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The Audacity of Teacher Unions February 4, 2008

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.

The more we learn about the teacher unions, the more astonished we grow. Downingtown teachers went on strike even though they were offered pay raises above the rate of inflation.  And the existing numbers are enough to make regular folks not in the public service reconsider their professions: Starting salary for a union teacher in the Downingtown Area School District (DASD) is $43,300, plus defined-benefit pension, excellent healthcare, and effective lifetime tenure in a job requiring only eight hours of attendance a day for 9 months a year. The top union wage in the DASD is already $81,815, and the average is $58,915.

Converting these salaries into annualized numbers for those of us accustomed to working full-time, year-round, we’d be looking at a fresh college graduate earning $57,700, the average teacher making $78,500, and some teachers making over $109,000! (Never mind trying to put a price on the extraordinary non-salary benefits.)

According to the Daily Local (1/31/08):

When the board’s negotiation team gave the union its final offer, the union rejected it and asked for both sides to enter binding arbitration. Binding arbitration brings in a third party to decide the outcome of the negotiations. Instead, the board rejected the idea of binding arbitration and asked for nonbinding arbitration without a strike. But the union rejected the offer.

Political insiders have explained that unions love binding arbitration because the arbitrators are notoriously biased in their favor. The school board issued a public letter explaining its reluctance to go this route:

It is important for the community to understand that in demanding binding arbitration, the union is asking the board to by-pass Pennsylvania law and take away our community’s right to have their elected officials make the ultimate decision in determining the district’s financial future.

The board’s letter also noted:

The board negotiates with the union a specific sum of money that will be used for salaries. It is the union leadership who determines what percentage each step on the teacher’s salary matrix.

That’s right: The teacher union is run like a gang of brigands. Union bosses are the ones who actually determine how the plunder gets divvied up.

Teacher unions are violently opposed to merit or performance pay. So if you wonder why paying the union more doesn’t buy better teachers, just ask the insiders who are raking in six-figure salaries how they distinguished themselves in the public service. And why they think they deserve even more.



1. federalist - May 19, 2009

Did you know that public school teachers still get “sabbaticals?” Apparently working 35-hour weeks 9 months a year can burn you out, so every seven years teachers can take a break and still receive 50% of their pay!

2. anonymousteacher - October 31, 2009

You clearly do not have experience working in today’s classroom. It can burn you out. The amount of energy, emotion, time and money that can go into creating positive classrooms and great learning opportunites for students cannot be fathomed by someone who has not spent extended time in a classroom – as a teacher. While you may have experience with teachers that only work 35 hours, 9 months a year, I don’t know a single one out of the 70 in my building that does so. The contract hours are only face time in the school and DO NOT reflect how much time after regular school hours, outside of school, on weekends, over the summer that is dedicated to the job. I’m not going to hold my breath, but it would be really refreshing if you would open your eyes and your mind. Why don’t you just ask some teachers how much time they spend working on school related activities (like grading, planning, professional development, buying classroom materials- most likely with their own money) outside of contract hours?

3. papundit - November 2, 2009

So in contrast to your union do you approve of merit pay to reward the teachers like you who do more than their contract requires? If so what have you done about it? Because your union ensures that you are only rewarded for holding on to your job for as long as possible … and as you admit, the job can burn you out, so your highest-paid colleagues are likely the senior ones doing the bare minimum to hold out for a full pension.

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