Reply
        • NTS April 8, 2013, 2:11 pm

          Dr. Hodges, in reference to your ideas on how we “settle” our contract. Are you kidding? You have sat on the board for how many years? You know all the titles that have been “created” downtown by Dr. Evans.
          You need to re-evaluate your thinking. You want to blame the teachers? When were you ever in a classroom? You talk about the students, their diplomas and then their funerals??
          Time to retire and find a job on Evans staff! Good Luck!!!1

          Reply
  • Michael Shapiro March 30, 2013, 7:41 am

    Hi Jessie – we’d love to publish this letter – it’s important that it be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Please email us at editor@thealternativepress.com to give us permission to do so.

    Thank you –

    Mike Shapiro, Editor
    The Alternative Press of Paterson
    http://www.thealternativepress.com/towns/paterson

    Reply
    • Jessie March 30, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Thank you. Hopefully it helps bring this issue to the public.

      Reply
  • Sue Butterfield March 30, 2013, 10:46 am

    Hi Jessie,

    I am contacting you on behalf of the county union affiliate, Passaic County Education Associations. We would also like to post your letter on our website. You have effectively put a human face to the reality of the Paterson teachers. We would also like to forward your letter to legislators, some of whom are reaching out to us regarding the proposed Evaluation reform and the recent Camden takeover.

    Your letter was eloquent, beautiful, and unfortunately real. Please let me know if we may use it to bring attention to the plight of Paterson teachers.

    Sue Butterfield, 1st Vice-President PCEA
    http://www.pcea1.org

    Reply
    • Jessie March 30, 2013, 11:34 am

      Sue, you may absolutely use my letter. When you are sharing it on line, I prefer you just use a quote or two and then link back to this post ~ some of the comments are really powerful as well! Thank you so much for your help! Feel free to contact me at jessie519@gmail.com anytime.

      Reply
  • Jessie March 31, 2013, 10:04 am

    I have added a request to the end of this post ~ please take a look.

    Reply
  • Glenn April 5, 2013, 5:13 pm

    Not even sure where to begin this rant. I’m so frustrated with both the Union and the District. I’ve been teaching in Paterson for 11 years. Before that I taught in West MIlford for two years. The reason I took the position in Paterson was not because it was a better school district, but because I thought working closer to home would allow me to spend more time with my family. As others, how wrong I was. Instead of spending more time, I spend less and less because of all the stalled contract negotiations I need to work nights and weekends to support the family. While doing this though what has PEA done for me….NOTHING!!! Having us wear pins on our shirts won’t do a damn thing. While at West Milford, we had a stalled contract in my second year. What did we do there…we stopped all after school activities. Within a week parents were so frustrated they put so much pressure on the board that we settled. Ever think of trying this during basketball season Mr. Tirri? My rant about the union can go on further. Teachers are classified as working little. Well guess what…at my school we wanted to work more over Spring Break to make some extra cash to supplement the money we haven’t gotten in three years without increments. However, the good old PEA, had to step in and tell us we were prohibited. We have to obey PEA rules and stick together. Hey Mr. Tirri, why don’t you and all your other high paid individuals at PEA stick together then and supplement my lost money. What have you done all this time besides sent out emails and pins…NOTHING!! It’s time for you to go. As for both sides negotiating fairly I totally agree. I don’t want to be negative but your husband Mr. Rayot, is a huge contributor to us not settling. The high schools are unwilling to work and extra period each day…hello, K-8 works more then the periods you do, so aren’t you willing to sacrifice 45 minutes of one extra period of work, to get a contract done. It’s not like many of you do real work during one prep so do your really need two anyhow. Do people in the business world get both a lunch and a break….NO!! So stop whining, give in some and stop being the lazy people others see us as. Lets work together people. Hope this opens peoples eyes some.

    Reply
    • Jessie April 5, 2013, 5:59 pm

      Thank you for your opinion, but please do not assume to know what my husband stands for or does during his day if I have not told you and you do not know him. I do not know the difference between the elm. school work days and the HS work days, but I do know that my husband and I would be fine with the extra period depending on how it worked (and I have told the PEA such.) Oh, and yes, businesses do get lunch and a break, it is in the labor laws. However, prep periods are not breaks. There are some teachers who use them as such, but by the time you get to HS there is so much homework, tests, reports and so on to grade that the prep periods are really needed for prep and grading. My husband works through those periods, and still has work to bring home.

      Reply
    • Steven April 5, 2013, 7:29 pm

      on what information are you basing your statements on exactly, Mr. Glenn? I’ve heard many people throw words around accepting the fact that if they said them, that makes them fact. Please fill us in more on what you mean. Otherwise, leave the good names of good people out of your feelings about yourself.

      Reply
    • NTS April 8, 2013, 2:20 pm

      The biggest whiner is you! You complained about the same things as others did!!! Must be another reason you left a better school district(in your own words!) to come to Paterson.

      Reply
    • Amy April 8, 2013, 3:19 pm

      Your divisive attitude is part of the problem Glenn. Unless you have worked at one of the high schools in town, I don’t see how you could possibly quantify what we do. Pointing fingers at high school teachers & calling us lazy will not settle the problem. Have you ever tried to grade 125 open-ended questions or research papers? It takes a lot more than 40 minutes. I don’t claim to know what the elementary teachers go through and therefore can’t and don’t judge them, you should think twice about judging those of us at the high school level.

      On a side note- even if we did agree to taking on a 6th class, I really do not think that would lead to a contract. There has to be desire to negotiate with us (ALL of us- elementary & high school educators).

      And Jessie- I cried when I read your letter on your blog. You so eloquently put into words the financial struggles we are going through. Thank you.

      Reply
  • Regan Lefferts April 8, 2013, 9:22 pm

    I teach in Newark, and feel as though you are telling my story! We were also frozen, myself also on the bubble. We were on the fence about a third child, but figured a state employee could count on the contract! Our third was born the year we froze, with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. The time I took for bedrest, post-partum care, and his first 3 surgeries exceeded the 12 weeks guaranteed us by FMLA. So,to add insult to injury, when we did finally settle our contract, they withheld an increment. The contract my miserable contingency allowed to pass is terrible. I also now make much less than I did 4 years ago.

    We have just sold our house in Rockaway. We are leaving NJ. Despite being asked to co-author a professional paper on teaching children mathematics, I am no “highly effective”. What I AM is broke and broken.

    I love your post. Good luck to you.

    Reply
    • Jessie April 8, 2013, 9:42 pm

      This is such a sad story, and an all to common one here in NJ. I truly hope you and your family find much better as your journey continues, and that you find a school district that values you.

      Reply
  • Erica April 8, 2013, 9:40 pm

    Jessie, your letter brought me to tears. I do believe the high school staff is taking a hard line about not doing a 6th class for one simple reason. Taking a 6th class would allow the district to dismiss teachers in each subject area! If 5 math teachers each take a sixth class, one math teacher can be fired. We do not want to see our colleagues lose their jobs!

    Reply
  • Swimr4 April 8, 2013, 10:01 pm

    @ Dr. Hodges:
    I love my students in Paterson. I don’t feel bad that I own a home and many of them don’t. Do you know HOW I came to own my home? I WORKED my ass off for years to scrape together a down payment. I went without new clothes and drove an old car and clipped coupons and WORKED hard for what I have. I don’t think that anyone should make me feel guilty for the hard work I did to accomplish my goals.
    You also said that you feel sorry for the students at graduation. Have you actually VISITED a high school classroom lately? Yes, admittedly there are some students who struggle and will most likely not go to college. It’s also important to remember that college is not for everyone. If EVERYONE went to college who would fix cars and put out fires and fix our houses? BUT, in front of me EVERY DAY there are dozens of bright and ambitious young adults who WILL go to college, trade school or the armed services and I know in my heart that they WILL be successful. Some have loving and supportive families, while others will succeed despite their lack of parental support. As a resident of Paterson, I would think you would know better than to take such a “woe is me, we’re so poor” attitude. There are SO many talented and wonderful students in my room every day. I can’t believe you’ve never seen them, or met them, or spoke with them .

    Lastly, while I feel for any parent who loses a child, I don’t think that teachers earning what is FAIR and being able to support our families has anything to do with that. We have been without a contract for 3 years. During that time, WE, the teachers, have been following, what is essentially a defunct document. We come to school on time, complete all the testing and paperwork that is required, show up to class on time and basically follow the rules. The Board, on the other hand, chooses NOT to uphold the same standards and to BULLY the teachers by withholding money that is rightfully OURS. I wonder how YOU would feel if your job decided to stop increasing YOUR pay, and you couldn’t pay your mortgage or get braces for your children.

    Reply
  • Michelle April 9, 2013, 5:47 am

    Ok…I thought I’d keep quiet after Donald’s post but my “Irish” is getting the better of me! For everyone’s clarification, as a teacher, I DO NOT ONLY WORK 10 MONTHS OUT OF THE YEAR (nor does any teacher I ever met!) We plan and work all summer so that those of you who entrust your most precious possessions to our care for 10 months aren’t doing so in vain. All this posturing that “teachers only work 10 months..” is a crock. The majority of teachers work in summer because their “real” job doesn’t provide them enough to live on! I am working two jobs right now just to make ends not meet!

    Reply
  • Sophia June 15, 2013, 9:49 am

    I taught in the district for 9 years and decided to resign last year because of the same gripes posted above! Was it the right decision? Well, I can say that I am struggling more now than I was at Paterson only because the economy is so poor! Who wants to hire a teacher with 9-10 years experience and 2 Master Degrees when they can hire someone right out of college for less money?! My point is people feel stuck! We usually “don’t just leave” because unfortunately it is a bad time for teachers with education and experience to find something else. So instead, we sit there working before school, after school, with cockroaches crawling past our feet, mice and rat feces decorating our half-broken desks, mold and god knows what else making the paint on the wall boil, get less money than we did years ago, get bounced around the district like ping pong balls, yet are accountable for MORE AND MORE! Sounds perfectly fair to me!!!! I was one person that did actually “get out” but that doesn’t mean everyone has the luxury of doing so.

    Reply
    • Jessie June 15, 2013, 10:58 am

      Thank you for sharing that, Sophia. I hope you find something better soon. It is a scary situation to be in. Good luck!

      Reply
Craftsy
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