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CNN features Buffalo teachers' cosmetic surgery rider

Not long ago, the Atlantic did a story on the cosmetic surgery rider that Buffalo teachers have.

On Monday, CNN continued to shine the national spotlight on a story that we reported extensively a year and a half ago ("Cosmetic surgery dearly costs city schools," "Saving face(s): Cosmetic surgery costs for school employees skyrocket," "Cosmetic surgery rider was saved once," and more.)

CNN's Gary Tuchman talks to plastic surgeon Kulwant Bhangoo, who gets the lion's share of business from Buffalo teachers; School Board President Lou Petrucci; Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore; teacher Valerie Akauola, who had surgery after losing 150 pounds; and second-grade teacher Linda Tokarz, who says she gets regular treatments of some sort.

The piece on Anderson Cooper's show, "Teachers nip, tuck for free," recaps what we already know: Buffalo teachers have the cosmetic surgery rider; teachers pay nothing for procedures; taxpayers pick up the full tab; last year, it cost about $5.9 million; the district wants the union to waive the benefit as a gesture of goodwill; the union is willing to get rid of the rider, but only through contract negotiations; the contract expired nearly eight years ago.

While this is news to national viewers, it's rather familiar to those of us in Buffalo.

But what might be most noteworthy to us locally is the fact that, after significant local media attention on this issue a year and a half ago, pretty much nothing has changed.

Teachers still have the benefit. The union is still willing to get rid of it, in negotiations. And the union and the district still seem nowhere close to hammering out a new contract.

Here's the clip from CNN:

- Mary Pasciak

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