So there's a lot in the press about Wisconson Legislature action to remove collective bargaining. Typical main-stream media pits the unions against legislature in a 'battle'. The Press makes the unions out to be the 'good guys' and the republicans and tea party the 'bad guys.' Yes, good vs. evil makes for sensational press. Where are the facts? Lets do the fact roundup the main stream media should be doing.
First of all, from the Wall Street Journal, the astounding fact that teacher benefits are three times that of the private sector:
The showdown in Wisconsin over fringe benefits for public employees boils down to one number: 74.2. That's how many cents the public pays Milwaukee public-school teachers and other employees for retirement and health benefits for every dollar they receive in salary. The corresponding rate for employees of private firms is 24.3 cents... The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools.What? You mean public teacher benefits are three times that of the average taxpayer? Incredible, an astounding fact -- why is that not at the top of every story in the mainstream media? Because the media isn't about facts, but about the battle between good vs. evil. Come here for facts. The WSJ goes on:
What these numbers ultimately prove is the excessive power of collective bargaining. The teachers' main pension plan is set by the state legislature, but under the pressure of local bargaining, the employees' contribution is often pushed onto the taxpayers. In addition, collective bargaining led the Milwaukee public school district to add a supplemental pension plan—again with no employee contribution. Finally, the employees' contribution (or lack thereof) to the cost of health insurance is also collectively bargained.
As the costs of pensions and insurance escalate, the governor's proposal to restrict collective bargaining to salaries—not benefits—seems entirely reasonable.Agreed. While bringing outrageous public teacher benefits in line with those of the average taxpayer (those that have to pay their salaries) makes a lot of sense, it won't fix America's broken educational system. A lot of other reforms are necessary. Time Magazine (!) a no-nonsense listing of teacher reforms:
5 New Rules for All Teachers
Restrictions on evaluation -- Provisions in teachers contracts limit who can do evaluations, how often, and even specify how much notice a teacher must be given prior to being observed. In most professional workplaces, by contrast, evaluation is ongoing and both formal and informal.
Last in, first out.-- With layoffs looming policies that require "last in, first out" are hotly debated around the country. These rules, which can be found in both state law and union teachers' contracts, require that teachers be laid-off according to seniority only, without attention to classroom effectiveness.... abundant research shows clearly that longevity alone is not a great predictor of effectiveness... Bottom line: In any organization that is serious about effectiveness quality-blind layoffs are nothing short of insane.
Forced transfers and "bumping." --[S]eniority confers a set of powerful rights when it comes to transferring to new schools. In practice this means veterans can bump teachers with less seniority when jobs open up or that principals are limited in who they can choose from when filling positions... When The New Teacher Project analyzed this practice, they found that the policy contributed to newer teachers leaving teaching. But parents don't need a wonky report to get the basic problem here: Shouldn't individual schools get to decide who teaches in them? (See how to fix teacher tenure without the pass-fail grade.)
Tenure and due process rules.-- Earlier this month an arbitrator in Washington, D.C. gave 75 teachers - including chronically absent and demonstrably low-performing ones - their jobs back over a technical due process issue.... [E]ducation policy tenure is now under attack in a number of states where various rules are found as part of both state law and in collective bargaining agreements...even teachers union leaders agree that in many cases the rules are out of hand.
Inflexible Salary Schedules. --Today teachers are overwhelmingly paid based on two factors, length of service and degrees. Salaries are based on master schedules with columns for degrees and rows for years of service so a teacher moves across lanes and up the steps as their career progresses. Most professions pay more for experience but there is little evidence that most additional degrees improve teaching... The rules of economics don't stop at the schoolhouse door and school superintendents privately complain about having to pay physical education teachers and physics teachers the same amount even though it's easier to find coaches than physicists.What Time magazine author Andrew J. Rotherham has described is a teacher universe where there is no competition. Teachers don't need to compete with each other... in fact there is no premium for having mastered the ability to teach higher mathematics over Phys. Ed. As a teacher, if you get tired of explaining new math, just jump over to PE and work out five times a week. In a world where there are no meaningful evaluations, it's nearly impossible to fire a teacher. Seems to me if you want to fix education, let teachers compete, eliminate these 'protections'. They only protect teachers from their own stupidity. When teachers compete, students win. Simple enough.
After all, isn't teaching a white-collar profession? The union protectionists would have you believe that we should treat teachers like unskilled laborers. As if laying a railroad tie is similar to home economics. They have nothing in common. In my white-collar profession, I am an at-will employee, I can be terminated without cause any time. I constantly have to earn my pay and am constantly evaluated by my clients and peers. Why not teach teachers that competition will make things better for everyone? Then, they can teach our children the same thing.
Not only do teachers have gold-plated benefit package, they don't have to compete with each other for work and they can elect their own boss! That's what happens when a 'teachers representative' gets on the school board, Or in the Mayor's office. That's when the incest takes over, when teachers elect their own boss into government, who are supposed to be 'governing' but are just taking handouts from unions. No wonder democrats are running for the hills. Their meal ticket is about to lose the sweetheart deal. The cycle will bust if the unions fail to own the government. Ann Coulter's take on it is appropriate to quote at length.
In fact, government employees should never, ever be allowed to organize.
The need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.
Government unions have nothing in common with private sector unions because they don't have hostile management on the other side of the bargaining table. To the contrary, the "bosses" of government employees are co-conspirators with them in bilking the taxpayers.
Far from being careful stewards of the taxpayers' money, politicians are on the same side of the bargaining table as government employees -- against the taxpayers, who aren't allowed to be part of the negotiation. This is why the head of New York's largest public union in the mid-'70s, Victor Gotbaum, gloated, "We have the ability to elect our own boss."
Democratic politicians don't think of themselves as "management." They don't respond to union demands for more money by saying, "Are you kidding me?" They say, "Great -- get me a raise too!"
Democrats buy the votes of government workers with generous pay packages and benefits -- paid for by someone else -- and then expect a kickback from the unions in the form of hefty campaign donations, rent-a-mobs and questionable union political activity when they run for re-election.
But government workers think the job of everyone else in the economy is to protect their high salaries, crazy work rules and obscene pensions. They self-righteously lecture us about public service, the children, a "living wage" -- all in the service of squeezing more money from the taxpayer to fund their breathtakingly selfish job arrangements.So, there you have it. Lets review the facts:
- Public School Teachers get gold-plated benefit package is three times as big as the average taxpayer benefit package.
- Public School Teachers don't compete for their jobs.
- Public School Teachers have jobs for life, they are almost impossible to fire.
- As white collar professionals, they are actually being abused by being treated as unskilled laborers.
- Public School Teachers unionize to elect their own bosses, pay their boss' election and re-election through their salaries, which are... approved by the government that will not govern.
Bottom Line: When government control of products and services, everyone loses. Sure, for the short term, some individuals in the union benefit, but in the long term, our kids and our country lose. I'm willing to bet a lot of money that Phillips Exeter Academy does not have a union representing its teachers. Our students deserve better than unionized instructors that can't be fired, can do nothing and still collect a check. Our students deserve to have competition for who instructs them.
For additional reading: Obama Flexes for Unions. Big Time
The Persistence of Politics, Union Style
Teacher Union Contract Clause of the Day
Appeasing the Teachers Unions Again
Socialist Teachers, Unions and ACORN Use Children in Pitiful Power Grab