Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Teachers in Berkeley, California sound as if they've gotten a bit of blue flu.
Berkeley students aren't getting written homework assignments because teachers are refusing to grade work on their own time after two years with no pay raise.

So far, a black history event had to be canceled and parents had to staff a middle-school science fair because teachers are sticking strictly to the hours they're contracted to work.

"Teachers do a lot with a little. All of a sudden, a lot of things that they do are just gone. It's demoralizing," said Rachel Baker, who has a son in kindergarten.

Teachers say they don't want to stop volunteering their time.

"It's hard," said high school math teacher Judith Bodenhauser. "I have stacks of papers I haven't graded. Parents want to talk to me; I don't call them back."

The action was organized by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, which wants a cost-of-living increase next year.

I don't belong to a teacher's union and am treated very decently by my school. However, I knew when I became a teacher what the story was about pay and went in with my eyes wide open. Sure, I'd like a lot more money. I'd like more time off during the day even more than money. However, I think that a teacher who refuses to grade papers or talk to parents is undeserving of being called a teacher. That is despicable. You don't punish students because you don't like what your paycheck says. That is despicable. I remember when teachers somewhere, maybe it was Michigan but I'm not sure, where the teachers went on strike and refused to write teacher recommendations for students applying to college. How low can you go to hold a kid's college plans hostage.

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