Students in the Berkeley school district aren’t getting written homework assignments because teachers are refusing to grade work on their own time after two years without a pay raise.
So far, a black history event had to be canceled and parents had to staff a middle-school science fair because teachers are sticking strictly to the hours they’re contracted to work.
“Teachers do a lot with a little. All of a sudden, a lot of things that they do are just gone. It’s demoralizing,” said Rachel Baker, who has a son in kindergarten.
Teachers say they don’t want to stop volunteering their time.
“It’s hard,” said Judith Bodenhauser, a high school math teacher. “I have stacks of papers I haven’t graded. Parents want to talk to me; I don’t call them back.”
The action was organized by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, which wants a cost-of-living increase next year.
District Superintendent Michele Lawrence expressed sympathy for the teachers but said there isn’t money for raises. She blamed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not providing as much money to education as promised.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Vince Sollitto said the governor has promised that the bulk of new funding in next year’s budget, $3 billion, will go to education.
Barry Fike, president of the teachers union, said the district will be getting more money next year and that teachers want a share.
But schools spokesman Mark Coplan said the district still faces a deficit for several reasons, including rising health care costs and the governor’s plan to shift some big costs from the state to the district.
Fike said teachers are willing to start paying some health care costs, but without a raise that would amount to a pay cut.
The union declared an impasse in negotiations last June and has not had a contract for two years.