Resolved: More Driving for Teachers, Less for Everyone Else

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Another DOE employee not abusing a parking placard, courtesy Uncivil Servants

Following United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s "deeply troubling" letter to Mayor Bloomberg earlier this month protesting the city’s directive to reduce parking placard issues by 20 percent, this week UFT chapter leaders and delegates approved a resolution not only demanding an exemption from placard reform, but calling on the city to increase the number of placards and parking spots reserved for motoring teachers.

This in and of itself is not terribly surprising, except that in December UFT members passed another resolution condemning America’s avaricious consumption of fossil fuels, dependence on foreign oil, lack of interest in alternative energy, and production of greenhouse gases.

Hmm… where have we seen this before?

Here are the two rezos in their entirety, first from December:

Resolution on Protecting the Environment — Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Whereas, it is a well established scientific fact that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming, resulting in great dangers to our environment; and…

Whereas, the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal results in greenhouse gas emissions; and

Whereas, little is being done in the U.S. to reduce the use of fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources; therefore be it

Resolved, that as an important first step to reduce the use of fossil fuels and lessen dependence on foreign oil we urge the adoption of a meaningful increase in fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon or higher for vehicles; and be if [sic] further

Resolved, that other steps be taken to reduce the use of fossil fuels and lessen dependence on foreign oil including the requirement that utilities generate at least 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources; and be it further

Resolved, that the nation reward the development of alternative energy sources such as bio fuels and solar power, which would help free the U.S. from imported oil which amounts to 60% of the oil consumed in our country.

And here is this week’s resolution:

Resolution Opposing Any Reduction in Parking Permit [sic]

WHEREAS, many New York City public schools are difficult to reach by public transportation, many teachers travel between schools, and most schools do not provide off street parking for staff so that educators need to rely on street parking; and

WHEREAS, educators receive parking permits from the Department of Education that enable them to park on a portion of their school block during school hours only; and

WHEREAS, these permits, unlike Department of Transportation Permits, do not allow holders to ignore meter or no parking zone or alternate side regulations; and

WHEREAS, on numerous occasions the UFT has raised the need for more parking for teachers and has been told by the city and DOE that this is an economic bargaining issue; and

WHEREAS, the City has recently announced a plan to reduce the number of parking permits for all city employees by 20 percent; and

WHEREAS, available parking is clearly an incentive to attract teachers to high-needs schools, and rescinding permits at a time when we’re making strides to attract the best and brightest to teaching in the city makes no sense; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT urge Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein to exempt UFT members from any reduction in parking permits; and

RESOLVED, that we call on the Mayor and Chancellor to join with the UFT to look for ways to increase the number of both parking permits and parking spaces for educators.

  • Unfortunately, the two resolutions are consistent. The resolution on protecting the environment says we should raise fuel efficient standards and use more alternative fuels, but it does not say that we should drive less or consume less.

    Once we move beyond the technological fix and start talking about simpler living, we will have a real chance of dealing with global warming – but the Teachers’ Union has not done that.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps, but the parking permits and reserved spaces themselves lead to less driving for everyone else.

    As I look for a place to put the car before using other means to get to work during an alternate side day, large sections of my neighborhood are off limits. That is a partial privitization of a section of the street.

  • Bill

    They have trouble enough attracting teachers to the City’s troubled and underperforming schools. They desperately need any frills they can get! 😉

  • Davis

    I suppose the case could be made that providing on-street parking for teachers around schools is a better use of public space and more of a public good than free parking for neighborhood residents.

  • steely

    let’s not forget that teachers set examples for their students. teachers can take transit, carpool, walk or bike. They can also choose to live closer to where they work, like many teachers do already. as a last resort, they can drive and deal with parking like everyone else who “has” to drive.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (They have trouble enough attracting teachers to the City’s troubled and underperforming schools. They desperately need any frills they can get!)

    Does this mean that parking permits for teachers should be limited to those underperforming schools?

    Heck, the UFT refuses to allow those teachers with the toughest jobs to be paid more, relative to similar teachers with easier assignments. It wants early retirement for those with seniority instead — so they can be paid for nothing.

    The average pay of teachers in the city is not very high compared with the rest of the region. But the cost of “perks” sucks up a massive amount of money here.

  • mork

    And what do the poor schlub teachers who choose not to drive get for their frill?

  • Eric

    Compensation for teachers and the relative cost of living in New York City are certainly two big issues. But those issues need to uncoupled from free on-street parking and the proliferation of permits. Pitting one against the other is a false choice. It’s not enough to say that since teachers are undercompensated, we can’t reduce the number of DOE permits.

    As long as we give teachers incentive to drive, they’ll do it at the expense of using mass transit. Sure, some schools are poorly served by transit, but who wants to bet that there are a good number of DOE permit parkers who could easily commute by bus or subway?

  • vnm

    Why is our society obsessed with giving out free parking passes but not free transit passes? My friend works out in Stamford, a five minute walk from the huge, newly enlarged and extremely well served train station they have there.

    Her company allows free parking in the building. But if you want to take the train? The best they can do is transitchek. That’s even though rail riders reduce congestion on I-95 and reduce pollution, and reduce the expense of building the building in the first place.

    So I say, the teachers union should be paying for metrocards and/or commuter rail tickets for its members instead of demanding free parking. Oh wait, that costs money instead of just demanding a freebie at the public expense.

  • Jonathan

    Sure, increased fuel efficiency for teachers’ motorcars may benefit the environment on a mass scale, but I wager that when it comes to being crushed to death by a motorcar, there’s not a lot of difference between a 50mpg diesel VW and a 10mpg Hummer H3. Cars and their drivers kill many people, including students of UFT members, every year. If UFT argues for keeping deadly guns and drugs and sugar water (!) out of schools, shouldn’t they be doing the same about deadly motorcars?

  • Eric

    That looks like a pretty nice ride in the photo, by the way. It’d buy a lot of MetroCards, for sure.

  • Bennett

    There is no rational excuse for the UFT’s stance. (What really angers me are all the public school playgrounds that I see around the city, whose primary use seems to be for administration – and occasionally, staff – parking.)

    At my school the administration is bike friendly, and I can bring my bike inside. But when I’m asked to travel to another site, I always have to phone ahead and find out the situation. Many places are downright bike hostile, including my own district headquarters.

    I’d like to see the UFT take a pro-active position in support of alternative transportation incentives for their members. Currently, bike accessibility is determined on a site-by site basis according to the whim of the site administration. An across-the-board policy supporting secure bicycle parking at all the public schools – for teachers and students – would be a good start (and would not be inconsistent with either of their resolutions).

  • Felix

    Teachers are no different than the rest of the city’s automobile commuters. Some of them commute from areas where you understand why they would feel the need to drive. Others have fairly convenient mass transit options they choose not to use. It’s often as much about lifestyle as it is about location. With suburbanites, though, it’s probably a lot cheaper to drive.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (So I say, the teachers union should be paying for metrocards and/or commuter rail tickets for its members instead of demanding free parking. Oh wait, that costs money instead of just demanding a freebie at the public expense.)

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the reason subsidizing transit for teachers costs but reserving them parking is free is because the parking is free to everyone. So everyone wants it — the uncivil servants and the loal residents. If local residents and teachers had to pay for on-street parking permits — say $25 per month or so — then handing out the “free” permits to teachers would cost, just like transit.

    But this gets back to another issue — residency. Civil servants who live near where they work are more valuable that those who live far away, and not just due to transportation.

    First year teachers are bad, and the more turnover you have, the more first year teachers you have. So it is a real loss if a teacher who has already climbed the learning curve departs for a suburban job. Some do it for the money. Many do it for the commute.

    None of the teachers who live in my neighborhood and ride the subway to work have left for a suburban job. It would be bad for child care.

    It may not be fair for force teachers, cops, sanitation workers etc. to live in the city. But if it were up to me, those who lived in the borough where they worked — or, if working in Manhattan, in proximity to rail transit — would be paid significantly more than those living farther away.

  • Mitch

    I agree that teachers should, ideally, live in the neighborhoods they serve. It might make sense to ask new teachers — who are generally young and unencumbered — to move near the school where they teach.

    But experienced teachers have been around for a while, and they have usually accumulated spouses, children, mortgages and other obligations. Do we want to say that a high-needs school should not try to hire these people unless they have a good way to get to work without a car?

    If there’s a superabundance of qualified teachers in every neighborhood in New York that sort of rule might make sense.

    My own inclination would be to give parking permits to teachers who can demonstrate a need to drive, and free or discounted Metrocards to the others. That’s not what UFT wants, but it makes sense to me.

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