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Editorial: The City Honors privilege

In what surely ranks as one of the most frivolous debates ever in Western New York, Buffalo education leaders are at daggers on whether teachers at City Honors should have to pull hallway duty.

The answer is yes.

Somehow, though, teachers at City Honors believe they should be exempt from non-teaching duties. This is actually an argument between the district and teacher’s union. Really. Both sides have gone to court. Taxpayer money has been spent.

Unless there is some resolution, several teachers will be transferred. Classes curbed and cut: English, math, band and orchestra. In addition, an instructional coach will be cut, as will half a school counselor position – all so the district can hire extra staff for these “non-teaching” duties. The price tag is more than a half-million dollars.

Teachers working in other schools must be fuming. They not only have to monitor hallways and staff study halls, some have recycling duty. At City Honors teachers do not have to engage in such activities. There, evidently, they are intolerably onerous.

The argument is reminiscent of another, this one involving the stratification of students rather than teachers. Some are lucky enough to snag a seat at City Honors, while others don’t make the cut. The difference, research has shown, has nothing to do with fairness.

Some practices rooted in history just need to end. The exemption at City Honors is one. Only at that school have teachers been excused from non-teaching duties. Nice work if you can get it.

Back in 2010, the district eliminated the coveted exemption for teachers. That’s when the union filed a grievance that was settled by an arbitrator in the union’s favor 2016. That ruling was upheld in State Supreme Court.

In response, the school district has offered teachers at City Honors $1,000 for each year they performed non-teaching duties over the seven years since the grievance was filed. As part of that proposal, teachers would have to agree to handle non-teaching duties going forward.

The district also agreed to give teachers only one non-teaching duty, in addition to not reducing the number of teachers at the school.

The union, for its part, is insisting that teachers not be required to do hall sweeps or recycling duty. They would deign to handle lunch and study hall, but only on a voluntary basis. And, the union says, teachers should receive an annual stipend of about $3,000 for monitoring lunch periods during the school year.

The sides are still at loggerheads and at risk: 5.5 teaching positions. Any teachers cut from City Honors will be transferred to other district schools where, we assume, they will have to perform hall sweeps and recycling duty.

Shocking.

This is a preposterous waste of time and money. And, once again, students are the losers.

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