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The Teachers Are Revolting
Last week, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin gave each Oklahoma public school teacher a massive 15 to 18 percent pay raise funded by the largest tax increase in state history. To show their appreciation, teachers went on strike demanding even more money. Today, 200 Oklahoma school districts are shut down, with students going uneducated and parents scrambling for daycare.
Similar protests have been taking place in Kentucky, Arizona, and West Virginia. What do all these states have in common? Republicans hold the governorship and both legislative chambers. But it’s totally non-partisan and for the children … or something.
West Virginia teachers kicked off the protests with a two-week strike last month. The state government gave them a 5 percent raise to get them back to work.
The Kentucky legislature passed a bill to reform the unsustainable state pension system last week so today all of Kentucky’s public schools are closed and thousands of teachers are protesting at the state capitol. Almost no one in the private sector has a pension, but taxpayers aren’t allowed even to tweak the extravagant pensions of government workers.
In Arizona, teachers and students have mobbed the state capitol and the governor’s office demanding a whopping 20 percent raise. Various schools organized “sick-outs” last month, with teachers feigning illness to avoid doing their jobs. Now teachers unions are threatening a statewide strike unless their outrageous demand is met.
Like most non-government workers, I’ve gone years at a time without a raise. For the same reason, I have been laid-off due to a bad economy. A pension? As if. Yet I never picketed my various employers, stopped showing up to work, or demanded that my overtaxed neighbors pony up cash.
I’m sure that teachers believe they’re underpaid; pretty much everyone thinks they’re underpaid. But they should remember that the vast majority of taxpayers also are struggling and have been for a long time. These strikes aren’t harming politicians, but kids and their parents. And the last thing an angry parent wants to do is to give more money to people making their lives miserable.
Meanwhile, all the teachers are showing up at my kids’ charter schools here in Arizona. I expect that a lot of new students will be joining them in the fall.Published in Education
It’s time to end public employee unions period. This is a parasite that will kill its host if something isn’t done.
Truly sickening. Maybe they do earn less annually than other workers, but they have three months off in the summer, which they never seem to take into account.
“The Teachers are Revolting”
Insert Groucho Marx brow/cigar waggle here: “I’ll say they are!”
There is no more proletariat.
They provide way worse outcomes than teachers in other countries who work for similar pay.
Are strikes by public employees legal in these states? If not, Reagan and PATCO come to mind.
If teachers want more pay, they should demand school districts layoff administrators.
I don’t think schools are worth the investment right now, let alone add more.
They do get a lot of time off every year, and it is the most family friendly career you can have. That has to be worth something.
Administration has skyrockted, and a lot has to deal with Federal requirements, although some more regulatory happy states (such as California) are likely to have their own. Any private business will tell you that more regulations require more manpower just to deal with the massive amounts of paperwork that accompanies such. Schools, being public entities, don’t mind this as much because the State just assumes that they can find and shovel more tax money their way.
Once again, adults using children to get something for themselves. I am not alone in believing if the whole thing was scrapped, it could be a blessing. I’ve heard David Galetner and Anthony Esolen both say it isn’t worth reforming. Neither are stupid, and both work in education.
Fire all of them. There are more home schooling parents than public school teachers by a factor of two or three. They can very easily be replaced.
Every year they take over the Minnesota capital. They have signs and they scream and yell while their union bosses overlook it from a balcony. It’s so weird.
The aggregate value would go way up if they just collected the money the same way but let the parents spend the money almost anyway they want.
Black kids just get destroyed by the education system in Minnesota. It’s called the achievement gap. It never improves.
By people willing to do the jobs that Americans won’t do?
The administration and bureaucracy would remain in place, unfortunately, and the unions maintain monopoly and needn’t deliver as long as they have a few decent teachers to hide behind.
No kidding. I wish I had the pay and benefits I had 12 years ago.
The other thing about Minnesota is the teachers union pensions are seriously underfunded and I forget what the deal is, but in reality it’s quite hard to get genuinely vested. They basically just steal money from the young teachers, in effect.
Now really Jon don’t you think it would go more smoothly to just fire all of the teachers. After all, they haven’t done any teaching in years anyway. Who would notice? This would free up the administrators to concentrate on what they’re really good at. You know, social justice, world peace, and even more salary demands.
Let’s be realistic.
Good. Keep the schools shut down. Make parents angry. Make parents demand teachers not belong to unions, and demand teachers be thankful they have jobs in the first place.
Teaching used to be considered a calling, a noble profession. Now, they’re about as grateful as transit workers who go on strike, leaving thousands who depend on them stranded. In this case, it’s the children who are stranded, but given what they’re taught these days, maybe it’s not so bad . . .
The entire education system is nothing but a Keynesian graft and patronage system.
The U.S. government makes between 50 and 80 billion a year off of the spread between treasury rates and student loan rates. They have every interested in the Fed suppressing rates and education being as expensive as possible. How much of property taxation increases are just a function of Fed easy money?
You would have to tear up the rules to put them in the classroom in the first place. Teachers unions are the ones who have written the requirements for teachers.
Well, yes and no. As a former schoolteacher, I can tell you that some of that summer is spent taking development classes, working on classrooms, and preparing lesson plans for the upcoming year. Not all of it, but it’s not like they walk away at the end of the school year and don’t darken the door again until the following school year starts.
The lack of any kind of market pricing is killing education and the country. This started a long time ago.
Anything that destroys the public school indoctrination system — I’m all for. These teachers should take the rest of the year off. And then not come back in the fall. The gravest threat to the American idea is the education establishment. A majority of kids coming through this system believe America is irredeemably flawed and is worse than any other western country in the world. That didn’t happen by accident.
This has been going on so long, a lot of public school teachers have been indoctrinated, too.
Wreck the system! Never let a crisis go to waste!
Reason one million and one why parents should live modestly on one income and home school their kids.
So I was actually in the Kentucky state legislature, talking to legislators from Northern Kentucky, Louisville Metro, and a few members of the leadership a week before that vote, talking to them about pension reform for some research I’m doing.
Summary of the problem: Kentucky’s pensions are in really bad shape in some parts of the state, but in other parts of the state are basically fine. As you might expect, the bad parts of the state are the poor parts of the state. The parts of the pension system in crisis relate to Medicaid services. Medicaid is about $10B, most of that federal. The state budget for the year is $20B. The prospect of state Medicaid services crashing and taking with it a lot of federal money has concentrated the Senate’s attention.
To shore this up, they needed about $5B, give or take. The basic reform to the state pensions wasn’t that big a deal (shifting prospectively from a defined benefit to a hybrid-cash-balance system that guaranteed an 4% return, now guaranteed to get the average of a 10 year window return). The big deal was doing that and also finding $5B. They got some of that money by changing the treatment of accrued sick days (you can no longer use them to retire early) and by altering the actuarially required contribution (ARC) to a higher rate, and shifting to a “level dollar” accounting, which requires you to put the same amount of money in now as you will in the future, rather than allow you to put more money in the accounts in the future when inflation and payroll growth have made it easier. Most of the gain, though, was from eliminating the guaranteed Cost of Living Adjustment (about $3B).
The legislators were pretty solicitous to the local officials -they understand the difficulty of having to increase your personnel costs 50% in a single year, but faced with losing Medicaid money (and other quasi-governmental organization), they had to get the money somewhere, and that meant a single year jump, unless they could get more money out of the basic reform to cover the phase-in. The local officials for their part were unconvinced, and were chatting about various ways they could cover the added costs by screwing the state in various ways. But everyone was at least calm and collected during the discussions.
Teachers were universally considered belligerent and unreasonable, and pretty much every GOP legislator was willing to do the COLA elimination simply out of spite at this point. I spoke with some of the teachers, and the vast majority of their complaints were about the governor -but they were complaining to the legislators, who, after weeks of harranguing, no longer cared.
I’m actually surprised that the COLA was removed from the final bill. It must have muted either some of the teachers (obviously not all) or been required by some of the GOP legislators to pass.
Let me enlighten you on the totally corrupt pension system (at least in PA, and likely across most of the 50.) My lovely ex (and she was in fact quite lovely, and brilliant) was a high level science teacher in a local high school here in a suburb of Pittsburgh. She was a blue dog democrat. Conservative, union loving, democrat forever. She became VP of the local union, PSEA, and was head of the negotiating committee. The school board offers a pool of money, Say 5% per year for 3 years. They also negotiate a few benefits, and working conditions. Then it is up to the union to divvy the money out to the teachers. There is a scale. New teachers get paltry sums. middle teachers get a bit more, and those that are within 3 years of retirement get massive multi-step raises. typically 8 raises over the course of those three years. Why you ask? Because the pension formula is based not upon contributions, but 90% of your average pay during the last three years of employment. So the teachers end up getting massive, wonderful lifetime guaranteed pensions. Which are never adequately funded by union contributions. The School boards are complicit in this scam. You see, the local school district is not responsible for the pension cost. The State is. So you will also see the school boards offering teachers in these last 3 years early retirement buyouts, which include lump sum distributions, and formulae that calculate the expected average salary, had the teacher stayed for his full retirement time. If you want reform, target this pension scam. It makes my blood boil. I could write a few more posts about union thuggery and amazingly bad behaviors. Final note, my lovely ex tried her best to level the pay scale field, with slight results. Those teachers near retirement age threatened severe repercussions for those who might dare deny them those 6 figure+ pensions. (and of course lifetime golden health insurance policies, with no co-pays and minimal deductibles) Makes my blood boil.
When I talk to teachers, I am amazed at how little information many of them possess about the pay and benefits in non-governmental jobs, and the sense of entitlement they have on regular raises, pensions, and medical insurance.
Apart from the budget issue, this structure has been brought up for some time as encouraging long-serving but poor quality teachers to stay on the job and discourages teachers who would be effective for some years but know that they won’t be able to sustain their effectiveness for 30 years. It’s part of the system that rewards longevity, not quality.
Lots of hate for teachers here. Sad. Activists always make the majority look bad. I don’t whine and moan about my pay, retirement, and insurance. It’s decent. I chose the profession knowing there were income limitations.
However. Teachers do not get 3 months off a year. We are considered 9 month employees. You can choose to have your annual salary distributed over 9 or 12 months, but you are only paid for 9.
Bad teachers work exactly what they have to. Good teachers work far in excess. There is no difference in pay. Bad teachers are hard to fire. Good teachers can’t really be rewarded financially. It’s not a good set up – it breeds resentment from all stakeholders. Well, except the bad teachers. They like it just fine.
Also, it may be really tempting to blame a lot on unions, but the same problems exist in Right to Work states. There is no silver bullet.