Anytime a state or school system has financial problems, conservatives tend to argue that teachers are paid too much and the system can’t get out of hock because of the big bad teachers union. Jack Kelly, a columnist with the Toledo Blade, goes back to that well to attack public employees in general and teachers and unions specifically.
In 2009, state and local government employees had total compensation packages that averaged $39.66 an hour, 45 percent more than the $27.42 an hour earned by workers in the private sector, according to a study by the Cato Institute.
Education is a good example. A whopping 27 cents of every state and local tax dollar goes to K-12 education. In 2008, according to the Center for Education Reform, $10,889 was spent per student in public schools.
Public employees make too much
Kelly is barking up the wrong tree for a couple of reasons.
Teaching is a profession and as such someone can’t be a teacher unless they graduate from college. It isn’t like making butter knives where someone off the street can be trained for a couple of weeks and do the job. In order for a teacher to get a raise they have to increase their education level. The teachers who make the most money are the ones who have the highest level of education themselves. Teachers can’t just pick up a teaching job in the private sector. Private schools that hire usually stick with new teachers with only the minimum education.
Education isn’t a factory where labor is merely a variable cost. We are talking about an important part of our lives, the education of our children. I don’t think any parent would want to outsource education on the cheap. Many towns and cities “value” is in part due to the quality of the schools. Those areas with “poor” schools don’t grow and improve. It is a lot cheaper to spend money on better schools than to build new roads.
Why is it teachers have to take the hit when a school is in money trouble? No one really talks about the administrators who make more than a teacher and we don’t hear about cutting the perks those administrators get like a car allowance for example.
It seems that went cuts are needed teachers and books get the ax first. That is insane since that is the reason the educational system exists – education – without teachers or books there isn’t education.
The argument against the teacher’s union is simply silly.
It takes two to tango. No school district is forced to sign a union contract with teachers. That goes for any entity signing a contract with any union.
I’ve taken classes on how to bust unions and I know if push came to shove a school district could get out of having the union contract. It would be messy but if the issue is serious enough to do it then they should. People like Kelly attack unions because they want a scapegoat and not show any responsibility to the other group that signs the contracts.
Let’s stop the hate on teachers and unions and deal with real ways to save money as long it doesn’t hurt the children or undercut education.