My daughter is a teacher for Hoboken’s Early Childhood Program, teaching in Brandt School. Her direct employer is Catapult Learning LLC. As best I understand it, they are contracted by the Hoboken Board of Education to provide services to three and four year olds enrolled in the Early Childhood Program.
She has just begun her third year in her position of teacher and she loves her job, absolutely loves. She has a genuine, caring relationship with her students. As this school year began she was affectionately greeted by last year’s students looking for a familiar, comforting face, as she met and reassured her incoming class that all would be well as she hugged and dried their tears. Her relationship with “her kids” goes beyond the classroom as they excitedly encounter each other either meeting on the streets of Hoboken or at the restaurant where she works part time. They always need to sit at her table. She was completely engaged, and looking forward to this new school year.
Unfortunately upon returning to the classroom she, along with the other teachers and classroom assistants, were informed that Catapult Learning had decided to amend their policies and now consider all employees working a 30 hour week to be part-time employees and will no longer be eligible for health insurance benefits. Granted school hours are usually 8:30 to 2:30. But the thought that a teacher is paid only for their time in the classroom is flawed. To be a good teacher, there is so much more time invested outside the classroom that is not directly associated with compensation. They’re not hiring a babysitter to work per hour; this is a profession. For teachers the day is not over when the dismissal bell rings. Take into account lesson planning, progress reports, parent-teacher conferences, orientations, meet and greets; all done outside the regular school hours. Many studies conclude that teachers work as long or longer than the typical 40 hour work week without direct hourly compensation.
Needless to say, the loss of health benefits is an upsetting proposition. She was hired as a full time teacher with benefits and now those benefits are being taken away. She feels degraded and under appreciated. She has quietly gone along with the policy when salaries have remained the same over the past three years. And now this. It is unfortunate that Catapult has so little regard for the people to whom they are entrusting their precious, young clients.
We all know that the cost of health care is skyrocketing, but I urge Catapult to take a second look at the situation and try to work out a solution that will be reasonable to all parties.
Proud mother of a dedicated teacher