Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00
Carle Place teachers are taxpayers too. We understand and share in the frustration that some community members feel over rising school taxes and the slow pace of Long Island’s economic recovery.
At the same time, Carle Place teachers are not immune to those same rising costs. We, too, are paying more for health insurance, prescription drugs, gasoline at the pump, and, yes, even property taxes. Teachers have car payments, mortgages and college tuition bills — or student loans — to worry over, just like so many other families in Carle Place, Westbury and nearby communities.
The hundreds of educators throughout Long Island who gathered for Thursday’s rally had a simple message: It’s time to treat Carle Place teachers fairly.
Carle Place teachers — the ones holding signs and chanting, supported by a sea of supportive colleagues from throughout Long Island — do a terrific job every single day for our community’s children. Carle Place is ranked among the very top of school districts in New York State and, according to U.S. News and World Report, is one of the highest-achieving districts in the entire nation. The most recent New York State School Report Card tells an indisputable story of academic excellence: a 100 percent graduation rate; 98 percent of students earning Regents’ diplomas and 96 percent enrolling in college. Among Carle Place’s highly dedicated teaching staff, fully two-thirds have earned at least 30 graduate credits beyond the required master’s degree and a few have doctorates.
This strong foundation of teaching excellence — when combined with Carle Place’s terrific parents, supportive community and hard-working students — helps make our school district a special place for students to learn and grow.
And, yet, now the school board wants to jeopardize the results of this wonderful combination. Teachers in Carle Place are now working for a third year under the terms of an expired labor agreement. For the most experienced teachers, that means no raises. Instead of negotiating a fair agreement — one that’s not a penny more, but also not a penny less than the community can afford — the Board of Education has swallowed bad legal advice from its high-priced lawyers and is picking a divisive and unnecessary fight. The school board is showing disrespect and disdain for the professionals upon whom the Carle Place parents rely to help their children become critical, productive thinkers ready to enter college and, later, the workplace.
Carle Place teachers are only asking for a fair agreement that recognizes the challenges and demands of teaching and living on Long Island. Teachers in their first year in the classroom, those who are highly experienced professionals and those yet to be hired, all deserve salaries and benefits at least on par with what other Long Island districts are paying their accomplished professionals.
Good salaries and fair raises are what help attract the best teachers to places like Carle Place — and keep them there. Enlightened communities know they can’t afford to skimp on salaries. They know that investing in great teachers is the same as investing in their children’s futures.
The Carle Place Board of Education can’t have it both ways. If it wants terrific teachers breathing life into enriching academic programs and a nationally recognized school district that lifts everyone’s property values, then it should recognize the importance of paying competitive salaries to the professionals who make the community’s schools worth praising.
Great teachers — like the ones in Carle Place — should be honored and celebrated, not treated like widgets on an assembly line. Too bad the school board can’t see that.
Carol Kilgallin, President of the Carle Place Teachers’ Association