Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day: $245,000

Today is Labor Day, a time to remember all workers.
Today, I'd like to thank our teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, custodial staff, bus drivers, after-school support, administrative staff, and all other workers who make our schools run smoothly.

Tomorrow, school starts, and in the Ann Arbor schools, Dr. Patricia Green--our new superintendent--has her "first day of school." (Yes, she started in the summer.)

To date, a lot of attention has been paid to her salary: $245,000--and I agree with the many of you who say that she's being paid too much.

But I'd ask you to step back a moment, and really try to judge her on the work that she does in the coming year, and not on her salary. Even though I know that is hard to do. Her job is hard enough--don't make it harder because of what she is being paid.

I ask you to do this because of one simple fact: Patricia Green did not set the parameters of her salary--the school board did, at the suggestion of a national search firm. If you don't like what they did, then tell them that; and if you don't like their larger body of work, go ahead and vote in new school board members in November. Tell the remaining school board members why you chose to vote for new people.

And I'd like you to imagine this:
Suppose that you were working as an engineer for $75,000 a year, and you decided to apply for a job that you thought would pay a little bit more--perhaps $90,000 a year--and might offer you a new challenge. Plus, you were already eligible for retirement at your old job. When you make it to the round of interviews, you find out that if you are hired, they want to pay you $125,000. They think that it will be hard to give you raises in the next few years, so they would rather pay you up front.

What exactly would you do? Would you say,
A. "Oh no, I think you should only pay me $90,000 a year?"
Or would you say,
B. "Yes, I can work for $125,000."

Dr. Green chose B, and I think that most of us would have done so as well.

Do judge Patricia Green on her body of work.

To you, Dr. Green, I have these words of advice: Really listen to your constituents--a lot of the time they know more of what is going on than you will.  Show up at meetings and be present in the community Putting up videos and sending deputies to community meetings is no substitute for your presence. Although I had occasional disagreements with Todd Roberts and with interim superintendent Robert Allen (mostly I thought they did very well), I really appreciated that they were out in the community, coming to curricular events and parent meetings, budget meetings filled with critical parents and teachers, sporting events and events like the Science Olympiad.

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