Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FL Teachers Required to Work Longer Without Compensation?

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
Modern School has covered several of the ways that No Child Left Behind and the testing/accountability mania benefit private business (see here, here and here), such as forcing schools to convert to charter schools, hiring private tutors and increasing purchases of canned curriculum and test preparation materials. Florida is on the verge of implementing a new backdoor gift to private education profiteers: using state tests to increase workloads, thus decreasing hourly wages for teachers.

As wages and working conditions deteriorate at traditional public schools, they start to look more and more like private, for-profit charter schools, where unions are rare and working conditions and pay have always tended to be poor.  Not only does this make it harder for the traditional public schools to hire and retain the best teachers, thus harming students by depriving them of quality teachers, it allows the bottom-feeding charters to continue paying poorly and demanding longer hours, which helps their bottom line.

The Florida state legislature passed a law in March, the Huffington Post reports, that requires the 100 lowest-performing schools on the reading FCAT test to provide an additional hour of reading instruction each day. Considering that this extra hour is over and beyond their normal work day, teachers should be recompensed at an overtime rate of at least time and a half. Yet there is no guarantee that they will even be paid their normal hourly rate.

The state supposedly has earmarked $30 million to pay teachers. However, according to Karen Aronowitz of United Teachers of Dade, this is not enough to cover all the affected teachers’ actual hourly rate. According to the Palm Beach Post, their district, alone, will require $7-8 million to cover the new program. Miami-Dade is expected to suck an additional $3 million for the program, leaving only $19-20 million for the rest of the state.

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