A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nonunionized Labor Gets No Holiday

There is lots of talk about teacher salaries and benefits in New Jersey but little discussion of the status of non-unionized labor in our schools. Anyone who has been following the school budget fights in Monmouth County in recent years knows that janitors, cafeteria workers, and substitute teachers have been outsourced in many school districts, but we hear little about their fates under the new systems.

Local school boards are finding further savings by sharply cutting the salaries and benefits of instructional aids. They are considered paraprofessionals and are often qualified as substitutes and in some cases have years of experience with our children. They aren't certified teachers, but they've been mentored by teachers and have lots of experience in the classroom. I just heard that one district is cutting its instructional aid salaries by a third and eliminating their free medical coverage. Another is trying to find highly qualified candidates to work with elementary school special education students at slightly over minimum wage.

The grim truth is that nonunionized school employees can be unable to afford monthly health insurance costs of over $1,000 when their salaries have been cut. And some who have been outsourced have had to move in with relatives to make ends meet.

So go ahead and be mad about your taxes. Then realize we have effectively abandoned people who worked with our kids to squeeze an extra few dollars out of local school budgets, then invited lesser qualified people into our schools. Happy Labor Day.


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