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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teachers Unions Explained

Thanks to reader Mark for the link to this video, from the makers of Liberal Foreign Policy Explained, How Liberal Journalists Think, Liberal Taxes Explained, Feminism Explained, and Meet The Liberal Elite.

Update:  I don't usually add to these videos, but given what is going on in Providence, RI, and Madison, WI, I thought this report from The Providence Journal of the findings of a municpal finance review board would put things in perspective that much of the economic life of the City now goes to one thing and one thing only, union benefits :
The city’s annual required contribution — pegged at $59.4 million this year — is projected to increase dramatically over the next 28 years, rising to more than $210 million in 2039.

Those numbers, the report says, are unsustainable, sucking resources away from other needs. Last year, the city spent $109 million on retirement-related expenses. That was 18 percent of the city’s overall budget — money that could not be spent on schools, other city services or property tax relief — and more than a third of the money the city collected in property taxes.

Had the city contributed what it should have last year to the pension fund and retiree health care — $150 million — it would have equaled about one-fourth of the city’s annual budget and just over half of its yearly property-tax revenue.
The pension obligations above are not exclusively for teachers, but this report should give you an idea of many of the hidden benefits tucked within teachers union contracts:
The panel also suggested that the city reduce the amount of sick days that teachers receive. Teachers currently receive 20 sick days a year, excluding bereavement and two personal days. Since substitute teachers must cover teacher absences, the panel said that the “generous sick time allowance results in a substantial incremental cost to the city.”
“Everything is negotiable,” said Maribeth Calabro, vice president of the Providence Teachers Union. “We are amenable to change and we’re willing to come to the table.”
Well of course you are now that everything has hit the fan and the new Mayor has sent out termination notices, but for years it was almost impossible to squeeze out concessions.  It was a one way street, always up and up and up.

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  1. The Corner, and various conservative bloggers, have reported on a story about how a teacher, Wes Glenna of Two Rivers School District, sent a threatening letter to the owners of a silk-screen shop that had printed a t-shirt for a Two Rivers student that said "Scott Walker is My Hero".

    It seems that Mr. Glenna is involved heavily with the teacher's union and didn't like the fact that a student a) wanted to voice his opinion and b) the free market allowed the student to do just that.

    But a little search on the internet shows that Mr. Glenna is paid quite well for being a "Technology Education" teacher at the Two Rivers high school. His salary for the 2009-10 term was $62,386/yr plus $31,616 in "fringe" income (another word for benefits). The really ironic part of this was the income demographics of the district he teaches in. Median income was less that $20K/yr.

    Perhaps Mr. Glenna would like to tell the nation how "It's for the children" as the parents of his students struggle just to make ends meet while he enjoys a salary where he got a 4.5% raise this year?

  2. Thanks for presenting this information "factually" and without apparent bias. The facts are the facts, and obviously fiscal responsibility is the only way out. Sad thing to me, is the fact that SO few media sources are even talking how to improve education in America, which is obviously in dire need of improvement, from parents to teachers to administrators. What did you think of the documentary "Waiting for Superman"? I'd love to hear your thoughts,if you have time.

  3. heh, brilliant!

    I have some teacher friends that haven't de-friended (or is it unfriended? Who knew 'friend' was a verb?) me on facebook yet, this should do the trick...

  4. Retire05

    That is the case in most small towns. Teachers are the wealthy class and the taxpayers are struggling just to pay off their mortgage on their modest home and put food on the table. Like my grandparents had to do they will probably have to sell it when they get old because they will not be able to afford the taxes. There you have the blind insensitivity of collectivism. How cold and heartless to kick an elderly person out of their home.

  5. 1. I'd be willing to pay the teachers at or above their accustomed level if American students--at the median and Olympiad levels--were competitive with their Asian counterparts in science and math.

    Of course, if that were true, the economy would be in better shape, and the fiscal crisis, including the school part, would be correspondingly less serious.

    2. I'll run this up the flagpole so people can shoot at it:

    How about a Grand Bargain: unionization for government teachers in exchange for school vouchers?

  6. @gs, no deal. Unionization would continue and vouchers will somehow prove to be "expensive" and "unworkable." I say: privatize all schools to contracting companies. Win-win-win-win for state budgets, parents, children and even for the teachers who will be able to take pride in their work for a change.

  7. Here in New Jersey, one can say without equivocation that for decades the one constant with the Legislature -- pretty much regardless of who (D or R --mostly D) was in charge -- was that the NJEA has literally owned the place.

    What Governor Chris Christie is doing today is a response to the decades of paying the "wages of sin", with surprisingly little in the way of educational results to show for it. No one has previously been willing to address it. Whatever question arose, the answer was always the same . . . "More money!"

    There have been instances of the State having to step in and completely take over in a few urban areas where rampant corruption, especially in the school administrations, became so bad that they would have completely collapsed without such intervention.

    But the constant factor has been to pour money, hand over fist, especially at the urban school systems. That has been driven from the State level, fully enabled by a state Supreme Court that has always been willing to step in and turn a vague and nebulous state constitutional mandate to "provide a thorough and efficient" school system, into a ballooning guide star for requiring tax increases and other Legislative action to hike education costs right through the roof. That has been the primary fiscal theme of the past 40 years here in the Garden State.

    The teacher's union could and did kill, or at least minimize, every single sensible effort to reform education policy that included lowering or stabilizing costs that came down the pike, including ones that merely tried to give parents incentives to choose where to send their children, or tried to stem unnecessary or unproductive expenditures.

    This is by far the best of these clips.


  8. The two people in the video are obviously paid actors. I've never seen a lefty peppered with that many questions of her beliefs without flying into a rage.