Saturday, June 12, 2010

Poor Leadership Causes More Problems With MPS

JSOnline is reporting that MPS has sent out lay off notices to 482 teachers as well as hundreds of educational assistants. MPS officials are saying that the lay offs stem from the teachers union not accepting a less expensive health plan.

But there are two problems with their claim.

One is that the change had not been properly introduced:

Union spokeswoman Kristen Collett said the administration never presented that option during negotiations for a new contract.

"The district has been engaged in public bargaining, but it never came up at the table," Collett said when reached by telephone Friday evening.

The last contract between MPS and the teachers expired June 30, 2009, Collett said.

The other problem is that the claim that this other health plan would be less expensive is rather dubious. From Jay Bullock, liberal blogger and teacher extraordinaire:
And here's the kicker: Changing the health plan from PPO to HMO isn't going to save much money at all: The district offered an estimate a while ago, noted by the editorial board here: "An estimated $47 million in health care savings could spare 400 teaching jobs." Their math is right on how much teachers cost, but the "estimated" savings is nowhere near accurate. The way MPS arrived at the number was to take the average cost of an employee on the HMO and subtract that from the average cost of an employee on the PPO, multiplied by the number of employees on the PPO. Problem is, the average cost of an employee on the HMO will shoot right up if all of us are on that plan. Why? Because the costs are based on actual utilization, and employees who choose the PPO do so generally because they have higher-cost or more challenging needs. Those health issues will not magically go away under the HMO, and MPS will still find itself paying for that care. In addition, the HMO requires no annual deductible or co-insurance or cop-pays.
Jay goes on to explain where the real problems are coming from.

But now, due to the state, the feds, and the MPS leadership, there will be hundreds of less teachers to try keep a struggling school system from completely failing. Nowhere have I seen any explanation on how fewer teachers are going to help raise the reading and math abilities of struggling students.

I completely sympathize with Jay and his fellow teachers, as well as the students who will ultimately pay the price for MPS leadership's failure. After all, Milwaukee County government has the same issue with its leadership.


  1. Yeah, well, I'll believe it when I see it. Most school districts issue layoff notices, but when you include retirments, people quitting etc.. you will see that the district actually will hire people. Seen it so many times. Just a publcity stunt by the school district.

  2. It's depressing that the priority is the politics and not the children. Many peoples lives will be changed negatively. Inflation of class sizes will cause back tracking and endless obstacles. Teachers and stundents are left behind in the wind. Where are the administrators heads? What a community disaster!