2002-05-04 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

NYC Teachers Need a Contract Now
By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

NYC Teachers Need a Contract Now

On Friday, April 26th, I joined the rally to demand an immediate contract for New York City teachers.  Elected officials, teachers and educational professionals from across the State joined the rally to demand an immediate contract.  Senator Charles Schumer and New York State Comptroller Carl McCall called for higher pay for teachers.

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) held their annual convention at the New York Hilton from April 26 through April 28th.  Having previously served as one of the four city wide officers of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), having been an elected delegate to the NYSUT Convention for many years and having a doctorate in management and labor relations, I am very knowledgeable about and keenly aware of the needs of teachers.  (The PSC is an affiliate of the UFT and represents the faculty and staff at the City University of New York).

I met with Thomas Hobart, the President of NYSUT and Tony Cortese the V.P. to discuss important and vital issues relating to teachers.

It is urgent for many reasons that the UFT be given a fair and equitable contract immediately.  One of the most obvious ones is that there is a critical teacher shortage in New York City.  As you are reading this article qualified New York City teachers are preparing to leave the New York City system to take a position in Westchester or Nassau.  It is very common for certified excellent teachers who are presently teaching in New York City, when they get their master’s degree and State certification, to move.  The obvious reason is that these professionals will get a fifteen to twenty thousand dollar increase in pay per year.  How can anyone expect to recruit and retain qualified professionals in New York City with such an existing pay disparity?

I am personally disappointed in some of the rhetoric appearing in the newspapers.  There are now press releases that the city fiscal crisis demands that city workers must bear the burden.  I definitely believe that everyone should do his or her fair share.  However, not once during the good fiscal times did I hear anyone proclaim that the city workers deserve to take part in the fiscal prosperity.  They can't have it both ways.  This is not to say that higher salaries will cure the woes of our New York City school system.  However, paying professionals a wage in line with their educational preparation and qualifications would help.  It is important that we recognize the value of our teachers and the vital role that they play in our economy and in our future.  By paying significantly lower salaries than Nassau and Westchester we are starting off on the wrong foot. 

Teachers in New York City need to be heard and deserve a new contract.


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