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Letter: Proposed contract is insulting to teachers

Proposed contract is insulting to teachers

Anyone can make allegations about the Buffalo teachers’ contract being the best package in this region. However, it is common sense that the last pay scale that was negotiated in 2003-04 is not still a good wage in 2016. Buffalo teachers 13 years ago at any level make exactly the same amount of money that they do today, or less, depending on whether or not they were affected by the three-year wage freeze.

The cost of a state education has doubled. The cost of a private education has almost tripled and the cost of rent and housing has more than doubled in some areas in Buffalo. Yet a Buffalo teacher’s salary has remained the exact same. And if the benefit package is so superior, why are teachers reimbursed a mere $1,000 if they elect not to take the health insurance, when other municipalities are paid upward of $8,000?

To simplify it further, a first-year teacher with a master’s degree earns $32,700. Without debt, that teacher qualifies for an $800 a month apartment (a rare find in Buffalo today.) With student loans, this teacher must work another job and/or live at home.

It is ironic that the same rhetoric that merits top pay for our school superintendent (an impoverished, struggling population) is the exact same rhetoric that is used to justify the lowest teacher salary in Western New York. Is there any wonder why young people of color are not “called” to the profession? Could it be rather than rewarding teachers for servicing a challenging population, we are vilified for wanting equitable pay and a current contract?

A 10 percent raise over 13 years is an insult. Not putting teachers on their correct step is an insult. Not giving teachers their back pay is an insult. Personally, I am tired of defending our position. If the board wants to act in a despotic manner, so be it; but be honest to the public, the parents, the students and future teachers.

Catherine Breen

West Seneca

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