By Ben Velderman
NEW YORK – Normally, when newspapers report about teachers who are “working to the contract,” it indicates the local teachers union is unhappy about something, and has directed members to perform only those duties strictly required by their collective bargaining agreement.
That means teachers show up to work when the students arrive, and race to their cars after the final bell. No after-school help for struggling students or letters of recommendation for college-bound seniors.
But New York City is a world unto itself, where “work to contract” seems to mean something much different.
The New York Post reports that, “Nearly one in four city public-school teachers whose schedules were audited by the Department of Education last year weren’t teaching the minimum number of classes their contracts require.”
“The underscheduling … cost taxpayers at the very least $934,000 for last year’s school year alone,” the Post writes. The actual cost is much, much higher, but since the Department of Education only audited 17 of the city’s 1,700 schools, the overall costs are unknown.
Taxpayers aren’t the only ones getting cheated.
The Post reports that the “lightened workloads” deprived students of numerous hours of potential instruction.
“Teacher workloads were also found to be lacking during mandated after-school sessions for struggling students – extra time that got teachers a huge pay hike in the 2005 contract,” the Post writes.
We’re left to conclude that if New York City teachers would simply “work to their contract,” students would see a lot more of them –and that’s probably a good thing.