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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: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 83°
Columbus
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 84°
Oxford
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 84°
Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
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