Friday, September 19, 2008


There are many events in life that you don't get a do-over for, like losing your virginity or driving yourself somewhere all by yourself (or even better, with a car load of friends) once you've passed your driving test. And I guess that's ok, or at least it will just have to be ok, until we build time machines. Today though, Natalie got a do-over on the first day of school pictures. Our teachers voted yesterday afternoon to enter into non-binding arbitration early, so school opened today. It was good first day of school weather, nice and cool, which enabled Natalie to wear this on her first real day of first grade:

And then while at school during lunch, she lost yet another tooth. The Tooth Fairy is going broke people! I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, since I'm too much of a cynic, but I'm going to try to be optimistic this time around and believe that our teachers will not return to the picket line. I realize that's the only leverage they've got and all, and I realize that the public is indeed not getting the full story from both sides in this fiasco. I am grateful that both sides realized what a public relations nightmare this was all becoming and decided to make some concessions in order to get the contract talks started up again. Let's keep our fingers crossed, right?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Strike Update Day 5

Some asshole (clearly a teacher here who just got his COBRA bill in the mail) actually implied I was bitter and some sort of loser still studying for a GED because I thought his grousing about a 5% raise only allowing him to break even after paying for COBRA was namby-pamby.

Here's what he said: (my response in red)

"Boo hoo" How old are you? I'm 30 You really must be an angry person No, not really. I'm actually very happy with my life. with nothing to live for. Oooooh, wrong again! I have two kids, a great family, really awesome friends, a job I can get my teeth into, maybe a man or two on the horizon. What's wrong - still trying to pass the test gfor your GED? Nope, I'm a proud 1996 graduate of Lansdale Catholic High School. Teacher yell at you when you were a kid? No, not really. I was generally a good student, a good listener, and most certainly, a model citizen. Couldn't cut it to become a teacher? I have no desire to be an educator, so I suppose yes, you are right about something, I couldn't cut it to become a teacher."Ye shall..." Who cares what you think. I seem to have hit a nerve with you (and you're missing the correct punctuation there too Jerry) . . . .
Jerry Mc, Tylersport, PA

I sure do hope he's retired by the time Natalie gets him! LMAO! This morning, there was a mass picket at Natalie's school. I drove past a Lincoln Navigator, a BMW X3 SUV (ok, ok, somebody is slumming and only could afford the 3 series), a Mini Cooper, a Toyota FJ Cruiser, a big ass Ford crew cab pick up, an Acura sedan and numerous other shiny new cars. I assume these vehicles belong to our teachers, since the strike has started, they've been forced to park on the streets surrounding the area schools, as they are not permitted to use the school lots during the strike. Evidence also pointing to the cars belonging to the teachers is that nobody ever parks their car on this end of West Broad Street. Next meeting between the two sides is Thursday, I doubt we'll hear anything new or interesting, other than that the venue they've chosen for this meeting (the junior high) will be far too small for everybody who wants to attend to actually get into.

Tomorrow, I'm taking pictures. Smile & wave people, smile & wave.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Strike Update - Day 4

The teachers' union & the school board met today with the state mediator for a whopping HOUR, and of course got nothing accomplished, other than agreeing to call it quits after 60 minutes and neither side budging from their positions. Natalie made an elephant on paper, traced over her drawing with glue and sprinkled colored sand on it. She also ate lunch, played in the gym and when I came to pick her up was deeply involved with building blocks. It's all well and good, and she certainly enjoys those activities, but I had hoped that she'd have gotten to meet her teacher and talked about her classroom and her classmates by now. The date of September 24th is when the teachers must return to the classroom in order to get 180 days of school in by June 30th. Naturally, September 24th is the day that I have to pull Natalie out of school for the entire day for a dentist appointment in the morning and a cardiology appiontment in the afternoon. I had scheduled both appointments months ago, with the expectation that she would have had 3 1/2 weeks of school under her belt by then, but it's looking and sounding more and more like she's going to miss the first day of school, again. Heaven help me if I hear one utterance from the school or the teacher about the importance of instruction time and it being vital to the success of the student. Wouldn't that just take the cake? Ha!

Apparently, another sore spot in all this hullabaloo is over the medical coverage for the employees of the teachers' union. Their benefits have been suspended for the moment and they now have coverage under COBRA (which requires paying out of pocket for coverage). The rumor mill is hard at work, churning out all sorts of baloney and blurbs of questionable material. I heard one today, that a teacher's child was turned away at the ER over lack of health insurance. I take into question whether or not this a true account. I mean, every hospital I've been in recently (particularly our local hospital, Garrett & I spent 4 days there last month) has big signs up in the ER saying that people will not be turned away or treated based on their ability to pay. That's a law, if I recall correctly. Particuarly in an ER, where the goal of the doctors and nurses there is to stabilize, treat & release or admit, patients. In any case, typically, when one quits their job, or is fired, or in this instance, stops working because of a strike, they lose their benefits and that's that. I mean, that's what happens in the real world anyway. But out in the real world, people aren't demanding 8% raises and asking to contribute less towards their health plans either.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back To School

Yesterday was the first day of school for the kids. Garrett went off to pre-k and was thrilled to death to find a Woody & a Jessie from the Toy Story movies in his classroom. I sure do hope the other kids don't care about Woody & Jessie because I have a feeling Garrett probably didn't put them down. His second day was today, slightly more aprehensive about going & staying in his classroom, though his teacher got him involved in putting his crayons in his pencil box and I was able to slowly back out of the room. I anticipate problems tomorrow. Natalie should be in the first grade this year, but since the teachers in this school district (that would be the SOUDERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA) are all a bunch of lame-os and have opted to strike this year, her school year has not officially started. She gets to play all day long with the YMCA Kids Kare program being held at her school. It's disappointing, because she is SO excited to begin first grade, and this is just prolonging it for her. The longest our horribly underpaid teachers can be out for is 3 1/2 weeks before non-binding arbitration goes into effect thus forcing them to return to the classroom, contract or not. I have a feeling they're going to be out for that time frame, only because contract talks broke down after 6 hours on Monday and no new negoitation meetings have been scheduled. It seems as though the teachers here in this district would like to be paid on par with the average teacher in Montgomery County. It does not seem as though they are taking into consideration the differences in the tax base here, compared to the other surrounding school districts. This community is mostly residential, and of all the new development in these parts, it is primarly residential, with a strong concentration of 55 + communities. In order to pay the teachers the average going rate, we're talking about an 8% increase each year for 5 years, which amounts to something like $25K at the entry level. The school board proposed a much more moderate 2 1/2 % raise, which was naturally balked at, and here we are. While 2 1/2% is not at all 8%, if my employer was willing to offer me that raise each year, for 5 years, I'd take it!