Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Sorry teachers, you simply can't win this one

When it comes to your principles, there is no shame in putting up a fight.

You can fight City Hall, and you can fight the power. According to the song, you can fight the law. You can even fight the good fight, whatever that means.

But you cannot fight reality. Not if you want to win.

And I'm afraid that's what Hillsborough County teachers are doing right now.

If you haven't followed recent headlines, educators in Hillsborough are pounding their desks over the news that the school district will not come through with scheduled pay raises for thousands of teachers.

And I don't blame the teachers for feeling betrayed.

Educators in Florida are already paid somewhere between poorly and horribly, depending on which study you cite. And if the proposed pay raise wasn't guaranteed by a contract, it was certainly agreed to and pledged by district administrators a few years ago.

Put in the same situation, most of us would be just as angry. But here's where reality spoils the fight: The Hillsborough County school system is in a financial meltdown. Basic necessities, such as air conditioning repairs, are being ignored because the district is having to cut so many corners.

You may recall that Hillsborough leaders enthusiastically joined forces with the Gates Foundation a few years ago, thinking it would make them national innovators. Turns out, the program was largely untenable and its costs were enormous. And now the bills are coming due.

Rank-and-file teachers shouldn't have to pay for that miscalculation, but neither should students. And that brings us to the current impasse, and some likely fireworks at today's School Board meeting.

I'm not saying teachers should remain quiet. They have every right to pepper School Board members with tough questions. I hope they do, because this School Board is among the most hapless imaginable.

But I also think the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association's vote to "work the contract'' for one week later this month is a mistake. (Working the contract means teachers will put in a normal work day, but will not stay late for parent conferences, grade papers at home or attend after-school functions.)

Because teachers are not legally permitted to strike, vowing to work the contract is one of the few tangible ways they have to voice their displeasure. But, really, what good does it do?

The school district certainly knows union members are angry. And teachers already have the sympathy and support of many parents and students. At this point, teachers are better off occupying the moral high ground and continuing to put students first.

Because this is likely to get uglier before it gets better.

Parents are already fleeing to charter schools at an alarming rate in Hillsborough, and a protracted war between teachers and district leaders will not make families feel better about traditional public schools. Instead of worrying about today's salaries, teachers should ponder a future world with more charters and even lower pay.

The smarter move for teachers is to acknowledge the district is hurting instead of pointing out every misspent dollar, as if it will miraculously add up to a $17 million windfall needed for raises.

The fight, in some ways, is for long-term survival.

Romano: Sorry teachers, you simply can't win this one 11/14/17 [Last modified: Monday, November 13, 2017 8:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and quality.

    HSN and Good Housekeeping chose five finalists for its entrepreneur contest. Pictured is Perry Mercer from Fort Worth showing off his product on the Home Shopping Network in June. | [Times file photo]
  2. Epilogue: Hermanda DeRoos O'Connor, social grand dame 1939-2017

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Had she known she would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at age 66, Hermanda de Roos O'Connor would have organized a gala or fashionable fundraiser every day of the week to fund a cure.

    Tampa social grande dame Hermanda deRoos O’Connor died Sept. 4, 2017 of complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  3. Brayden Point becomes 'the heartbeat' of the Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — A local TV crew set up shop in front of Brayden Point's locker stall the other day, waiting for the Lightning forward to be ready.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) battles to catch up to the puck the offensive zone against the Dallas Stars during first period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/16/17). s  

  4. Cyber firm accesses CentCom cloud information, gives command low security score

    Macdill

    Every day, military and civilian personnel stationed at the MacDill Air Force Base headquarters of U.S. Central Command use the Internet to reach out to foreign audiences in an effort to combat Islamic State propaganda.

    U.S. Central Command, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, says the information accessed has no intelligence value.
  5. Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

    Elections

    An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Plant City's state House District 58 special election last month.

    Republican Lawrence McClure has denied any connection with a negative mailing campaign in his bid for the District 58 state House seat. But a search of campaign finance records traces back to his campaign manager. [Times file]