My Wife is Getting Pinkslipped

by Kevin on May 22, 2008

This is not a test of the budgetary system.

This is not a test of the emergency fund.

This is real. My wife is getting pink slipped.

What’s going on?

Good old fashioned, down and dirty, idiotic politics. The State Legislature failed to pass an education budget Tuesday. They just decided they couldn’t agree on a budget so instead of compromising like they are paid to do, they voted not to vote on it.

Result? Hundreds of non-tenured teachers in the state of Alabama will be getting pink slips by the end of this week (schools have to fire teachers before the end of the school year).

My wife is finishing up her first year of teaching so she is definitely non-tenured.

Everyone in all of the boards of educations as well as the governor are asking teachers to hang in there and not go looking for another job out of state (Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee being the obvious candidates). Oh yea, sure. We’ll wait for politics to run its course and not look for another job. The legislature failed to do the job it is paid to do the first time, so naturally we can trust them to do it the second time.

We’re kind of in a predicament because we bought a house last year, love the area, and are not looking to move to another state. But Alabama risks losing a lot of good, new, young teachers. You would think a majority of non-tenured teachers are in their first 3 years of teaching, be young, and be more mobile in where they can live/work. Great move legislature!

I hate politics

Let me get this straight. Hang in there with me, but let me get this straight. The legislature… is voted into office by the people to represent the people. Their job is to set balanced budgets and keep the state running.

And they can’t seem to do it. Why? Special interest groups. Apparently the budget for education was cut 3% for K-12 schools and 12% for the universities. The universities were not happy about this, hired expensive lobbyists, and fought tooth and nail over an extra $25 million. That’s it. So the legislature could have said okay, we’re definitely going to give K-12 this amount of money, and definitely going to give the universities this amount of money. We’re still debating on the extra $25 million. But that would have been smart. We can’t have that.

Here is the tentative plan for fixing this mess. School systems start pink slipping hundreds of teachers because they aren’t sure what the budget is going to be. They ask those teachers to hold on and not go looking for another job. “We promise you’ll be back!” (Riggght…) The governor will call a special session and bring the legislature back in. Why not do it today? Well, there is “bad blood” between the two sides and he wants it die down. So rather than fixing the issue this week, let’s let is drag out and have people fired. Excellent idea, governor.

Facts / Rumors about the Legislature

Here are some things I have heard about our legislature which I haven’t had time to back up with real articles, but nonetheless:

  • The legislature voted themselves a 62% raise last year. Apparently it did a lot of good providing incentive for them to get work done. You know, you got a 62% raise you might work a little bit harder. Or not.
  • When the governor calls a special session, the legislature gets paid for an extra day of work. Regardless of the fact that they didn’t do their jobs the last time they came in and should be forced to come in… they will get paid. Again.
  • Rumor has it that they are in the legislative offices 3 days per week, and the day starts at 10am. Whew, a rough life.
  • The legislature spent 2 months debating on whether or not Macon county should be able to get a bingo hall, and less than a 1 week discussing the education budget (and 174 other bills at the end of the session).
  • A rundown of the story can be found on AL.com.

Again I can’t confirm whether or not all of the above are true, but it would not surprise me at all.

What are we going to do?

Well that remains to be seen. I believe if she got pinkslipped then they will still honor her contract and pay her through August. That buys us some time. We also have our emergency fund funded with about 2 months worth of living expenses. That emergency fund would last longer than two months because we wouldn’t (knock on wood) both be out of a job, so it slows the bleeding.

My wife seems rather content that there isn’t anything we should really do, so why worry? She believes the state will work out the budget, and if she got a pink slip she would be hired right back. I just don’t like trusting the word of politicians (or school superintendents, whose words are based off of politicians’ claims).

It’s weird. Growing up I heard stories on the news about local/state governments shutting down because the legislature couldn’t pass a budget for a few days. That just sounds insane to me. And now we’re experiencing a part of it.

We may not contribute to our Roth IRA at the beginning of next month and instead stick that money in the emergency fund. We’ll see what happens. My wife is the music teacher for two schools (K-2, 3rd-5th). We may get lucky and she won’t get a pink slip. We are not counting on it.

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Jeremy Davis May 22, 2008 at 10:03 am

Sorry to hear about the potential layoff.

If you are planning a move I’m sure you can find work over here in Georgia. My county has 3 schools opening this summer and 9 next summer.

How easily can you move with your schooling and all?

Mom @ Wide Open Wallet May 22, 2008 at 10:16 am

oh no! Hopefully it will all work out for you guys.

Mary May 22, 2008 at 10:22 am

That’s a real drag!! Hopefully it won’t come to pass. As for your state legislature giving themselves a raise – there’s a cautionary tale about that from here – many elected heads rolled in PA as a result of sneaky self-approved raises. Hopefully they will see the light soon. Good luck to you both!

Jonathan @ MYC May 22, 2008 at 10:46 am

Morons!

This kind of thing really makes me mad. Good teachers are the LAST thing that should be cut.

Patrick May 22, 2008 at 10:51 am

Wow, sorry to hear this! I hate political nonsense.

It’s good to know you guys have an emergency fund in place and will have some time to plan for this.

I know there are no guarantees, but a lot of times they call emergency sessions to pass essential budget issues. Hopefully this will be one of them.

lulugal11 May 22, 2008 at 1:43 pm

That sounds really horrible. I am a first year teacher (in Texas) and since I did not got through a formal teacher program I was not aware of all the hoops teachers have to go through.

I was recently made aware that I ‘work for the school district’ and can be reassigned to a different school at any time at the whim of the district’s needs.

The bad thing is that they are not obligated to tell me until the day before…so now I am being told that I am being reassigned…but have no clue where I will be.

I know this is not the same as getting fired…but it is just the frustrating part of teaching I guess.

It is a good thing you guys have an emergency fund for a little while.

This situation is really nerve wracking for you I guess. Let us know what happens in the end.

Chief Family Officer May 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Ugh. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this experience. I hope your wife is right, though, and that she’ll have her job back in the fall!

Jin6655321 May 23, 2008 at 12:07 am

Oh my goodness… So sorry this happened to you guys. I really hope things work out well.

Philip Robert May 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Kevin, Best wishes to you and your wife as this mess gets sorted out. It’s amazing what has become of this country. This is how I feel about politicians

Here’s a thought for y’all. If your wife is a music teacher she could start a program like Join the Band in Los Angeles. This is one of those things that would work anywhere, and it seems pretty easy to set up.

When you can control your destiny it’s a much better situation than letting some drunken, overspending politician doing it.

[email protected] May 25, 2008 at 9:46 am

Wow, I hate to hear that. I lived in Birmingham, AL for most of 37 years but moved to another state 5 years ago. I remember all the silly shenanigans the state legislators pulled in Montgomery but trust me, it’s no different in any other state.

I’d wager that they will hold an emergency session, do a bond issue, increase taxes on something, and pull it out at the last minute. In the meantime, have you considered private schools or even private music lessons until this works itself out?

When I went to The University of Alabama, I had a real estate law professor that got fired every May and re-hired every August. He had a private practice as well, so he wasn’t concerned but the laws on teaching at The University just made him (and me) laugh.

Erin May 26, 2008 at 9:25 am

I’m sorry-that really stinks. The same thing is happening in California. Education needs to be a priority.

HumanGod October 22, 2008 at 2:28 am

@Erin: You are absolutely right education needs to be the priority at all times. I mean seriously people just don’t seem to care about education and educators! Wish they did.

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