Dallas Teachers Are Mad They Won't Get Paid Extra for Parent Conferences. Should They?

Mike Miles DIsd.jpg
New DISD supe Mike Miles
Dallas ISD's teachers are feeling beaten down, their union rep told me this morning: "Physically, emotionally and financially." The latest blow, she said: no longer getting paid for time they spend at after-school conferences with parents.

The News' Matthew Haag had the story last night: DISD teachers used to get paid for the eight hours they spend over two evenings meeting with their students' moms and dads. But those two four-hour sessions, once combined to count as a "professional development" day, are now just tacked onto the end of the instructional day.

"It just kind of goes to what the teachers are feeling ... [that] there's no respect for being the professionals they are," local union president Rena Honea said. "They know that it's important, but it's like, We have to do this because they say we do. Normally they would be compensated for that time. Now there's just an expectation you do it or you're in trouble for it if you don't."

Honea said the calendar change wasn't communicated to her or to the teachers directly. And it isn't the only such change that has them frustrated, she said. A stretch of five pre-school-year prep days was cut down to two this fall, she said, with most of the remaining time filled with meetings. That left teachers, many of whom had changed grade levels or even changed buildings, with no time to prep their new classrooms.

"They weren't valued enough to be given time to do that," she said. "They were expected to use their personal time. The employees just feel not valued at all."

District spokesman Jon Dahlander acknowledged the changes. He said an ongoing focus of the school board -- which predated the arrival of superintendent Mike Miles -- has been to maximize the amount of time teachers spend with their kids, in the classroom, teaching. But whether the changes predate Miles or not, they're obviously seen by teachers as part of Miles' aggressive, reform-minded playbook.

It's an approach some observers surely welcome: Most salaried workers don't get paid overtime for staying late for a meeting, the logic goes. Why should teachers?

But it's the speed of the changes, the lack of dialogue, and the general sense of not being as valued as they once were that has teachers on edge, Honea said.

"They're not afraid of accountability, they're not afraid of doing their jobs," she said, but:
"It's been a very rough year -- so many changes all at once."


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29 comments
brianbass1
brianbass1

Why can't the district make teachers happy? Is that too much to ask? If teachers need time to prepare give it to them. If they need dinner before working an extra four hours give it to them. If teachers need to work more hours than usual, pay them for it. The district needs to make teachers happy. Would you want a tired, overworked, resentful and underpaid teacher teaching your kids? Maybe if the teachers welfare were a top priority Dallas would be a much happier and smarter place.

StupidRules
StupidRules

I say FEED THE TEACHERS!!! Y'all not getting it. There's nothing wrong with food as an incentive for parents and students to come to parent conference night. If the school has resources or sponsors then why not. Y'all are making it uptight for principals to be creative and to manage schools because of stupid rules.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

demanding workers work extra hours unpaid, even cost Walmart.  Now there's certainly a difference between hourly and salaried employees.  But Miles' continuing insistence that teacher work "extra hours" without compensation could be a lawsuit waiting to happen.  The district would be well served to choose their wording more carefully. 

IdeasExchange
IdeasExchange

Is there really a policy now that principals cannot spend campus funds for teacher lunches and food? I heard the principal at North Dallas High provided dinner for all teachers and staff and students and parents during parent conference night. Is she now in trouble for not following policy? I guess good deeds nowadays will land DISD principals in hot water.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

This headline is very misleading. I hope it wasn't intentional Mr. Tone. Teachers are upset that the district added an extra day to their contracts without paying for it. In addition, Miles forbid principals from buying box lunches for their staff on parent teacher conference night and as a result teachers are working 12 hours with one 30 minute break.

 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

It makes you wonder if they don't hire these incompetents like Miles & Co. on purpose, knowing full well that it will drive away talent and drive down quality. Just a few more nails in the coffin of public education...

 

So what're a few six figure salaries in the big picture, anyway. Small price to pay to further that aim, I suppose.

 

 Or, maybe it really is just the banality of evil.

todd
todd

According to the DMN article, teachers "weren’t paid extra or overtime. It was simply included in their contract. However, this year, the conferences aren’t included in the 187-day contracts."  Seems to me that teachers are working 188 days (4 hours, twice a year) and being compensated for 187.  That's a lot of salary not being paid. 

 

If the teachers' positions are designated as salaried exempt (from receiving overtime pay) then DISD may be within their rights in making this change.  That is not to say that they are right for making this change in the manner that they did.

PrestonHoller
PrestonHoller

The article states: "Most salaried workers don't get paid overtime for staying late for a meeting, the logic goes. Why should teachers?"

 

Most salaried workers won't work for the low wages teachers get.

Most salaried workers would refuse to have to take the abuse doled out 7 hours a day from teenage students.

Most salaried workers would quit if they were expected to spend a couple hours every night grading papers.

Most salaried workers would quit if they only got 25 minutes for a lunch break.

Most salaried workers would quit if their chances to go to the bathroom were contingent upon their ability to sprint down the hall during a 5 minute passing period, drop drawers, take care of business, and get back to their classroom before the kids tore it apart.

Most salaried workers would quit if they were told on one hand to spend more time in their classroom but on the other hand were ordered to board school buses and spend an entire day at Mike Miles' convocation (i.e. photo op) at the same time when the District is complaining about budget problems but spending money on an overblown rah-rah session.

Most salaried employees would quit if, like teachers, once or twice a month a kid came and threw up on their desk because the kid's parents forced him to go to school sick because the parent needed the free day care.

Most salaried employees don't work for an organization with a billion dollar budget that gave a $200,000 salary to a person to head up its human resource department despite the fact that that new HR head HAD ABSOLUTELY NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN HUMAN RESOURCES.

 

Look, teachers in general have a crappy, thankless job and are generally underpaid.  A few are really bad apples but the majority work their tails off with little appreciation.  On top of this, the DISD ADMINISTRATION has a looooooooooooooong history of 1) abusing its teachers; 2) mismanaging money; 3) engaging in blatant nepotism; 4) "losing" hundreds of millions of dollars; and 5) overpaying administrative personnel to the detriment of teachers.

 

And people wonder why DISD teachers are chafing at having to do extra work without extra pay?

 

 

 

TitusGroan
TitusGroan

Um, could somebody explain how not paying for after-school PT conference time maximizes the time teachers spend with the kids?

 

If you're going to take away pay, at least offer comp leave.  Sheez.

 

Why are we so dedicated to making teaching a living hell?  Did the majority of people around here have a bad experience in school or something?  Why do we hate them so much?

plfarmer
plfarmer

I can see why so many poeple are afraid of this union.

LakeWWoodMom
LakeWWoodMom

 @IdeasExchange She's a tough cookie and a very smart woman. Miss Escanilla never ceases to amaze me. Two of my three children graduated from Woodrow when she was the dean of instruction. She always did what's right for the kids and teachers. North Dallas is lucky to have her. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @IdeasExchange I DON'T think that they should be feeding parents and students.  And, "campus funds' might need to go to other matters.  From an accounting perspective, buying food might need to be accounted differently.  At our RISD school they often have slices of pizza for sale by the PTA.  If they want to feed the teachers, or poorer kids and parents that's up to them.  I don't know what those "campus funds" are designated for precisely, short of that, it's hard to be too judgmental about that ruling. 

AdNauseumDISD
AdNauseumDISD

 @IdeasExchange That's the most ridiculous policy I've ever heard. Good for the principal for standing up. Teachers don't get paid for staying up. At least the principal did the right thing to do. The money did not go to waste. You win my sympathy as a taxpayer. Now I know there are still principals out there that can make some sense into the madness that is DISD.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

This is especially bad if you have the first lunch period of the day at around 10:30. That means you work 9 hours with no chance to eat or use the restroom.

ubstoopid
ubstoopid

@todd You forget teachers had 5 hours a week of meetings added to their schedule with no compensation. They also had their planning time cut in half which means all that work goes home for nights and weekends. In total, they've had around 200 hours of extra work added to their year with no compensation. In addition, there are stlll only 24 hours in a day. Some of the busy work now required cuts into sleep time and family time. Miles isn't having teachers work more productively. His waste of a day of work for 20,000 employees, the money spent on buses in order to have people watch him dance was ridiculous. The talent is making plans to leave, as they always do when an idiot is in charge. Instead of scraping off the incompetence, Miles and the board are making sure the best leave in droves.

Edward
Edward

 @PrestonHoller Well said.

 

As I've stated before, ANYONE who thinks that teachers have it easy and should be thankful they have a job, etc., need to spend one day in a classroom and see what teachers have to deal with. It isn't pretty.

 

Parents and the community at large should be on their knees thanking the dedicated professionals that teach their children, instead of berating them and smarting off about how easy they have it.

GrassIsGreener
GrassIsGreener

@PrestonHoller Most salaried workers would love to get 15 weeks vacation a year instead of 2-3. In all professions, you take the good with the bad. This is America, you can change jobs at any time. If teaching was as horrible as you say it is, there would be a shortage of teachers and pay would have to increase to attract more people into the profession. It's all about supply and demand. If you think everything is fair and just in the corporate world, you have what is called the "grass is greener syndrome". A lot of people I know would kill for a ten hour day and a 25 minute lunch break.

eastdallasgirl
eastdallasgirl

It seems that we are loosing the few good teachers left, and there is absolutely no flexability in scheduling, unless a teacher calls in sick, thus keeping subs working, but not applying the expected curriculum.  This is not corporate America, but it seems that some common sense HR applications could be added with the help of a smart project manager who knows education.

ubstoopid
ubstoopid

@TitusGroan Because they have become the scapegoats for a bad economy. Because Michelle Rhee and other carney barkers make a living off hating teachers. Because Texas and other TeaBagger states are full of right wing idiots. Because it's a way of distracting people from real issues.

ubstoopid
ubstoopid

@plfarmer It isn't a union and no one is afraid of it. Your comment is either extremely sarcastic or ridiculous. Adding in the extra time without any increase in compensation or comp time for Dallas teachers this year, it is apparent their professional organization is without teeth.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @EastDallasDad Our school didn't even give us a 30-minute break, and they certainly didn't buy our dinner.

 

Who does that to other people?  

10 minutes to eat and go to the bathroom and then you'd better be in your room with no food in sight or you get written up?

 

Thanks for the "leadership" Mike Miles.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @Edward  @PrestonHoller 99% of the parents are pretty decent and supportive.

 

It's the superintendent--especially this one--and all his overpaid minions who make teaching in DISD very, very difficult.

 

Shame, shame on Mike Miles.  If this is what West Point turns out, no thanks.

ubstoopid
ubstoopid

@GrassIsGreener There are 330 known teacher openings in Dallas right now. 22 in math and 20 in science. We don't see anybody beating down the door to teach in Dallas. Those kids sitting in classrooms with permanent subs will take high school end of course exams in May that determine whether they get a high school diploma. The market is speaking. People don't want to teach in Dallas. As far as your comment that people would kills for a 10 hour day and 25 minute lunch break, apparently that is not true, is it?

PrestonHoller
PrestonHoller

“Most salaried workers would love to get 15 weeks vacation a year instead of 2-3.”

 

Really?  What a shocker.  Gee, it never occurred to me that people generally like more vacation than less. 

 

But this isn’t the issue.  The issue is the payoff for getting this extra vacation.  Overall, teachers are paid substantially less than other professions with similar education requirements and similar experience levels.  Compare the salary of the best teacher in Dallas with 20 years of experience vs. the salary of the best doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer, or sales executive.  Heck, compare the salary of the best  teacher in Dallas versus the average salary of a mid-level doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer, or sales executive.  The extra vacation doesn’t make up for the lower salary.

 

“In all professions, you take the good with the bad. This is America, you can change jobs at any time.If teaching was as horrible as you say it is, there would be a shortage of teachers and pay would have to increase to attract more people into the profession. It's all about supply and demand.”

 

And you are too freakin’ uninformed to realize that DISD teachers are LEAVING IN DROVES.  More importantly, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY A SHORTAGE OF DISD TEACHERS.  Read the news stories.  DISD is having to hire under qualified substitute teachers.  The DISD was short some 300 teachers at the beginning of the school year.  A couple years ago, they were hiring Spanish speakers from Central and South America WHO WERE NOT CERTIFIED TO TEACH in order to fill out the bilingual classes.  You know why?  Because there were enough qualified teachers who were willing to work for the DISD.

 

That is why DISD teachers are chafing at these extra work requirements.  The conditions suck.  The good teachers are fleeing in droves for other districts.  The bad teachers stay because they know they can’t get jobs elsewhere.  And DISD kids are suffering. 

 

Now the DISD administration is further burdening teacher.  As you say, this is America and people can leave their jobs.  That is exactly what is happening in the DISD.

 

 

“If you think everything is fair and just in the corporate world, you have what is called the "grass is greener syndrome". A lot of people I know would kill for a ten hour day and a 25 minute lunch break.”

 

Sorry, I call BS.  If you know “a lot of people” that would work on these conditions for this pay with the DISD administration, they are either lying or too incompetent to get a job elsewhere.

 

TurdFerguson
TurdFerguson

@ubstoopid Offsides, ubstoopid. Five-yard penalty, replay third down.

PrestonHoller
PrestonHoller

 @DISDTeacher  Talk to GrassIsGreener.  She apparently knows allllll kinds of people that would be overjoyed to work 18 hours days with food or bathroom breaks, let alone overtime.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @ubstoopid  @GrassIsGreener There are not 330 openings, there are that many unfilled positions.  The District isn't hiring them.  It's not the case that no one wants to take those jobs.  The district would rather pay $75 and no benefits to a sub than $150 with benefits to a certified teacher. 

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