Monday, April 09, 2007

Vice Speaker Justo Quitugua

First off Mr. Vice Speaker Justo Quitugua, no one in PSS, including the commisioner, is "highly paid," or are earning the "big bucks." No one. A person with a master's degree and 30 years experience is capped at about half of what people like you just wasted on a lobbyist, $47,000.

As the salary guide is constructed now, I won't make another dime for six more years. There are no "in step" or "within grade" salary increases. Be responsible and read the actual salary guide where it clearly says that before you spread disinformation. Principals work twelve months for barely more money than teachers, and frankly, you would be insane to take a principal or vice principal's job when weighing the salary versus the hassle and time requirements. There is a reason a few principals returned to the classroom, retired young or simply left the system. Principals are especially underpaid here.

Instead of bashing the people who act as surrogate parents, teach children to read, write and count, yet are routinely punished for these good deeds, how about spending some time focusing on real waste in government. For starters, how many government officials went on junkets to Hawaii a few months ago? Did a single tangible benefit come from that? How many elected officials went to Washington to keep fighting to keep the "working poor" poor? Who just spent $90,000 for a lobbyist to try to keep the poor poor? Who is paying Jesus Camacho $4,000 per month for writing pro-administration letters during the campaign? Who allowed the CPA attorney to charge the government around $500,000? Who did nothing while the old MPLA partied on the taxpayer dime? A congressman's job is oversight and supervision, so you might be better off focusing on those things where there is actual waste and leaving PSS alone to handle the mess Capitol Hill created, enabled and perpetuates.

I will be actively reminding every teacher on this island of your recent comments near November when you are hopefully sent packing for this needless slap in the face to all teachers and principals in the commonwealth.

A great, more diplomatic response can be found here:

These are the comments to which I refer:

VICE Speaker Justo S. Quitugua says the Board of Education should temporarily suspend the merit and step increases to qualified Public School System teachers until funds are available.The Board of Education, he said, is considering a reduction in the number of children to be served by the Head Start program due to funding problems.Effective this school year, highly qualified teachers receiving the maximum $47,000 salary in accordance with the new PSS compensation scheme were provided a one-time lump sum differential that amounted to $2,300.These are teachers with masters degrees, 10 or more years of experience, who have professional certification and have passed the Praxis tests. The board has also approved a $3,000 bonus for highly qualified teachers who accept two-year teaching assignments for hard-to-fill positions on Rota and Tinian. “In this time of budget reductions,” Quitugua said, “PSS must not make any salary adjustments or pay increases. The merit and step increases can be stopped temporarily and the funds used for students instead.”


Vice Speaker Justo S. Quitugua, D-Saipan, said Borja should have taken the school system’s worsening financial situation into consideration.“The commissioner should not grant principals and vice principals exemption from the austerity law,” he said. “The principals and vice principals are highly paid and they should join other personnel in this sacrifice.”Quitugua said PSS should also suspend salary increases.“The money saved would prevent many students and personnel from departing our schools,” the vice speaker said.

“The commissioner should not grant principals and vice principals exemption from the austerity law,” he said. “The principals and vice principals are highly paid and they should join other personnel in this sacrifice.”


BoReGo said...

Well said Jeff! One thing that really needs further mentioning is the fact that the legislature has never mandated kindergarten, thus forcing schools to stretch their already miniscule budgets to prepare the youngest of learners. Get some rest, tomorrow we impact the future!

Anonymous said...

The irony of this is that Justo has not taken a 10% cut. He "donates" his salary to the scholarship office and takes the full amount of his "retirement."

If I were you, I'd get a grassroots movement going at PSS to force Mr. Quitugua to take that 10% cut...retroactively. You've already got two people on board. Get one more and you've got yourself a movement.

How many letters to the editor can you generate in the next two weeks?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

What he said, other than being ridiculous, was politically stupid. Teachers are the largest bureaucracy here. Teachers here though, politically, are a total disorganized and timid mess, so he might get away with it.

The Saipan Blogger said...

The 10% cut was an ill concieved idea from the beginning. It is nothing more than a band aid that has given the government time to allow the situation to get worse. To continue with the medical analogy, it was like prescribing Robitussin for Brain Cancer.

There should have been a combination of eliminating certain programs all together, cutting others, and actually increasing the budget of others.

There should have been some increased spending, too. It's called investment. Things won't get better without it.

My approach would have been politically smarter, too. You're allowed to piss off 49.9% of the population. To get reelected you only need 50% + your mom to vote for you.

Think about it, except for when a Bush invades Iraq, is a politician's approval ratings ever over 60%? Of course not.

BoReGo said...

I've been involved with a grassroots movement for 13 years. It's called education. Why is everyone's answer always rebel, revolt or get on the news and be the next crusader? I understand where you're coming from, but I just don't agree that it would be effective. For one thing, it's not me and it would reek of sensationalism if I tried. Jeez, Justo pissed me off, I wrote about it pissing me off, I am going to work tomorrow to do what I believe my calling is whether or not he continues to act like an ass about things. How many letters to the editor does it take to make people sick of letters to editor?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Well, issues should be written about because it aids in accountability, and it is cathartic to those aggrieved. I wouldn't say the problem, at least here, isn't too many people trying to get on the news or speak out, the problem is too few do. I try not to make my writings about people, and don't use names, just ideas. This is one of the first times I had to because this issue is organized by one person. If no one talks, the views are monopolized by the few and that isn't healthy in a democracy, so I don't agree on that one.

Education is certainly an effective method for change. Yvonne, also I met you during the Praxis training, and I've known Yvette for a while. GES was one of the better places I visited, and it was obvious your school has it together. I've known Dale for a while as well.

BoReGo said...

Yes, the pen is mightier, and in times like this, a smarter alternative. I learn from those who write from their hearts and have genuinely good agendas. There are many folks out there who have vendettas though, and that always turns me off.

Thank you for the kind words about GES. You were very courteous when you called the school. It's always refreshing to meet nice people and I enjoy reading your blog. My son goes to SSHS. He just started blogging too ( He won't admit it, but he has a great literary voice and if he works on it, he could be a great writer. But isn't that what all moms say?:)