New Jersey Teachers

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, on how budget cuts would affect teachers in New Jersey public schools.


Barbara Keshishian

Comments [46]

John Donaldson from Rice Lake WI


Apr. 22 2010 04:47 PM
tomas from east hanover

marcia and larry are comical at best. their comment regarding the wage earners of $4000,00 they represent only 1% of popoulation and pay 40% of taxes, and does anyone else but union memebers pay the other 60%, as they would like us to believe, why not tell the whole truth nit just talking points so we can resolve issues, we should rank the amoung the highest our teachers are paid amoung the highest, some of your union leaders make 500,000 per year value? paeople are losing their jobs and you cant accept a pay freeze one year/

Apr. 19 2010 09:29 AM
Marcia and Larry from Bergen County

Per your recent show with NJEA President, I was wondering if you planned on asking sharp questions of Gov. Christie? If so, these are a few that rank and file teachers in New Jersey might like to have answered by our governor:
1) Why is he urging residents to vote down school budgets?
2) Pay freezes and layoffs will not restore state aide, will they?
3) To make the public sector more like the private, will there be a bonus for teachers when times are good for the best in the nation schools?
4) Isn't this all just your desire to break the union?
5) If the union is the problem, why does NJ rank among the very best schools in the nation year after year?
6) You treat teachers as if they suck up state money and contribute no service, invest nothing and pay back in no way to NJ's well being and future. Why?
7) Would he or Brett Schundler become a teacher? Why or why not?
8) People earning over $400,000 pay 40% of taxes in NJ. Who pays the other 60%? Teachers and other public employees.
This list can go on and on. It would be nice if you, the press held his feet to the fire the way that teachers have had to answer for their paychecks. Remember, no bonus when times are good, but plenty of hell-giving when times are bad. Remember, teachers are characterized as lazy, overpaid, corrupt people, consuming tax payer money with abandon. Makes you wonder how NJ has some of the best in the nation schools?
As a WNYC listener, I am concerned that Governor Christie’s claims have gone unchallenged. What is your part in the media’s role as the watch-dog of government? Has WNYC, or any other news agency for that matter, even investigated teacher-contracts in New Jersey? If they have, then they will see that pay raises are generally 3%, not the 5% Governor Christie claims. These percentages are also spread across the salary guide. Also, many local newspapers in New Jersey keep mentioning teacher salaries of over $100k a year. I know of, at best, 2 teachers who earn this much in my district. If teachers were raking it in, so to speak, wouldn’t everyone want to do this? Only a few years back, on either your show or the Leonard Lopate Show, there was a segment on the prosperity of the 1990’s, but how this had not translated into wage increases for American workers. Salaries, in the era of NAFTA, were described as a “race to the bottom.” Is this what we are looking for? To eliminate any profession where people earn a decent wage and receive benefits where they could possibly not be bankrupted by a catastrophic illness? If that’s what it has come to, then shame on my neighbors and on the media. Where is the concern for the common good that teachers go into classrooms teaching each and every day?

Apr. 14 2010 09:10 PM
annaG from Passaic County

Ms. Keshishian failed to mention that there is a wide disparity in teacher salaries throughout the state of NJ. While some teachers may be able to agree to a salary freeze,many others cannot.
As to Gov Christie,his single focused,aggressive stance towards teachers and their association,i is not only unstatesman-like but more befitting to a bull ring than the Statehouse.

Apr. 14 2010 08:26 PM

I'm a parent. I like fiscal responsibility. But our school already runs lean. Next fall, the K classes in will lose their teachers' aides leaving one adult alone w/ 18-20+ semi-potty trained kids for 6 hours a day. How does saving those salaries make sense?

Apr. 14 2010 03:50 PM

Calls' cut those jobs - maybe they could just let U to run everything.
would that make u happy?

Apr. 14 2010 03:08 PM
linda from NJ

In our district, faculty was also asked to give up their "step" when the wage freeze vote was called (they had one afternoon's notice). That is a very big deal. However, at the budget presentation, all we were told was that the teachers voted no, not the big picture. . .

When the Christmas bonuses are flowing, no one in the private sector would deign to go into teaching. They probably had that choice in their past and there are plenty of opportunities through the alternate route program. so, bring it on folks if it's such a wondrously overcompensated profession!

Apr. 14 2010 02:08 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from here, there and everywhere

Lol. Had a conservative official or group posted a similar e-mail about Obama, the mainstream and liberal media would have exploded with outrage and that person would have been fired if not arrested. What a double standard.

Most of the media including this station has miserably failed at being an objective gate keeper of the news - a role that is critical to a stable democracy. Shame on you.

All states and the fed should immediately cut all salaries of government workers except the military and LE by 5 - 20%, depending on how much the employee makes. This includes all elected officials, too. If the unions don't go along, then fire some of them to make the cuts. Many a great writer, artist, doctor, lawyer, engineer, scientist, teacher, entrepreneur was schooled in a one room schoolhouse. Having a few more kids in each classroom isn’t going to hurt anyone and the teacher unions know it. It’s all about whose ox is being gored. In this sustained Obama recession, the people need a big break from the tax man.

Apr. 14 2010 11:15 AM
artista from greenpoint

really disappointed Brian took the low road, focusing on a silly, snarky email 'prayer" that is clearly tongue in cheek, sensationalizing an important issue with a sideshow. The context too is important: the teachers have not been known to breathe fire & heap insult on those who want to demonize them in the fight to , oh, say, keep the many rich New Jerseyans from paying their fair share, so no comparison there to the deep, dark hatred,directed, with Fox amplification, at the president & democratic representatives. (Plus, Christie began the fight, verbally assaulting NJ teachers of which I am not one.)
Give only cops & firefighters pensions? Proving that our kids deserve no coddled staff? really? Ok, it's your kids! The stable health & pension benefits are part of the salary negotiations & used to be merely what the private sector got. The fact is that the end of a generally unionized workforce and the Repubican-led attack on unions and public sector workers & pensions has made life in the private sector more precarious. But instead of wanting to strengthen unions, which were responsible foe the general rise in fortunes of the middle class (and the decline of unions correlated with the stagnation of m-c wages), people in the labor force see the attack on collective bargaining as somehow a good thing for them?
Classic failure to recognize what would be in their own best interest, namely unions for all middle-class workers.

Apr. 14 2010 11:13 AM
JOE WEINSTEIN from wayne, nj

what should also be addressed is the large disparity in pay scales in the numerous school districts asking everyone to freeze their salaries is not equitable.

Apr. 14 2010 11:00 AM
Waldo from NYC

Brian - I've never heard you come out against the "prayer" with Obama's name inserted. I take that as your tacit approval of it. Or is it that it's OK to "pray" for sending a black man to join Billy Mays but not OK to "pray" to send a fat white guy to join Billy. BTW, Christie looks like he weighs somthing in excess of 300 pounds -- he probably doesn't need anyone to "pray" for his demise.
And, btw, your new snarky questioning tactic is boring and [unflattering term deleted] -- thank you, G-d, for WQXR.

Apr. 14 2010 10:56 AM
Paul from Ridgewood NJ

Ms. Keshishian falls into the same trap, when told that teachers do not pay into their health care plan (whether true or not): Health benefits are PART OF THEIR COMPENSATION PACKAGE. As such, all teachers (all employees with health care) contribute to their health plans. Period!

Apr. 14 2010 10:54 AM

(To SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side
How clever of Christie to demonize teachers and pit them against their communities...)

I definitely blame the media for choosing to take Christie's bait. Boringly predictable but there must be some exceptional journalists out there working hard to explore the real issues here.

Apr. 14 2010 10:53 AM
BJK from NYC

I imagine that a similare comment has already been posted, if not the realization is certainly clear, that if the head of that teacher's local had been working in private industry, and made such a threatening comment, he would have been given an hour to clear out his desk, end of story.
From salaried, gold-plated health and retirement, there is no reflection or accounting or current economic realities of every other type of employee.

Apr. 14 2010 10:51 AM

in recent decades most real worker compensation has stagnated or even slipped. should those who avoided the race to the bottom be forced to join it now or serve as an example to other workers?

Apr. 14 2010 10:50 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Brian, why are you trying to trap this woman with these questions?? She said what she had to say what purpose is served by making her look bad with increasingly apocalyptic scenarios. The Obama scenario was completely uncalled for. Can we not imagine Obama in these unthinkable situations -- even hypothetically?

Apr. 14 2010 10:49 AM

"No pensions" ...why them

Apr. 14 2010 10:48 AM

WHAT ARE HER IDEAS? I doubt anyone cares about this sideshow tabloid you think there is something about it to break? so far yawn.

Apr. 14 2010 10:48 AM

I continually amazed by Americans - who have some of the lowest tax rates in the industrial world - constantly complaining by how high their taxes are. As the guest noted, when times were good, the same people complaining about overpaid teacher now were STILL complaining.

No complaints then or now from that brigade over the obscene pay for Wall Streeters and other execs who have only seen increases in pay.

Apr. 14 2010 10:47 AM

do you hate teachers, Brian? It is certainly sounds like it.

Apr. 14 2010 10:47 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

Oh, I'm referring to the "death threat," by the way.

Apr. 14 2010 10:46 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

I'm LOVING that Brian won't let this go - these are the people who are teaching our children, for Pete's sake!

Apr. 14 2010 10:46 AM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington, NY

Robert, you don't have to fire "lesser talented teachers," you just have to institute a program called Cognitive Coaching, a mentoring program where teachers help teachers. Just can't seem to get Administrative officials to institute these programs. My husband has been teaching for 44 years and is now running this program in his school, and he says he's doing the best teaching of his career.

Apr. 14 2010 10:46 AM

and...besides Brian, the President is the President, different set of circumstances

Apr. 14 2010 10:45 AM
JP from NJ

Brian Its a union, you cant fire anybody.

Apr. 14 2010 10:45 AM
a goof

this woman sounds like a goof and not credible in my opinion.

Apr. 14 2010 10:45 AM
Leslie from Jersey City

Does your guest worry that if the public unions do not help the state they risk losing everything in a default?

Apr. 14 2010 10:44 AM

Two issues in NJ that should have been addressed long ago:
1. The 600+ separate school districts and the many overlapping layers of local government.
2. The absurdly low state gasoline tax.

Apr. 14 2010 10:44 AM
jade from Hudson County

Infuriated by the comparison of public and private sector!! I'm generally a union supporter, but this makes me want to support Christie. How dare they set themselves apart.

Apr. 14 2010 10:44 AM

Why can't teachers take a pay freeze just like those who have had pay freezes for the last two years (if they even have a job)?

Apr. 14 2010 10:44 AM
NealnNYC from NYC

Isn't a huge part of NJ's problem that they refuse to combine townships? Having 600 school districts is never going to work.

Apr. 14 2010 10:44 AM
Keith Bull

Governor Christie has chosen the teachers' union as his target. He has cast NJ as a two-tier state; those in the teachers' union and those not.

The propaganda against the teachers' union should be seen as part of the continuing, broader, conservative-led movement against unions, living wages, national health insurance and other social advances.

The surprise in this decades-old argument is that unorganized workers side with the administration and employers rather than vigorously agitating for better wages and health insurance for all workers.

Apr. 14 2010 10:43 AM
JP from NJ

Please inform the guest that in the last 10 years our wages (private sector) on average have not changed, certainly not 4% a year.

Apr. 14 2010 10:43 AM
No pensions

All states seem to be willing to raid or underfund their pension systems. The thing to do is eliminate pensions for everyone except cops and firefighters.

Apr. 14 2010 10:43 AM

if schools should be cut like businesses how about a 4 day school week.

Apr. 14 2010 10:43 AM

YES your guest is right on with that answer re: public and private sector!! I'm not a public employee, but why don't they get to benefit when the private sector is rolling in cash? It's only during hard times the private sector suddenly becomes all judgmental.

Apr. 14 2010 10:42 AM
JP from NJ

Attract the best and the brightest? Please ask how that statement is any different then what is said about justifying high pay on Wall Street? With nobody hiring anywhere due to local budgets tanking all over the country, where are the best and the brightest going if they snub NJ for a teaching job?

Apr. 14 2010 10:40 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

How clever of Christie to demonize teachers and pit them against their communities. So the discussion is not about his policies; it's about why the teacher's won't save their districts by earning less. And what about the fact that he's cutting taxes for people who earn over 400K. So all NJ residents have make sacrifices except the very rich.

Apr. 14 2010 10:39 AM
jc from Central New Jersey

Barbara, you convinced me to vote against the budget.

Apr. 14 2010 10:39 AM
Paige from Point Pleasant NJ

Teachers need to support the rest of us in New Jersey by joining us in sacrificing to meet the needs of NJ. A one year pay freeze is small compared to the many of us who have had there pay decreased, benefits canceled, etc. My business took a 50% loss because of the economic crisis, but I am still willing to do what is necessary to repair the damage done in NJ. Barbara and the union needs to get in touch with the reality of NJ and with the sacrifices their neighbors are making.

Apr. 14 2010 10:39 AM

In most cases, teachers deserve a 5% increase every year. Why should teacher's bear the brunt of bad fiscal planning by the politicians in Trenton or in Albany? Are Wall Street or Mainstreet bankers going to agree to a wage freeze or give up their bonuses? Even though they caused the economic collapse. Get real!

Apr. 14 2010 10:38 AM

The guest states that higher salaries are required to attract "the best and the brightest" to the field. Is she willing to negotiate contracts that would allow lesser talented teachers to be replaced by these new better and brighter candidates that higher wages would attract?

Apr. 14 2010 10:38 AM
smidely from nj

re that letter "christie is my favorite governor" i guess you have to be jersey (or old school new york city).

that is not just funny but a classic joke, regardless of who is the butt of it (or should I say in this case, butttttt)

Apr. 14 2010 10:35 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Go Christie !!!!

Is it just a coincidence that the decline in our public school systems began just after the advent of the teachers' unions nationwide?

Apr. 14 2010 10:31 AM

what about cutting administration. that's why the property taxes are so high. how many school district are there in NJ? seems like a lot.

Apr. 14 2010 10:09 AM
jjl from Som Cty NJ

(to the guest)
do you think it is appropriate for academic teachers to even be dealing with budgetary matters? If so:

Can you think of alternative places for state to cut to help meet budget needs?

Or new ways of making revenue?

Or additional tasks that can be performed by teachers and other salaried employees that would help meet budget needs?

Apr. 14 2010 09:41 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.