- A second-grade teacher at an Elementary school in San Fransisco is battling breast cancer and is on sick leave for the remainder of the year.
- Parents were outraged when they learned that the daily cost of a substitute teacher was coming from her paycheck.
- California laws allow for the cost of a substitute to be deducted from a teachers paycheck when the teacher takes extended sick leave.
California Teachers & Sick Leave
A second-grade teacher in San Francisco, who is battling cancer and on sick leave for the remainder of the school year, has part of her paycheck deducted to cover the cost of the substitute teacher for her class.
The school, Glen Park Elementary, allows for teachers to take ten paid sick days a year. If more days are needed after the initial ten, teachers can take a sick leave of up to 100 days, but that is when the cost of a substitute becomes their responsibility. While the amount of paid sick days vary among school districts, incurring the cost of a substitute is a statewide law.
This law has been in effect since 1976 but is not well known and caused widespread outrage when the news first broke. According to the San Francisco Chronical, the cost of a substitute teacher in San Francisco can be anywhere from $174.66 to $240.26 a day.
Parents of the second-grade class started a GoFundMe to help their children’s teacher. According to local reports, the goal of the fundraiser was $10,000 to offset the cost of her medical expenses, loss of income, and the substitute teacher’s pay. The GoFundMe has since been closed and raised over $13,000.
Teachers Battle for Rights
In California, teachers are not covered by Social Security, meaning they do not pay into specific programs like state disability insurance. This, in turn, makes it legal for the state to require a deduction for the cost of a substitute, even if one is not hired to cover the absent teacher’s class.
Originally, all state employees were left out of the 1935 Social Security Act. When the act was amended in the 1950s, many states chose to extend Social Security coverage to state workers, while the rest implemented state pension plans. The pension plan was an attractive alternative years ago when states believed they could provide better care, but that is no longer the case. A 2017 study found that for a teacher’s pension to be worth more than their own contribution, they have to teach for an average of 25 years.
“That means teachers…must wait at least two-and-a-half decades before their retirement benefit is worth more than what they’ve put in themselves,” the study showed.
New teachers have expressed how hard it is to become eligible for their school districts pension plans. TeacherPensions.org explains that states tend to set a required minimum of five to ten years of service before they qualify for retirement benefits. This leaves over 50 percent of teachers without a pension and adds to the years they must work for a secure future.
There are 15 states, including California, where public employees are still not covered by Social Security. The former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, has previously stated his support for school districts to participate in the State Disability Insurance program.
The president of the California Teachers Association, Eric Heins, says that for years this has been the norm for teachers and they just accept it.
“What it really is, is a reflection of how financially strapped the system has been for so long,” Heins told the Washington Post.
However, some government officials say they did not even know of the law until the story broke.
“I just learned of this issue, and it seems kind of outrageous,” State Senator Connie Leyva told NBC LA. “Candidly, I think the times have changed, and now it’s our job to change with the times.”
In addition to the GoFundMe for the teacher in San Francisco, her students have planned to host bake sales to help with future costs.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Yahoo News) (BBC)
Billionaire Pledges to Pay Loan Debt of This Year’s Morehouse College Graduates
- Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loan debt of the 2019 graduates at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black school in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Though the exact amount of the class’ debt is still being calculated, the gift is expected to be around $40 million.
- This is just one of Smith’s major donations in recent years.
A Generous Gift
Billionaire tech investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith said he will pay off the student debt for all graduates in Morehouse College’s class of 2019.
Smith announced the news on Sunday while delivering the commencement address at the all-male historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” he said. “This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
His announcement shocked the nearly 400 graduates, who reacted with cheers and applause.
One graduating student named Aaron Mitchom told the Associated Press that he had drawn up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay off his $200,000 in student debt. According to his math, it would take him about 25 years.
“I can delete that spreadsheet,” he told the AP after the commencement. “I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off.”
Brandon Manor, another graduate, told the New York Times, “Now all of a sudden, I can look at schools I might not have considered, because I am not applying with about $100,000 in undergraduate loans.”
Who is Robert F. Smith?
The 56-year-old who originally hails from Colorado but now lives in Austin went to Cornell for his undergraduate degree and earned a B.S. in chemical engineering. Afterward, Smith earned his MBA from Columbia Business School.
He went on to work for several companies like Kraft General Foods and then Goldman Sachs, advising companies like Apple and Microsoft before founding his own investment firm.
What does this gift mean?
Smith’s pledge stunned administrators, who called it the largest single gift in the school’s history. The donation also comes at a time where student loan debt has soared to roughly $1.5 trillion, according to recent Federal Reserve data.
Morehouse President David A. Thomas called the gesture “a liberation gift,” telling CNN, “When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained.”
“(Smith’s gift) gives them the liberty to follow their dreams, their passions.”
According to Thomas, the total amount of student debt for the class is still being calculated but the Associated Press estimated that the gift is worth about $40 million.
In return, Smith says he expects the graduating class to pay it forward to give future classes the same opportunity one day.
“Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community,” he said.
“We are enough to ensure we have all of the opportunities of the American dream, and we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”
Other Major Donations
The billionaire tech executive has managed to stay under the radar for much of his career. While this major donation has thrust him into the spotlight, it is far from his first generous gift.
In 2016, he pledged a $20 million gift to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. That same year, he donated $50 million to Cornell University to go towards its chemical and biomolecular engineering school, and to support black and female engineering students.
In 2017, Smith signed The Giving Pledge, a commitment by some of the world’s richest people – including Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet – who have promises to giving most of their wealth to philanthropy. In 2018, he gave $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to focus on research and care for African-American men and veterans with prostate cancer.
Before Sunday’s graduation speech, Smith had already donated $1.5 million to Morehouse for scholarships and a new park.
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Is it possible we’ve been visited by intelligent alien life? News outlets have often disregarded this question as ludicrous. However, that attitude may be changing.
In this video, we’ll look at why several well-respected scientists from places like NASA and Harvard believe it’s possible we may have already been visited by an intelligent alien life form.
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The water crisis in Flint, Michigan served as a wakeup call about the dangers of lead poisoning for young children, but a recent report shows that schools across the nation are still failing to provide safe drinking water for millions of students, potentially exposing them to a lifetime of developmental delays and other severe health consequences.