Teachers in crisis: NY educators demand paid parental leave

The headlines nationwide show that there's a crisis among teachers in many U.S. states. In the last three months alon...

Posted: May 8, 2018 5:11 AM
Updated: May 8, 2018 5:11 AM

The headlines nationwide show that there's a crisis among teachers in many U.S. states. In the last three months alone, teachers statewide in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona have all walked off the job in an effort to have their salaries raised for the first time since, in most cases, the Great Recession a decade ago.

In the tri-state, teacher compensation is among the highest in the country, but that doesn't mean that local educators are immune to the issues facing teachers elsewhere.

"I've worked at an afterschool program. I've worked directing shows at another school. I've worked at a tutoring program and I run a summer camp in the summers," Trisha Arnold said.

Her main job is being a fifth-grade special education teacher in Brooklyn.

Everything else, she said, is to make ends meet.

"You're working because you need to. You need to pay the bills. You need to survive," she said.

Arnold said her financial situation is challenging, even though she doesn't have any dependents.

Melody Anastasiou knows something about dependents. She's had to take leave from her job teaching fourth-grade special education in Staten Island in order to care for her 4-month-old daughter who has digestion and allergy issues.

"There are single parents out there" who are teachers, Anastasiou told PIX11 News. "They shouldn't have to worry about how they're going to pay their rent or their mortgage."

She's married to a fellow teacher who, for now, is the primary breadwinner for their family.

Even though they have a single income for the time being, PIX11 News did point out to her, and every educator we encountered for this story, that teacher salaries in New York State are, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the highest in the country.

"All of what you're saying is accurate," Anastasiou said. "However, the cost of living is higher as well."

In fact, New York State is nowhere near the top for pay, when adjusted for cost of living, in comparison to other major metropolitan areas. New York City teachers' salaries are even lower by comparison.

It's one reason that many teachers here are calling for changes to teacher compensation. However, their new request does not call for higher pay.

Instead, the centerpiece of the teachers union's interaction with Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is paid parental leave, in which teachers would be guaranteed pay for a certain number of days each year if they have to take time off to care for children.

The city already provides that benefit for its 20,000 public service managers. It does not, however, provide it for its 75,000 teachers.

"We're not going to get to the next level, if we don't truly come up with a package that's going to help teachers want to stay here," United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said.

The UFT in New York City is the country's largest municipal teachers union. Its president said that even though New York is not one of the places where teachers have felt they've had to walk out, "New York City has teacher shortages."

He said that the need is greatest in science and technology teaching, as well as in special education. Incentives like paid parental leave, he told PIX11 News, attract and keep teachers here.

For their part, de Blasio and the Department of Education have given teachers a contract that reimburses them for the years they went without a contract after the Great Recession. The current contract also has raised starting pay by 24 percent.

On the subject of paid parental leave, Freddi Goldstein, a de Blasio spokesperson said, in a statement:

"This administration cares deeply about ensuring the city's most dedicated public servants have the benefits they deserve, including paid parental leave. We're currently in discussion with the UFT over this very topic and hope to come to an agreement soon."

Both sides agree on one thing: that education is an investment.

"This is it," Arnold said. "This is the future of our country, and that should be our top priority on all levels."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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