The following is a list of frequently asked questions that I am providing answers for since UTD prefers to keep their teachers in the dark so they can be easily duped into voting for a contract only to later regret their decision.

Frequently Asked Questions for the 2017-2020 Contract

Question: If I vote “Yes” will I get my bonus in time for holiday shopping?

Answer: No. The bonus has nothing to do with UTD, the district, or the contract being ratified. You can vote “No” and still receive the bonus. The bonus will be paid in the spring and the amount you receive is contingent upon your 2016-17 evaluation. Nobody knows how much they will receive because we don’t have our finalized summative evaluations for 2016-17. If you are only effective, you may receive much less than $800 if too many people qualify.  It will not be a permanent salary increase, it won’t count for retirement, and it may disappear next year if there is not enough state funding. #Be grateful the state didn’t make the same mistake they made with the $2500 Rick Scott teacher raise and give the money directly to UTD and the district to collectively bargain away.

Question: I have been working for MDCPS for 18 years. How much will my mid-career supplement be?

Answer: You are not a mid-career teacher according to MDCPS and UTD. You had to be earning over $48,000 in 2015 to be entitled to a $750 supplement. Sorry, maybe 5 years from now when you should have reached the top of the pay scale and you are only making $53,000, UTD will negotiate a $750 supplement for you too. #Be grateful you are getting 2.6% instead of 2%.

Question: This is my second year teaching and I do not have an evaluation for 2015-16. What will my raise be?

Answer: Good question. I don’t know. I don’t think even UTD knows. When somebody asked this question on UTD’s Facebook page they were told to call the office. I’m going to assume that means you don’t even get the 2%. You will get the state bonus depending on your evaluation. #Be grateful you still have a job.

Question: I’m a performance pay teacher and only effective. How am I supposed to reach the top of the pay scale with 2% raises? It doesn’t even keep up with inflation!

Answer: Attend some of the excellent PD offered by the United Teachers of Dade and one day you too can become a highly effective teacher and get a 2.67% raise instead. #Be grateful. Something is better than nothing.

Question: I was hoping to take two years off to obtain my Masters degree because it’s the only way I can increase my income. Can I take professional leave and have my job when I return?

Answer: No. Extended professional leave and the word consecutive have been crossed out on the contract and you are not allowed to earn college credit while on professional leave.  #Be grateful. Have a baby or maybe someone in your family will die.


Question: I am an annual contract teacher. Does the superintendent’s recommendation ensure that I will have a job the following year?

Answer: No. A recommendation from the superintendent is about as worthless as the contract that grandfathered teachers signed that promised they would be at the top of the pay scale after 22 years. #Be grateful you have health insurance.

Question: I’m a new hire. When do I get my health insurance?

Answer: After 90 days. #Be grateful and drive safely!

Question: I qualify for the mid-career retention supplement. Does that mean my salary goes up by an additional $750? What if the supplement isn’t offered again next year? Do I have any legal recourse?

Answer: The supplement does not increase your base salary but may count for retirement if it is in your last five years. The district is not under any obligation to pay you another $750 supplement next year. No, you cannot sue the district for lost financial compensation if you never see another retention supplement for the rest of your career. Read the fine print. #Be grateful. There are another 7,000 grandfathered teachers like you not getting a supplement.

Question: What kind of union collectively bargains away my right to sue?

Answer: UTD. Be grateful. It would be much worse with no union at all.

Question: How much do you all make for negotiating these horrible contracts?

Answer: Way too much. #We’re grateful we escaped the classroom and are now making six figures.

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steve jobs quote

The UTD contract ratification vote is almost here (it takes place on Tuesday November 7th in case you have been hiding under a social media rock). It is important that each one of us who feels passionately about our profession and the lack of adequate compensation take the two minutes next Tuesday to cast our ballots. Many teachers will lament, “it’s a done deal”, “the vote is rigged” or “I always vote No and it still passes.” Despite the possible veracity of these statements, it’s important that we still go out and vote. Isn’t that what UTD is always telling us to do? If we just got more involved in the electoral process we would all be rolling in cash? So here is your chance to get involved in an issue that directly impacts you.


If you are feeling particularly politically active this election season, here are a few guerrilla warfare strategies you can use to get your coworkers educated about the contract:

  1. Direct them towards the Kafkateach blog, the “MDCPS Employees You are Worth More” Facebook group or the Miami Educator Facebook page.
  2. If you are feeling more subversive, you may wish to print out  https://kafkateach.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/what-a-yes-and-no-vote-means-for-the-2017-2020-contract-ratification/ and distribute it in mailboxes, post it near the sign-in sheet, or if you are feeling especially brazen, post it on your school’s UTD bulletin board like this teacher did.

UTD bulletin board

(As an aside, look at the add on the bottom right. Who knew you could purchase UTD official merchandise? Now I know what to ask Santa for this Christmas!)

We also need some troops to go to the voting locations at their schools and observe the vote count and report your school’s Yes and No vote tallies to an anonymous survey. It would be nice if UTD would just release the school by school vote counts and help put an end to rumors of rigged elections, but until they do, we will have to collaboratively plan and use data driven strategies to provide some transparency to the electoral process. If you cannot observe the vote count, get your steward’s contact information and they should be able to give you the tally for your school.

UTD vote counts are public and you do not have to be a UTD member to observe the count. If you do observe the count, take pictures of the final count with your phone and report the vote count as soon as possible here: https://onedrive.live.com/survey?resid=1E1585172F57E910!5339&authkey=!ADsOezbQpSgHKDQ

This survey is anonymous and is from a personal onedrive (not a dadeschools onedrive) so if you are prone to paranoia relax. You can either share this blog post, share the link to the survey, or direct people to the Miami Educator Facebook page or the “MDCPS Employees You are Worth More” Facebook group where the link to the contract vote survey will be posted on election day as well.

be the change


What a Yes and No Vote Means for the 2017-2020 Contract Ratification

What a Yes Vote Means:

  • You think a raise that barely keeps up with inflation is adequate (the consumer price index for South Florida for 2017 was 2.3%)
  • You think even though per pupil spending went up by over $100 giving the district an extra $35 million and property tax collection continues to go up, you should get a smaller raise than when per pupil spending was lower
  • You are OK that the district thinks you are a chump for accepting between 2%- 2.67% and you will gladly vote Yes again next year when they offer a 1% raise. Why should they offer you more if you keep voting Yes to lower pay increases?
  • You don’t mind that any future pay increases or supplements will be contingent upon funding from Tallahassee and may disappear at any time and you will have no right to take any legal action over lost compensation
  • You think $750 for select grandfathered teachers is fair compensation for people who are losing upwards of $100,000.
  • You think that over 7,000 of your colleagues never reaching the top of the pay scale even if the teach for 30 years is just their bad luck and nothing should be done to help them.
  • You are a performance pay teacher and think it’s OK that there is good chance you will never reach the top of the pay scale either
  • You think that teachers with almost 20 years experience making less than $50,000 is just fine
  • You believe that veteran highly effective teachers with 15 years experience should make less money than a highly effective performance pay teacher with just a few years experience
  • You never want to be able to take a year off to pursue an advanced degree or travel without losing your job
  • You don’t mind future new hires not having health insurance for the first 90 days of their employment.
  • You don’t mind the fact that future employees will pay more for dependent coverage
  • You will get a couple of hundred dollars in retroactive pay before Christmas, but you will not get the state bonus of $1200 or up to $800 before the spring so don’t count on that money for your Christmas shopping.

What a No Vote Means

  • You are an MDCPS employee that believes you are worth more!

vote no


The horror show that was UTD’s contract negotiations 2017-18 came to a gory conclusion on Halloween Eve.  The Nightmare on NE 2nd Avenue ended in the “inevitable result” of a 2% cost of living adjustment and a photo op for both the selfie obsessed UTD President Karla Mats and media magnet Superintendent Carvalho.  It’s no wonder these two have such ridiculously large grins. You would be smiling too if you knew you escaped a future of making 40 geez for life as a classroom teacher working for the Miami Dade County Public School System!


The real “creative and elegant” solution was having UTD President Karla Mats stand on a box in her Manolos in order to be able to reach across the table for the annual power handshake with the Superintendent. By this point, we should have all realized that our Superintendent is a man obsessed with saying words because they sound eloquent but are totally meaningless.  Here is another example from the Miami Herald spin piece on our new contract,

“Considering the revenue stream from Tallahassee and the current economic conditions our district is in,” Carvalho said. “We’ve been able to turn what seemed to be an impossible position into an agreement that honors and dignifies our teachers.”

What in the hell is this man talking about? “Revenue stream from Tallahassee”? You mean the one that went up by over $100 per pupil? “Economic conditions our district is in”? You mean our AAA rating from Moody’s because our debt reserves are so high just isn’t good enough? Record high property tax collections and this man is still trying to act like we’re in the middle of the Great Recession?

I ask you classroom teachers and other MDCPS employees, do you feel honored with a 2% cost of living increase in the middle of a booming economy? Do you feel dignified making $3,000 more than a first year teacher after 15 years? Is that $750 supplement for select grandfathered teachers going to make you whole again?

If you take issue with the Miami Herald functioning as a branch of the district’s bloated PR machine, leave a comment at the end of article. Maybe next time some amateur journalist decides to report on our contract, they can take the time to interview a few teachers instead of just regurgitating district talking points.

Speaking of talking points, MDCPS employees will no doubt receive a Halloween greeting from UTD President Karla Mats in their district email promising a goodie bag filled with treats, but it’s all trick. First of all, 2% is a cost of living adjustment, not a raise.


Here are the exact terms of our salary agreement.


Please keep in mind that anything less than a 3% annual increase is a rip off. When you average together all of the salary adjustments on the previous step schedule and divided by 22, the average increase was 3%. The reason it is less than 3% is because they raised the top, the bottom and threw in a pathetic $750 supplement for select grandfathered teachers. Ask yourselves why we were able to get above 3% in the last contract despite per pupil spending being over $100 less? Does this seem like a good deal to you?

UTD is telling grandfathered teachers who were not given a supplement it was because they would have larger salary increases under the percentage system. That may be true for one year but not over time. I’m currently at $44,900, my 2.6% cost of living adjustment will be a little over $1,000 which is better than my former step, HOWEVER, over time without the former large steps I am much worse off. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that with $1,000 increases for the next 15 years my salary after 30 years is going to max out in the low sixties. Under the previous step schedule, I was supposed to hit the top of $72,720 after 22 years. And for all of you effective performance pay teachers, you are going to have a hard time reaching the top as well. According to this chart it will take you 27 years to reach a top of $72,000 with 2% annual increases.

Yet the district spins this as over a 4% raise for teachers by including the state allotted bonus funds.

“Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was proud that the compensation agreement would mean no increases in healthcare costs for school employees, and that the state-funded bonuses of $1,200 for highly effective teachers and up to $800 for effective teachers pushed the average salary increase to 4.34 percent.”

No health care increases for CURRENT employees is true but the devil is in the details. Poor new hires won’t receive any health insurance for the first 90 days of employment and future dependent costs for health care will increase.

Here are some more Halloween demons in the contract to watch out for. Pay attention to #3. Your supplement may easily disappear and you cannot even take legal action for losses to income.

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Also, you can no longer take leave for professional improvement. I personally know many teachers who have taken advantage of the professional leave provision to go back to school or perhaps travel for a year. That will no longer be possible without losing your position and your pay. The maximum pay for new hires, even with 20 years experience, is $46,000.

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Also, per state law, annual contract teachers with effective and highly effective evaluations cannot be automatically renewed. The Superintendent can recommend you for employment but that is about as meaningless as most of his other gestures.

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You can look for additional tricks in the contract here .

The only treat is that I no longer see any requirement for collaborative planning. Maybe the district realized that a little collaborative planning can be a dangerous thing? Teachers and other MDCPS employees, circulate this blog, join the Facebook group MDCPS Employees You Are Worth More and let’s collaboratively plan how we can bury this monster of a contract. Happy Halloween!


This inflation adjusted salary chart shows how MDCPS and UTD have made mid-career teacher pay virtually disappear. Click here for a printable copy.

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Despite these obvious savings in teacher salaries over the past decade, we start contract negotiations for 2017-18 in Miami Dade County with the usual dire warnings of economic catastrophe from the superintendent. Even with Tallahassee raising per pupil spending by over $100 and record high property tax collections, the district needs to set the stage of economic calamity so teachers’ expectations remain low.



After MDCPS Science Teacher of the Year’s eloquent speech to the School Board regarding veteran teacher pay,  the superintendent promised a “creative and elegant” solution that will make grandfathered teachers whole again. You can watch her speech and the superintendent’s response here

The following week, the superintendent’s creative and elegant solution is revealed in UTD’s proposal #13. Grandfathered teachers who were on steps 13 through 20 in 2015 were to receive a five year retention supplement for “mid to late career teachers” ranging from $1,000-$5,500 in order to mitigate financial losses incurred in the transition to performance pay upon completion of 25 years of service. Only a few days later, UTD’s proposal #13 cuts unlucky step 13 out of the group of grandfathered teachers entitled to receive a retention supplement by changing the wording to salary amount in 2015 instead of step (you had to be earning $48,000 and step 13 was only earning $45,000).




This celebration would be short lived. A week after the grand reveal of the creative and elegant solution UTD had bargained the retention supplement of $5,500 down to $750.



So what happened over the course of a week to cause such a drastic decline in the retention supplement? The highly effective performance pay raise went from 1.8% to 2.5%, beginning teacher pay was raised by $200, the top of the pay scale was raised by $600, and the United TEACHERS of Dade added a $2,000 retention supplement for educational support personnel on steps 13 and 14 (they still have steps).


Meanwhile, grandfathered teachers steps 6-13 get to pay for top teacher pay, raising beginning teacher pay, performance pay, a retention supplement for certain grandfathered teachers, and now an ESP supplement on steps 13 and 14.


In response, UTD tried to offer some encouragement to grandfathered teachers under 20 years experience by telling them that some day, they too might benefit from a retention supplement.




After 14 years, I am perhaps 1/10 of the way up the pay scale and with a 2% raise every year for the next 16 years I will max out at $62,000 after 30 years of teaching.


This is a familiar line from UTD. That was their sales pitch whenever younger teachers complained about receiving $181 raises while older teachers received a $12,000 step. Only, oops, SB736 made us bargain away your steps and now you’re screwed. As beginning teacher pay has risen and the top of the pay scale has risen, the steps in the middle actually lost value over the course of the past decade with most mid career teachers earning more money in 2004 than in 2017.




21 year teacher

A UTD steward tried to claim that these memes were misleading and inaccurate. Please review the salary schedules from 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2014 and compare for yourselves. I’m sure UTD would like to perform some magic trick to make these old salary schedules disappear, but sorry teachers are hoarders.

steps 2004-2013

2007 was the last year that steps equalled experience in Miami Dade County. Notice that the fine print on the bottom states that teachers with outstanding performance will receive a 5% supplement in addition to their step. Also worth noting, is that per pupil spending is now higher than 2007 levels (although it did decline during the Great Recession and was not fully restored until recently). An outstanding teacher in 2017 is only worth 2.5% total.

2007-8 salary schedule

Collective bargaining in Dade has always worked in such a way that in order for one group to benefit, another group has to get royally screwed. Unfortunately, I happen to be in that unfortunate cohort of teachers that always loses out in every contract. When I asked UTD why their step schedule was so inequitable, their response was “because it encourages longevity.” Apparently the National Center for Teacher Quality came to the opposite conclusion, that protracted salary schedules discourage teachers from remaining in the profession. Let’s look at a couple of images from the NCTQ comparing Miami’s pay structure to Chicago’s. They thought 21 years was a long time to reach the top, imagine what the NCTQ is going to say about how long in takes Miami teachers to reach the top in future reports! Our pay structure is a national embarrassment!

miami vs chicago

Miami Dade time to reach top pay 2012

The illegal removal of grandfathered teachers from the step schedule will save the district hundreds of millions of dollars, while costing mid to late career teachers (teachers with 10-26 years experience) hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are the same teachers who have dedicated their lives to Miami’s children and are the ones responsible for all of the accolades that our Superintendent and School Board like to brag about. Other than the token gesture of a $750 retention supplement, nobody really seems to care about our economic predicament. If you care, and want the opportunity to receive real compensation for financial losses incurred, click here to donate to the grandfathered lawsuit. You can find out more about it here

beightol grandfathered scale

Meanwhile, in another example of UTD’s collective bargaining abilities, the district’s original proposal to mandate collaborative planning for 90 minutes a month (some of which could be in lieu of faculty meetings) actually ended up being much worse after negotiations than before. The amount of minutes increased to 120 and the “in lieu of faculty meetings” language disappeared. Click here to read the district’s latest proposal.


Although nobody knows exactly what the United Teachers of Dade and Miami Dade County Public Schools will come to an agreement on for MDCPS employees for the 2017-18 school year, it will certainly be much less than what we are worth.


If you would like to be involved in organizing efforts around the contract and contributing your school’s contract vote tally to an anonymous survey, join the MDCPS Employees You are Worth More Facebook group, visit the Miami Educator Facebook page, or follow this blog to get automatic updates.


***Special thank you to all of you that contributed images that were posted on this blog. If you want to make your own memes, this site makes it super fast and easy. ****


(Kafkateach could not manage the impossible and find a teacher appropriate image for a blog post involving dildos. I will never do another Google image search with the word “dildo” in it. I am now permanently traumatized.)

In news that was so mundane by Miami standards it didn’t even make it into the Miami Herald, a dance teacher at a charter grade school in Hialeah was fired after throwing a dildo themed surprise story for a former student. Had it not been for the tabloid quality journalistic reporting of the NY Post, this story may have slipped under the Kafkateach radar http://nypost.com/2017/10/20/teacher-fired-for-throwing-dildo-filled-classroom-party/.

If there ever was to be a news story about a teacher throwing a dildo themed surprise party for a student, you know that story would have to be coming out of Florida, most likely at a charter school, in the anything goes zip code of Hialeah. Apparently the school choice movement does not protect parents and their children from teacher predators who think vagina shaped birthday cakes and penis shaped birthday hats are age appropriate for 11 year olds. But don’t worry school choice loving parents, there was no teachers’ union to protect the dance teacher who was quickly fired.

Mater Lakes Academy in Hialeah is a charter school run by Academica, the same chain with family ties to the now disgraced tax evading former state legislator from Miami  Erik Fresen, who also headed the education commission.  http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/ethics-commission-clears-miami-rep-erik-fresen-alleged-voting-conflict

Charter schools in Miami have a long history of throwing questionable parties. In 2011, one Miami charter school was accused turning into a nightclub on the weekends and students were greeted with beer bottles in the hallways come Monday morning http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/09/02/parents-say-s-fla-charter-school-doubles-as-nightclub/

Given the turnover rate for charter schools and the hundreds of millions of public school tax dollars lost upon their closure, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article49565370.html you would think that the Florida legislature might reconsider its decision to increase capital funding for charter schools.

Despite any evidence that charter schools perform any better than traditional public schools, the state of Florida continues to fund and expand a parallel system. A deregulated system that operates at the expense of traditional public schools with an underlying profit motive that often leads to corruption. A system that demands cheap labor because educating children can turn into an expensive business, especially if qualified and trained professionals are to be hired. After over a decade of underfunding public schools and decimating the teaching profession, it is a forgone conclusion that teacher quality in Florida would fall into the abyss. A dildo themed birthday party at a charter school in Florida is really no surprise at all.

indecent proposal

I’m not sure why, but the Superintendent’s “creative and elegant” solution to veteran teacher pay (also referred to as UTD’s Proposal #13) has Kafkateach drawing symbolic correlations between cheesy female fantasy flicks of the 1980s that glamorize prostitution like “Pretty Woman” and “Indecent Proposal” with a touch of the Friday the 13th teenage horror movie genre. Am I really supposed to believe it’s just a coincidence that UTD’s Proposal to mitigate financial losses for veteran teachers is #13 with the cut off for eligible teachers being step 13 and this was all probably drawn up behind closed doors last Friday the 13th? Illuminati anyone? For the non history majors, here is snippet from Wikipedia regarding the origins of the number 13 being considered unlucky:

“From the 1890s, a number of English language sources relate the “unlucky” thirteen to an idea that at the Last SupperJudas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.”


I can just imagine UTD leadership sitting around the big oval table downtown hashing out a plan with the district that would sell out over half of the grandfathered teachers and give the lucky “select” grandfathered teachers less than half of what they are actually owed. And don’t kid yourselves teachers, despite UTD and the district spinning this giant heap of dog poop as the most benevolent gesture of veteran teacher appreciation in the history of the MDCPS, the sad reality is that this proposal probably has more to do with the Grandfathered lawsuit than any sense of fiscal responsibility UTD or the district feel towards veteran teachers. So if you happen to be on a step that might actually receive some of the proposal #13 funds this year, consider making a small donation to the Grandfathered lawsuit legal fees https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=ekpVewkLfCr33waNXqb2a77XTrNMCgRMpAvUu40U5Jt2U_DwS1aLzOazlxUMZXYNYDT0T0&country.x=US&locale.x=US

If you happen to be like this unlucky fellow, a grandfathered teacher who just missed the cut off for any compensation, or any of the other 7,000 MDCPS grandfathered teachers on steps 6-12, you may want to make a contribution to the lawsuit as well since it is now as clear as day that your union and your district are NEVER going to do anything to rectify the financial wrongs inflicted upon you.


The sad irony about UTD’s proposal #13 is that it appears that UTD President Karla Mats actually belongs to the same misfortunate mid-career teacher cohort that UTD excluded from any compensation based on the portion of  her salary paid by the MDCPS

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Even sadder, is the fact that mid-career teachers on steps 6-12 stand to lose even more than those who were “selected” to receive compensation. Even if I receive a 3% raise for the rest of my career, I’m still going to lose over $68,000 over the course of my career and I won’t hit the top of the pay scale until year 30. If I only get a 2% raise for the next 15 years I will lose over $116,000 and top out at $62,000 after 30 years! But no figgy pudding for me! I’m not going to be too jealous since I really don’t believe that any teacher on step 13 is going to be compensated seven years from now either. Grandfathered teachers have been around long enough to remember the infamous Karen Aronwitz/ Rudy Crew contract implemented over a three year period where a financial crisis ensued the third year and the contract was magically null and void.

If there is any hope in UTD’s  Indecent Proposal #13, it is that it shows that when there is a will there is a way. That it wouldn’t really be that hard to find a way to financially compensate grandfathered teachers and follow the requirements of the performance pay law at the same time.  “Creative and elegant” solutions to the veteran teacher performance pay quagmire do indeed exist.  UTD could easily turn their indecent proposal, into a decent proposal for all grandfathered teachers. All they have to do is pay mid-career teachers a $4,000 supplement in addition to a 3% raise every year for the next 15 years. I guess that’s about as likely to happen as a rich and handsome older gentleman offering my husband a million dollars to sleep with me and my husband agreeing to it. A girl can dream….


values matterOnce again it’s contract negotiation time and once again the Holy Trinity of Miami Dade County Public Schools (the United Teachers of Dade, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, and the Miami Dade County School Board) has given a collective middle finger to their mid-career teachers. If you belong to the especially misfortunate sub group of mid-career teachers (teachers with approximately 9-17 years experience of which I am one) then the MDCPS just gave a double middle finger to you. This leaves Kafkateach wondering why Miami Dade County Public Schools and the United Teachers of Dade harness so much hatred towards some of their most dedicated and effective employees?

OK, so I get why UTD, the superintendent, and the School Board might have a special dislike of this particular mid-career teacher (after all, I have been quoted in several Miami Herald articles about class size, VAM, and retaliation, spoken at a few School Board meetings without the usual effusive praising of the Board and the superintendent, and devoted the past six years of my life to ranting about horrible teacher pay, VAM, and class sizes in the MDCPS on this blog, social media, and through district email) but do my actions really merit the collective punishment of the other 7,000  mid-career teachers who are about to once again get completely shafted in the next collective bargaining agreement?

Much to the disappointment and dismay of approximately 13,000 financially devastated veteran teachers working for the MDCPS, the superintendent’s speech at the last School Board meeting where he promised a “creative and elegant” solution to the economic plight of teachers illegally removed from the grandfathered salary schedule turned out to be a huge let down. It was basically the equivalent of having your boyfriend of 15 years promise to take you to a fancy five star restaurant on your anniversary and instead you end up at McDonald’s watching him eat a Big Mac while you sit there starving to death.

If you would like to watch the superintendent’s Academy Award winning performance at the last School Board meeting after the MDCPS Science of Teacher of the Year’s impassioned speech regarding the financial losses incurred by veteran teachers, you can watch the video here https://youtu.be/e7uNrnpHldc

Although the superintendent’s acting skills were on point, his speech writer should be fired. WTF is a “creative and elegant” solution? When I did a Google image search for what “elegant pay” might look like, this was one of the first images to show up


That’s right folks, according to Google images “elegant pay” is really high end prostitution (which is what some mid-career Miami teachers may have to resort if the next bargaining agreement passes.)

After much anticipation, the superintendent’s “creative and elegant” solution was unveiled yesterday. Conveniently, it was first announced as being too complex for teachers to understand and then it was hidden on a special password protected UTD website. Given that ALL members of the bargaining unit should have access to as much information as possible before they vote on a contract, I will take the liberty of publishing it here for all you freeloaders (many of whom’s sacrifices have actually been paying for the financial rewards of the few for decades) http://www.utd.org/utd-content/uploads/2017/10/Schedule-Transition-Teacher-Retention-Supplement-Proposal-13-.pdf

Funny how the superintendent’s “creative and elegant” solution was actually published as a proposal by UTD. This will enable the district and the School Board to say, “blame your union” when the 7,000 grandfathered teachers who were left off UTD’s proposal to mitigate the losses of veteran teachers complain. If there were any doubt left that UTD, the district, and the School Board have formed the perfect trifecta to impoverish teachers and are really one and the same entity, just check out the UTD Facebook page and how they respond to their dues paying members who leave disgruntled comments about bargaining (that’s if they haven’t already blocked them from leaving comments)Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 4.29.24 PM

If you read the comments posted by the wizard of UTD, they may as well have been written by the superintendent himself. They are certainly not comments befitting a labor union representing the district’s 20,000 teachers.

There was actually nothing creative or elegant about UTD’s solution to veteran teacher pay. It is the same old solution as every other collective bargaining agreement, massively screw over as many teachers as possible while throwing a bone to just enough teachers to get the contract to pass. Unfortunately, it is the same 7,000 teachers who seem to get the short end of the stick every single time. In this year’s contract, veteran teachers who were on steps 13 as of 2015 may apply for a supplement for 5 years after working for 25 years. The following are the amounts of the supplements for teachers who were on steps 13 -22 as of 2015.

“Teachers who were on step 22 in 2015 shall be eligible for a retention supplement of $1,000 per year. Teachers who were on step 21 in 2015 shall be eligible for a retention supplement of $3,500 per year. Teachers who were on steps 13-20 shall be eligible for a retention supplement of $5,500 per year.”

That amounts to a pay out of $27,500 to 5,000 of the grandfathered teachers who are actually losing at least $48,000 (not including retirement) given a 3% raise every year until they retire. The other 7,000 grandfathered teachers who stand to lose at least $65,000 (not including retirement) given a 3% raise every year until retirement will receive absolutely nothing for their financial losses. Thanks again UTD! Always sticking it to the 35% so the other 65% can get a few peanuts tossed their way.

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You can view these figures for yourself here https://1drv.ms/w/s!AhDpVy8XhRUenARyVvrczgBuP5nc

When I wrote an email to members of UTD’s bargaining team, the district’s bargaining team, the superintendent and School Board members no one would answer two simple questions:

1. When UTD says “step 13 in 2015” are they referring to the actual steps teachers were on or years of service (since steps did not match years of service like they were supposed to)? 

2. Why have certain grandfathered teachers (steps 6 to 12) been excluded from the union’s and district’s attempt to mitigate financial losses for grandfathered teachers?

 I basically asked them why MDCPS hates mid-career teachers but not surprisingly no one responded. I won’t take offense because UTD doesn’t respond to dues paying member emails either. When one fellow co-member of the les miserables mid-career steps 6-12 cohort who actually belongs to UTD questioned on social media, “Can anyone please tell me what I get for my $861??? Anyone????

I responded, “You get screwed repeatedly with every contract. It’s like Hollywood actresses having to pay Harvey Weinstein.”

Sorry but the truth hurts. A real union that represented all members would not leave 7,000 financially devastated grandfathered teachers out of a proposal designed to mitigate losses of veteran teachers. It just wouldn’t. A district and School Board that sincerely valued its experienced teacher workforce would not leave us out of a “creative and elegant” solution either. They do it because they can. Either that or they really do hate us.


The absurdist dystopian nightmare that is teaching in Florida in 2017 continues as the Sun Sentinel ran an article this week about teachers sitting alongside high school students to take the SAT in hopes of qualifying for a $6,000 Best and Brightest bonus. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-schools-teachers-retake-sat-20171004-story.html

It should be noted that the brainchild behind the Best and Brightest bonus, Erik Fresen, was sentenced to prison for 9 years of tax evasion while serving in the Florida legislature last week in Miami. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article176100881.html

Meanwhile, Miami Dade is forcing teachers to use overpriced vendors and pay excessive shipping fees to buy school supplies using a new software application called “Class Wallet” for fear that the IRS will audit teachers’ dry erase marker purchases with the $284 they are given by the state to purchase classroom supplies.

I digress. Being lucky enough to have barely qualified for the Best and Brightest bonus one year, and unlucky enough to have been disqualified for the Best and Brightest bonus last year due to my district generated punitive VAM score, I feel for the Florida teachers that are so desperate for the shot at an extra $6,000 that they will invest hours of their life, hundreds of dollars in testing fees, and endure the utter humiliation of having to sit next to one of their students during an SAT administration. Here is how an imagined version of that awkward conversation might go down.

(Middle aged teacher stumbles into SAT testing room looking haggard with a coffee mug with the inscription, “World’s Best Teacher.” Like her students, she pulled an all nighter reviewing Algebra. She hasn’t solved an equation in over 20 years. She was bad at math in high school (that’s why she is here, her English score was high but not good enough to compensate for her abysmally low math score). She is probably even much worse now at math, but she is so desperate at the shot of a $6,000 bonus to help her pay off her credit card debt amassed while trying to survive over the summer, that she signed up to take the SAT. She tried to sign up to take it in another district to avoid the humiliation of sitting for the test with one of her students but there weren’t any available seats. Her greatest fear has been realized as she immediately recognizes her brightest student and he immediately recognizes her despite her disguise of a blond wig and sunglasses.)

“Hi, Ms. Jones!”

The student runs up and gives his favorite teacher a big hug.

“That’s so cool that you’re going to proctor my test today! Maybe you can give me some answers,” he chuckles.

“I’m sorry Johnny but I’m not actually your proctor. I’m here to take the SAT just like you.”

“You’re joking right? he questions. “Why would a teacher need to take the SAT? You already graduated from college?”

“I know it doesn’t make any sense Johnny. The world doesn’t make any sense anymore. Donald Trump is our President and teachers are taking an exam meant for high school students for the shot at an extra $6,000.”

She takes a seat next to Johnny and proceeds to tell him the following story.

“There was once a very evil and stupid man that didn’t pay his taxes and he served in the Florida legislature. He hated teachers and traditional public schools. He also had important familial ties to the charter school industry which was struggling to find teachers because their pay was so low. He wanted to help his brother in law increase his teachers’ pay without cutting into his profits, so he came up with the world’s stupidest bonus program for teachers. In order to hide the glaring fact that this his idea was the dumbest idea of all time, he called his plan, “The Best and Brightest Scholarship.” It promised to give highly effective teachers in Florida a $10,000 bonus if they also had SATs in the top 20th percentile.”

“But that’s absurd!” exclaimed Johnny.

“I know Johnny. But absurd is the new normal. The only way I can pay off my credit card debt is by winning the lottery or getting a Best and Brightest bonus. My odds are probably about the same.” Ms. Jones sadly lamented.

“But you’re a great teacher! Just look at your coffee mug! And you’re so smart. You are definitely one of the Best and Brightest!”

“I may be a great teacher and have graduated from a top university with a 4.0 GPA but I have always been horrible at math. I haven’t done any math in 20 years but if I don’t improve my math score on the SAT I will never get a Best and Brightest bonus. I paid some private tutoring service over $600 this summer to help me with SAT math.” she admitted.

“Why did you pay some tutor? I would have tutored you for free Ms. Jones.” offered Johnny.

“I got some email in my district email advertising SAT prep classes to teachers (this is a true fact). I was so desperate I signed up for the course. Besides, Johnny, I’m your teacher. I’m supposed to tutor you, not the other way around.”

“Is this why you haven’t graded any of my essays over the last month and why we’ve been watching Dead Poet’s Society in class instead of analyzing Shakespeare?” inquired Johnny.

“Yes, Johnny. I’m so sorry for neglecting my instructional duties because I have been too busy studying for the SAT just so I have a shot at getting a $6,000 bonus. It’s my only hope. The state of Florida has taken away the salary schedule that was promised to me when I first started teaching. Now I have no guarantee of any future pay increases. Last year a Teach for America teacher at our school with no training and no experience made $10,000 more than me just because she has high SAT scores.”

“Are you talking about Ms. Penny? She’s hot but she can’t teach and doesn’t care anyway because she’s just doing it for college loan forgiveness and to pad her resume for a education reform think tank position.”

“Take my advice Johnny. Don’t ever be a teacher. Especially not in Florida.”

“Don’t worry about that Ms. Jones. None of my friends want to be teachers either. We’ve been taught our entire lives that teachers are fat lazy losers that just want a job for life and only teach because they can’t do anything else. Besides, I can make millions playing video games and posting it on youtube. Why would anyone want to be a teacher?”

The test begins and Johnny’s last words, “Why would anyone want to be teacher?” resonate in Ms. Jones mind as she tries to solve a word problem that requires Algebra II.

After the test is over, Johnny asks to take a selfie with Ms. Jones. Mentally exhausted after the four hour exam she agrees. As soon as Johnny leaves the testing room he posts the picture on Snap Chat, “Hangin’ with Ms.J at the SAT. #hopemyscoreisbetterthanhers.”

When Ms. Jones returns to work on Monday her Principal calls her into the office.

“Ms. Jones why is there a picture of a student with his arm around you on a Saturday morning floating around social media? Did you think people wouldn’t be able to recognize you with that ridiculous blond wig? Do you think we’re that dumb? How do you think this looks for the school? Teachers fraternizing with students early on a Saturday morning…You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Ms. Jones doesn’t respond. She walks out of the Principal’s office and goes to her classroom to collect her “World’s Best Teacher” coffee mug. She hugs her students good-bye and then walks out of the school forever.

Why would anyone want to be a teacher indeed.









Beware Florida teachers! The Gates Foundation has been instrumental in taking away your job security, your annual step increases, and now it looks like they may be coming for your advanced degree pay next! In a new report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (which is primarily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as Walmart’s education reform foundation, the Walton Foundation), Florida is used as a case study for merit pay failure. The report entitled, “Backing the Wrong Horse. The Story of One State’s Ambitious But Disheartening Foray Into Performance Pay” deems Florida’s merit system unsuccessful due to the fact that teachers still earn more money for advanced degrees than they do for being rated highly effective. http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/NCTQ_Backing_the_Wrong_Horse_2017

The irony of calling advanced degree pay “the wrong horse” is particularly grotesque for teachers. Teachers are supposed to instill an appreciation for learning in their students and make them believe that academics will have some financial reward for them in the future. By taking away pay for advanced degrees for teachers, we are essentially telling students that education does not matter and will not benefit them monetarily.

Given the current teacher shortage in Florida since the passage of the Race to the Top inspired SB 736 legislation, it seems like the report released by the NCTQ should have been entitled, “Backing the Wrong Horse. The Total Failure of Merit Pay to Recruit and Retain High Quality Teachers.”

Alas, the Gates and Walton Foundations are still clinging to their disproven theory that performance pay for teachers will somehow save the American public school system. In their bubbles of private finance, they don’t seem to understand what American teachers have always understood, in the world of publicly financed institutions, any bonuses awarded for performance will be lilliputian compared to bonuses earned in corporate America.

The report begins with a promising tone, emphasizing the importance of competitive salaries and even concedes that many organizations pay more for experience.

“There’s no silver bullet to attract and retain effective teachers. In order to recruit and retain top talent in the classroom, schools must implement a multi-pronged strategy. An essential component of that strategy is a competitive compensation package. Pay matters. Indeed, research demonstrates that teachers who are satisfied with their pay are less likely to be interested in leaving their jobs.

As is true in any job sector, salaries set by a school district reflect its priorities and values, along with the priorities and values of the state. Although it is not necessarily true that the employee with the highest salary is also the most valued employee, the salary an employee earns is a partial reflection of particular attributes valued by the employer. For example, new employees typically earn relatively small salaries compared with salaries earned by long-term employees because many organizations highly value employee experience.” (p.1)

By page 2 the tone of the report has shifted and the chastisement of Florida begins,

“While the road from legislation to implementation is rarely smooth, in the case of Florida it takes a u-turn. Only two out of the 18 Florida districts we analyzed are implementing performance pay systems that comply with the spirit of the law. Sixteen of the 18 districts we analyzed continue to award teachers who earn an advanced degree — one of the traditional routes to earning a higher salary in teaching a higher annual salary award than teachers who earn a top rating based on their classroom effectiveness, contradicting the law’s intent. These 16 districts appear wedded to a pay system based on the disproven hypothesis that an advanced degree will make a teacher more effective.”

Although an advanced degree is no guarantee that a teacher will be highly effective, from personal experience I can attest to the fact that having more content knowledge in my subject area obtained by pursuing an advanced degree, does indeed make me a more effective teacher.

At least the report is honest at times and concedes that there actually is no data to suggest that performance pay attracts top talent to the profession or entices them to stay,

“The promise of performance pay is both to encourage talented individuals to consider a teaching career and entice high-achieving teachers to stay in the classroom. The research that would cement these advantages is still quite thin. Although there is little evidence that performance pay systems cause teachers to become more effective, there is some early research, albeit limited, demonstrating that school districts that adopt performance pay systems experience significantly greater success attracting teachers with higher academic aptitude.”

Poor Florida has gone from “best practice” merit pay darling of the NTCQ to the “wrong horse” merit pay failure in just two years.

“In NCTQ’s most recent (2015) biannual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, Florida was highlighted as a “best practice” state for the strength of its performance pay policy.7 Specifically, we celebrated Florida’s policy for allowing “local districts to develop their own salary schedules while preventing districts from prioritizing elements not associated with teacher effectiveness.” (p.5)

The NTCQ is appalled that performance pay awards are still smaller than advanced degree payments and at times may even be smaller than the COLA. *Miami-Dade teachers please note that a COLA stands for a Cost of Living Adjustment. I know we haven’t heard that term used in Miami-Dade in over a decade, but most districts still believe that inflation exists and adjust salaries accordingly.

“In addition, the new law aims to ensure that no universal source of teacher pay would supersede performance pay as the largest salary award available to teachers. Many districts nationwide provide teachers with an annual adjustment in pay through a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, which helps to ensure that a teacher’s purchasing power is not diminished by inflation. Florida’s performance pay policy does not rule out a COLA, but it specifies that districts may not use such an adjustment to exceed 50 percent of the annual adjustment provided to a teacher rated as Effective.” (p.6)

Let’s move on to what got Florida branded the “wrong horse.” According to the NTCQ, Florida is paying way too much money for those silly advanced degrees.

“In the clear majority of Florida school districts in this study during the 2016-2017 school year, the dollar amount of performance pay awards falls well behind the award amounts associated with a teacher’s degree status. Nearly all districts continue to offer salary supplements that are higher than their adjustments for Highly Effective teachers, functionally ensuring that attainment of a graduate degree is the most significant factor in salary award determinations. This distinction between salary supplements and salary adjustments is critical. It appears, in effect, to function as a loophole that enables many of Florida’s districts to continue to place a higher value on an advanced degree than performance.”

“Among the districts we reviewed, there are two noteworthy outliers: Hillsborough County Public Schools and Duval County Public Schools. These districts compensate effectiveness at a higher rate than advanced degree attainment. Hillsborough does not distinguish between its Effective and Highly Effective teachers, as a teacher earning either an Effective or a Highly Effective designation in Hillsborough qualifies for the same salary award. ” (p.6)

While the NTCQ may think Hillsborough County and Duval County are to be commended for not offering much of a financial reward for advanced degrees, as a highly effective teacher with an advanced degree, those are two counties I would steer clear of in a job search. Why would I want to work in Duval County where I am only offered $1,042 for my Master’s degree when I go across the state to Sarasota County and be paid $5,066 for the same degree?

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Note that Hillsborough county offers zero payment for advanced degrees and exactly the same pay for effective and highly effective teachers. This actually means that Hillsborough County is not following the merit pay law at all since highly effective teachers are supposed to make more money than effective teachers. The only reason “merit pay” awards in Hillsborough are worthy of recognition by the NTCQ is that the amount of the award is larger than advanced degree pay since the amount for advanced degree pay is ZERO. Similarly, the only reason Duval County has a merit pay award higher than advanced degree pay is because they pay so little for advanced degrees, not because their merit pay awards are much larger than any other district. So the answer to merit pay according to the NTCQ, is not to make the amount of merit pay awards much larger, but to make the amount awarded for advanced degrees much smaller and even further de-professionalize teaching.

The irony behind the NTCQ commending teacher pay in Hillsborough County goes beyond the fact that they don’t even follow the Florida merit pay law and that highly effective teachers are not rewarded with greater pay which is the primary tenet of Gates inspired education reform. Hillsborough County was the recipient of a $100 million Gates Foundation grant that bankrupted the district and the foundation pulled their funding out before the grant was even completed. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/sticker-shock-how-hillsborough-countys-gates-grant-became-a-budget-buster/2250988

Talk about “backing the wrong horse”! The wrong horse to back in education has time and time again been any reform funded by the Gates Foundation! Gates has even admitted himself that the billions of dollars he has spent on education reform has not resulted in improving American schools. Any school district considering future grants from the Gates Foundation needs to read the entirety of this article about the economic fiasco in Hillsborough County. I can think of no greater example of an institution “backing the wrong horse” than Hillsborough County’s $100 million Gates Foundation performance pay boondoggle (actually it was $200 million since the county had to bring matching funds).  Certainly a much worse horse than paying teachers for advanced degrees. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/sticker-shock-how-hillsborough-countys-gates-grant-became-a-budget-buster/2250988 

The end of the NTCQ’s report finishes with the typical education reform allegiance to performance pay based on test scores.

“Florida’s performance pay law emphasizes that adjustments for Highly Effective teachers must be the highest available through any salary schedule, and yet, in most districts we reviewed, our findings demonstrate a clear disconnect between the spirit of the law and its implementation. This means that the majority of the districts we reviewed are continuing to invest significant sums of money each year in a compensation system that is not reflective of what they no doubt value most: student learning and growth.”

Note that “student learning and growth” is a politically correct way of saying “test scores.” They really don’t care about any kind of “growth” that can’t be measured by a multiple choice question and some good old fashioned psychometrics.

Given that Florida’s forays in merit pay have failed to attract and retain high quality teachers and conversely, created a teacher shortage, instead of listening to organizations like the National Center for Teacher Quality funded by the Gates Foundation, Florida legislatures might do a better job of attracting teachers by listening to the people who actually represent the views of teachers. Hillsborough County’s union director offered some common sense suggestions to teacher pay which do much more to recruit and retain teachers than stripping them of yet another means of improving their meager pay.

“Baxter-Jenkins, the union executive director, said she wanted to do right by long-time teachers who had been underpaid through prior pay schedules.

“You cannot leave out the people who gave their life here and stuck to this district through thick and thin,” she said.

Regardless of what reformers might say, Baxter-Jenkins said it’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to commit to a job that offers no expectation of increased earnings.

“While I think performance pay is fine,” she said during a recent bargaining session, “having good base salaries is a much better draw for people to become teachers and stay teachers.” http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/sticker-shock-how-hillsborough-countys-gates-grant-became-a-budget-buster/2250988

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