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: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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