Morning Read: About those teacher salaries

Three of the region’s newspapers are wrestling with the question of school budgets and teacher salaries.

In this morning’s Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Stephen Bartlett points out that Peru’s school district has roughly a $4 million budget shortfall next year.

The biggest chunk of that shortfall is caused by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts, but a sizable portion comes in the form of negotiated cost-increases for school teachers.

The district also estimates a $358,000 increase in negotiated raises, $412,000 more in health-insurance premiums, an extra $211,000 in retirement-system contributions for support staff and another $372,000 for contributions to the teacher-retirement system…

This might be an obvious time to question whether salary increases are timely, or whether teachers should pick up more of their own insurance payments, as Governor Cuomo has suggested.

In a column, meanwhile, Glens Falls Post-Star editor Ken Tingley argues that it’s time for every school district to have this wrenching, painful discussion.

The only place schools can save big chunks of money is with salary givebacks – or layoffs – and increases in employee contributions to health care.

That’s where the conversation should start.

Each and every school board should be asking its employees if they are willing to give back their raises or contribute more to their health insurance.

Governor Cuomo, obviously, is lobbying teachers, their administrators, and their unions hard to convinced them to choose the salary cuts option whenever possible.  Here’s a statement he released over the weekend, via the Albany Times-Union.

“I commend the administrators and faculty of the West Genesee School District who have taken a voluntary salary freeze. These are the type of tough but smart decisions school districts across New York should be making. West Genesee clearly understands the economic pressures we are facing and other school districts should follow this example.”

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, meanwhile, is reporting that very few districts in the North Country appear to be able to rely on their cash reserves to hold their budgets steady for next year.

Most appear to be scrambling for ways to cut costs dramatically.

So what do you think?  We’ve already seen widespread teacher cuts in the region.  Is it time for another squeeze, or is Governor Cuomo misguided?

UPDATE: (from David S.) – The New York Times is reporting this morning Cuomo wants to reduce the reimbursements districts get for sharing services through BOCES.  His budget staff says the reimbursements have been rising too fast.

But education officials say this would provide a disincentive for schools to do what Cuomo has urged them to do…consolidate:

“I think we are an excellent example of what the state has been promoting: sharing services, consolidation, saving dollars and providing equitable opportunities for all students in the state,” said Sandra Simpson, chief operating officer of Southern Westchester Boces, which serves 33 districts, including Scarsdale, New Rochelle and White Plains. “Why dismantle a system that is working so well and that people depend on?”

BOCES plays a huge role in the rural North Country.

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67 Comments on “Morning Read: About those teacher salaries”

  1. JDM says:

    Paying a tiny portion of their health benefits will go a long way to help balance the numbers, and it’s the reasonable thing to do.

  2. Mervel says:

    For me as a parent consumer of public education in the North Country I would like them to look at quality first before making random cuts. Why would we lay off classroom teachers and not lay off one single administrator?

    I don’t think we have considered all of the options for cost savings. Classroom teachers salaries are only one part of the salary component of a school system. We should start with non-classroom salary reductions and layoffs; counselors, speech therapists, reading teachers, school psychologists, assistant principles, and administrators first before you start laying off classroom teachers who are the heart and soul of education.

  3. dbw says:

    Current contracts need to be honored. I think most teachers and public service employees understand that future contracts may have one or two years of zero increases. It has happened before. As a male I have been uneasy about the teacher bashing, often wondering if it was because teaching remains a predominantly female profession. Am I the only one who has noticed that in Wisconsin, the governor is beating up on the ladies, while predominantly male law enforcement and firefighters were treated differently? It may be simply that these folks supported him, and it is political payback, but one has to wonder.
    JDM is right. One regional school district called teachers bluff and gave a first year contract increase of several per cent in exchange for a 10% contribution to health ins. by staff. The numbers worked for both sides.

  4. John Warren says:

    We’ve spent $3 billion in 2010 alone for US-Canada border security.

    How about a story on our priorities instead of constant stories about how much it cost to educate children and how much workers make?

    The last time I checked, the big costs in our lives is police, health insurance, and the out-sized defense budget.

    When will our local media start reporting the truth about our economic woes?

  5. Bret4207 says:

    I don’t think the sex of teachers has anything to do with this discussion, anything at all.

    I agree with Mervel that Administrators need thinning out more than teachers. In our local BOCES a new Superintendent was hired. He immediately requested 2 more hires to assist him. I believe in the end he was granted one additional person rather than 2, but the fact remains he took the job knowing the requirements and then was unwilling to do the job he accepted with out help. Things like that have to stop. The unfunded mandates that cost our local schools/gov’ts millions have to stop. I agree that as a group teachers and administration needs to start paying more of their insurance. It seems most other public employees already do this, why should our teachers be exempt? I pay to insure my family, they can too.

    As far as cuts and freezing salaries, it’s going to happen or our taxes are going to go through the roof. Add additional taxes to higher food and fuel costs and inflation and you have the recipe for tough times.

    I know I’ve worn out some ears with my forecasts of tough times folks, but look around you. Prepare a bit if you can.

  6. Pete Klein says:

    It is time for to find a new way to pay for education. The property tax method is antiquated.
    Education from wherever to wherever should be funded by the state and federal government through increase in the income tax.

  7. Brian says:

    Pete is spot on. I’ve said before a million times that these divisions will continue so long as the idiotic property tax system is used to fund education. Anything else is merely nibbling around the edges and won’t fundamentally address anything.

  8. Myown says:

    Pete is right, we need to fund education in a different manner. In several states the courts have determined property taxes are an unconstitutional method for paying for education and are requiring alternatives. It has to be done more on the state and federal level.

    Sure, schools have to tighten their belts. But start with administration not teachers. I know of one district where teachers are losing pay and benefits while there is apparently money to move the administrators into a better, bigger building.

    The answer to paying for health care is not to argue over whose pockets should pay for it. The solution is to confront the costs and realize we are being fleeced by the insurance companies and medical industry and make radical changes. However, those two industries are heavy political contributors so nothing significant will happen until there is overwhelming public demand for it.

    All the politicians are encouraging shared sacrifice. That’s fine. Except all we hear about are sacrifices being made by the middle class. What exactly are the sacrifices being asked of the wealthy? What do we hear from the politicians about that? Nothing! Oh, except for extending tax cuts for the wealthy. Unreal.

    The middle class did not cause the Great Recession but politicians want to balance budgets on their backs. Greed from the games on Wall Street caused the Great Recession, yet those players got bailed out (by the taxpayers), many got bonuses (more than most of us make over several years of actual work), and corporate profits are at an all time high. Yet, it is the middle class that must make the sacrifices. What is wrong with this picture!

    The immediate problem is the drop in tax revenue. Politicians have been cutting tax rates for the wealthy the past 30 years to where they are half of what they used to be. This gimmick was sold to us with the promise that it would spur economic growth and revenues would actually increase. Not! It was a Total Lie. What it did produce is the greatest disparity in wealth and income since the Great Depression and huge budget deficits. It is time to go back to the tax rates of the 50s and 60s and rebuild the middle class for the future of our country.

  9. Ralph says:

    In many districts across the state last year teachers froze their salaries. Did it help? Not really. Those same districts are in trouble again. What is going to happen when these teachers face higher energy costs, higher food costs, a higher cost of living? They’ll look elsewhere. Why would a young person want to go into the teaching profession?

    The problem isn’t teacher salaries or benefits. It’s unfunded mandates, it’s waste, it’s tax breaks for the wealthy, it’s 2 wars, it’s wall street’s madness. By the way the state loved the pension system when they used to raid it.

  10. Gary says:

    Before Cuomo cut funds for education he first should have removed many of the mandates that are forced on local school districts. Then he should have formed a task force to look at alternatives for funding education. I’m at least glad to hear that a 2% tax cap might be put in place.

  11. marcus aurelius says:

    Many teachers in my school district would be willing to contribute to their health insurance, but the union leadership (mostly male and very veteran) will not consider it. Most would like to make concessions to save jobs but are not being heeded by those at the top.

  12. sequester30 says:

    According to an interesting web site: http://www.seethroughny.net/Payrolls/EmployeeSearch/tabid/69/Default.aspx
    Almost 40 teachers in the Saranac Lake School District make over $70,000 a year in pay and benefits–one teacher/administrator makes over $98,000. That’s about 40% of all teachers inh the District. This in a county with a median household income of a little over $40,000 per year. Teachers pay less than 5% of their health care costs, with the District paying over $15,000 for a family plan. And over the last 10 years, the tax levy for the District has gone up by 2/3rds.

    Yeah…It’s time for a discussion of teacher compensation.

  13. Mervel says:

    I think there are indeed broad issues in the nation that should be addressed. But the problems we face in NYS are right now. Not all states are in this mess. This is New York’s issue to solve. It is doubtful that any of those issues mentioned dealing with fairness and the national tax code and the wealthy will be solved in our lifetime. I mean if this President can’t solve them or even address them then let’s face it that sort of reform is a long long way off.

    I just am shocked when I hear for example our school district talking about laying off 27 people most of them teachers and one per grade. What is it about our system that encourages lay offs over shared sacrifice? Is that a union issue? Does the union leadership prefer to cut positions over having to reduce benefits a little for everyone?

    I don’t think we are talking about huge changes individually; it seems that small reductions in benefits for all district employees would be the first thing to look at rather than cutting teaching positions.

  14. Bret4207 says:

    You can tax the wealthy at 99% and still not touch the budget deficit. If you want to cut the deficit then you’re going to have to raise taxes on a lot more than just those making more than $250 or 300K. There simply aren’t enough people in that class to make up the diff.

    Beyond that, this discussion is about teachers salaries collected through taxes from local landowners. That has nothing to do with the Federal Income tax rates on the top 5% or taxpayers.

  15. Myown says:

    Bret says: “You can tax the wealthy at 99% and still not touch the budget deficit. If you want to cut the deficit then you’re going to have to raise taxes on a lot more than just those making more than $250 or 300K. There simply aren’t enough people in that class to make up the diff.”

    Even if that were true (I’d like to see the math) it is no excuse not to move tax rates back to where they used to be and see what happens.

    “Beyond that, this discussion is about teachers salaries collected through taxes from local landowners. That has nothing to do with the Federal Income tax rates on the top 5% or taxpayers.”

    That’s exactly the point several of us are trying to make here. School funding should not come from local property owners. Courts in several states say it is unconsitutional and the courts in NYS have said it is a system that results in too great a disparity between districts and has ordered the Legislature and Governor to correct it. The current state aid formulas reflect some of that but we need to move to full state and federal funding of education and away from local property taxes.

  16. Brian says:

    Re-instituting the stock transfer tax (which I believe works out to a whopping $10 tax on a $20,000 stock sale) would by itself put NYS into surplus. Instead, we choose to (not have to) lay off teachers and nurses and our property taxes still go up anyway.

  17. scratchy says:

    Predictable. We have the highest tax burden in the nation and people think the answer is higher state taxes. The real solution is that teachers need to start contributing to their health plans and pensions.

    http://www.cbcny.org/cbc-blogs/blogs/school-districts-should-achieve-substantial-savings-following-state-practices-employ

    The state should also look at unnecessary mandates like outomoded tenure system and seniority (as opposed to merit) based layoffs.
    If schools compensated teachers on the basis of merit as opposed to longevity and were able to terminate those who fail to perform, then we would have better public schools at a lower overall cost.

  18. Myown says:

    I love this argument, “If schools compensated teachers on the basis of merit as opposed to longevity and were able to terminate those who fail to perform, then we would have better public schools at a lower overall cost.”

    Exactly how many bad teachers do you think we have? 1%, 5%, 10%? It is ridiculous to think firing a few “underperforming” teachers will lower costs or improve a school’s rating. It just doesn’t add up. Besides, no one has come up with a fair way to grade teacher performance that removes variables such as student motivation, home environment, etc. And the turnover rate of new teachers has increased dramatically due to the difficulty of the job, so most of those that remain are very dedicated. Maybe we should start grading parent performance of academic support and fire those that are underperforming.

  19. mervel says:

    Well there is research that shows the truly devastating impact of one bad teacher on a child’s academic performance. We can evaluate teachers and we should. But the real action in a school happens in the classroom we should actually be increasing classroom teacher salaries not getting rid of classroom teachers. I think poor teachers and the budget issue are separate. The mandates play into all of the additional staff that are required who are not classroom teachers. Take a look at a school budget and consider all of the salary components of people, who are not classroom teachers, it is quite a number of people. But why cut anyone if they could simply require a small increase in contributions to the health or pension package?

    We do need to figure out why NYS education costs more than other states and why NYS has this problem and many other states do not?

  20. Bret4207 says:

    NYS had a program called “Excellence in Teaching” pay. IOW, the top reforming teachers got a little bonus. As I understand it the union raised such a ruckus that EVERYONE got IET pay. That’s the kind of damage a too powerful union and weak legislators can do.

    Okay, so where should the money for our schools come from? I’m more than willing to see my school taxes be based of something other than my home and property. But what will replace that system? Do you want to take it from the general fund in each Town, County or Statewide? What are your proposals for funding the system?

    Lets say we re-institute the stock transfer fee and raise taxes in NYS on the top wage earners. Lets say, just for kicks, that it really does make up the deficit issue, which I doubt it would. Does anyone here really think that our Legislators and residents will learn from this period and start usig a conservative approach to State spending and taxation, to looking to the future instead of the next election cycle? I would be far more inclined to believe that the very second the deficit is addressed the calls for more spending and new programs/entitlements will be loud and clear. Then what do we do? Raise the taxes even more?

    Until we take a serious look at State and County spending, at our school spending and our tax system we’re just going to repeat the same cycle over and over. Until NY accepts the fact that gov’t does not produce anything, that the money has to come from your neighbors to fund your pet project leaving them with less funds to support themselves and the local economy, we’re going to have the same problem. Limited gov’t, a robust private sector and minimum taxation are the long term solutions to our problems.

  21. phahn50 says:

    The real (and only solution) is to get control of health care costs. Making the teachers pay part of their health insurance doesnt really do anything except lower the teachers salary and increase their taxes. It moves health care from pre-tax to taxable. The only savings to the district would be that 25% of healthcare cost increases(during the contract period) would be passed on to the teachers.

  22. Myown says:

    Bret,
    I suggest the Fed gov should provide a base amount and let the states fund the rest to the level they want. That would spread the costs and benefits of education more evenly. And I agree, there need to be limits imposed so we live within our means. One of the advantages of moving from local to state funding is the state would have to pay for any of its new mandates and might take a harder look at the cost-benefits.

  23. Joe says:

    An Albany (NY) City teacher, at Step One, who was paid a base salary of $42,132 as of September 2005 would have progressed to Step 6 and be paid $60,708 at September 2010, a 44.09% increase. A Step Two teacher paid $43,607 at Sept 2005 would have progressed to Step Seven and would be paid $62,527 at Sept 2010, a 43.39% increase. A Step Twenty-five teacher paid $77,773 at Sept 2005 would have progressed to Step 30 and would be paid $98,602 at Sept 2010, a 26.78% increase. The percent increases for Step One through Step Twenty-five averaged 33.93%. Consumer Price Index Inflation during the same period was 9.88%. These increases do not include increases for taking on additional duties such as teacher leadership, counseling band and/or sports etc, etc. The steps represent year one in service, year two, year three, etc, etc.
    Put more simply, the $100 at Step One in 9/2005 equals $144 and at 9/2010; CPI increases = $110.
    The raw data is drawn and processed from the SeeThroughNY site. The increases for other school districts I have checked vary but are similar in magnitude.

  24. WR says:

    WR says:

    I have 3 sons. One is a teacher with over 12 years experience and makes about $50K per year. One of his brothers has a job in which he works 180 days/year, full health/dental/eye benefits, and dedicated pension benefits in a 401K. He has a 4 year degree while his teaching brother has a masters. 5 years out of college he makes nearly 3 times the salary of his teaching brother. My 3rd son is self-employed and earns a salary similar to his non-teaching brother.
    Let’s not put the burden on the teachers without being equally willing to raise income taxes so that all pay according to their ability. My teaching son could make much more in the private sector. I wish he had taken that route in light of the current pressure being placed on teachers.

  25. Myown says:

    Besides the data coming from a conservative think tank what is the point? I have some data also. Was this information on that website too?

    In 1980 the average CEO was paid 42 times what an average worker earned. By 2009 the average CEO received 263 times what an average worker earned. In 2009 each CEO from the largest 292 companies received an average of $9.25 million in total compensation. And their retirement benefits increased 23%. So what exactly is a fair salary for a good teacher?

  26. Mervel says:

    Those salaries are not too high in my opinion. I don’t think that is the issue I think the benefits are out of whack and need to be looked at. The rates of increase are nuts of course. But I don’t have a problem paying a good teacher 98,000, its worth it if they are good. I would rather pay a teacher 98K than some random administrator 200k. There is nothing wrong with seethroughny providing data on salaries of government workers even if they are conservative.

    There is an intrinsic difference between a CEO of a private company and a NYS government worker. A NYS government worker lives of our taxes that we are forced to pay, a CEO only gets my money if I choose to buy something from that company. The government worker is employed by the taxpayer which is why we have a vested interest in what is going on.

    But anyway I don’t think classroom teacher salaries are the problem we need to look at the total cost per child in NYS in each district and really see what is driving those costs to be so high.

  27. john says:

    Keep in mind that teachers all belong to the same pension system. A teacher working in the lower Hudson VAlley may make far more than a teacher with the same number of years, who is teaching in Northern New York. The teacher in northern New York is teaching the same regents requirements, probably has 6 separate preparations instead of two or three. The teacher in Northern New York is required to hold all of the same certifications and continuing study requirements. If both teachers retire at thirty-five years of service, their respective retirements will be based on 70% of the average of their highest three consecutive year’s earnings. The downstate teacher may be getting 70% of 100,000 dollars, whereas, the teacher from the North COuntry will be getting 70% of 70,000 dollars. That amount is fixed for the rest of their lives. We had a superintendent here several years ago who left a local school making 96,000 dollars, He took a job in Westchester County at 165,000 dollars. He worked there for 3 years and retired. His retirement income was 70% of 165,000 dollars, not 96,000 dollars. That means about 30,000 dollars per year difference in annual pension income. Most teacher’s love their jobs, but it is a job and it shouldn’t cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars just because of where they do that job. The funding for education in this state is very un-level from region to region.

  28. oa says:

    “a CEO only gets my money if I choose to buy something from that company.”
    Unless the CEO was part of the Wall Street bailout. Then he gets your money. Lots of it.

  29. Brian says:

    Bret: I understand your point and might be sympathetic if I had any confidence that it’s the waste they’re really cutting. Maybe if we didn’t waste so much money on economic development agencies, IDAs and similar slush funds, we might be able to lower taxes for ALL businesses instead just whomever can negotiate the best deal with these rackets. I think there is some waste in education, particularly in administration. But if non-waste is going to be cut in education, I’d like to see real waste in other areas attacked first.

  30. Myown says:

    Mervel, I agree with you except for, “a CEO only gets my money if I choose to buy something from that company.” It’s not that simple. Most of those companies get huge tax breaks from the government – most aren’t really necessary. Whatever of their share of taxes they don’t pay the rest of us will to have to make up the difference. So in essence we wind up subsidizing these companies and their outlandish CEO pay. And as we well know CEO pay isn’t even linked to a company’s performance. They can run a company into the ground and still walk away with a golden parachute.

    I have no problem with the disclosure of teachers’ salaries as long as it is accurate. However, I think there should be comparative data that shows private sector salaries for people with the same amount of education and years of experience. And let’s see, for instance, what individual salaries are at the government backed and guaranteed gambling operation at Goldman Sachs where the average pay is $160,000.

  31. Mervel says:

    Indeed good points. Maybe if a company gets money from the Federal government in the form of large tax breaks or direct taxpayer payouts like Goldman got; the salaries should become part of the public discussion. In reality when that happened they are no different than a government employee they are a government subcontractor at that point and we have a vested interest in their salaries and how they are using our tax dollars. If you take large amounts of government money you are no longer a private company in any real sense; you are an arm of the government.

  32. Mervel says:

    I think hard times just produce this sort of turning on one another. Has anyone ever worked at a company that is laying off people? I have and when times were good everyone gets along, when the hard times hit; the fangs come out and everyone is protecting their turf, blaming, inciting, envy, intrigue they all come out in people.

  33. Mervel says:

    “Prosperity hides all manner of sin, but no longer,”

    This was Gov. Patterson’s best line in his state of the state address in 2010.

  34. Bret4207 says:

    Myown- The Federal Gov’t should provide a base amount? First off, that’s not a Constitutional requirement of the Federal Gov’t. It’s not their job IOW. Secondly, the Federal Gov’t is already in the red. What could possibly make you think turning this responsibility and power over to the Feds would be either appropriate or effective?

    I may differ form some here but it is my opinion that the more local control is maintained, the closer the taxes stay to home, the better.

  35. Joe says:

    to:
    Myown :
    February 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm
    “Besides the data coming from a conservative think tank what is the point? I have some data also. Was this information on that website too?”
    The data on the “conservative think tank” are “pure copies” (PDF) from the governmental unit, e.g. state, county local, etc, and are verifiable at the governmental unit. The link is :
    http://www.seethroughny.net/
    “….what is the point?”
    to inform those who are interested in the financial status of that particular section of government workers.
    But then you knew that didn’t you?

  36. Myown says:

    Bret, you said,” I’m more than willing to see my school taxes be based of something other than my home and property. But what will replace that system?”
    So I just made a suggestion. The Federal government funds a lot of things that aren’t Constitutionally required. The funding could come from a lot of sources including raising the top tax rates back to previous levels. :-) And property taxes should go down. I am sure there are other possible options that would get us away from using property taxes – as it is only a matter of time before a court case will make it necessary anyways.

    The problem with local control is everyone wants it (but doesn’t want to pay for it). That’s why there is so much resistance to consolidating school districts. It’s time consolidate districts to reduce administrative costs, but not necessarily close schools or reduce teachers.

  37. Myown says:

    Joe, well that was very thoughtful of the Manhattan Institute to do that. Now if they would provide similar data for private sector salaries for people with the same amount of education and years of experience it would be even more helpful. And again, what exactly is a fair salary for a good teacher?

  38. scratchy says:

    MYown,
    The salary of private sector employees is not FOILable.

    And how many private sector workers work 180 days a year and get to retire at age 55?

    No way to assess the performance of teachers? Of course there is. Student test results. Schools can implement cameras in all classrooms so that they can do classroom evaluations. Sorry, I don’t buy the argument that teachers performance can’t be evaluated. People in the private sector have event beyonds their control effect their performance yet they are evaluated and compensated based on performance.

  39. Myown says:

    Scratchy, I would think the Manhattan Institute could get their corporate pals to provide comparative data on their employees. Besides, it seems like the employee info for all the Wall Street firms and banks that were bailed out by the public should be available to the public.

    Student test results are not sufficient data to evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher.

    Teaching children is not the same as making or selling widgets.

  40. phahn50 says:

    70K for salary plus benefits isnt a whole lot for someone with a college degree and professional certification.

  41. Pete Klein says:

    Beware of what you wish for.
    Watching the Wisconsin variety of Libya unrest, I thought of the unintended consequences of going after public employees and specifically teachers.
    How many students in high school and college who were thinking about becoming teachers and are now having second thoughts as a result of attacks upon teachers and their unions?
    Might we face a teacher shortage in the not too distant future? Will we then fall further and further behind in education when compared to China? What will that do to our ability to compete on the world economic stage?
    There is such a thing as being penny wise and pound foolish.

  42. scratchy says:

    phahn50,
    Well, I disagree on 70k a year.

  43. scratchy says:

    myown,

    How should teachers be evaluated. Or do you think they sholdn’t be evaluated?

  44. Myown says:

    Of course teachers should be evaluated. They always have been. But the recent charge to use solely test scores is over-simplification. Evaluation is a complex issue that people in the field are discussing and there have been some agreeable formulas worked out. But I don’t see evaluations as the panacea to problems with education, whether finances or student performance.

    I think too often teachers are being made the scapegoat for school finances and poor student performance. I just don’t think there are that many overpaid or bad teachers out there. For the most part their salaries are not out of line given the requirement of a Master’s Degree and certifications. And student performance is influenced by things like the student’s innate ability and motivation, home environment, etc.

    Again I think teachers are easier to blame than it is to admit that some parents are less involved with their child’s education than they should be, or that there are many distractions in society that compete for a teenager’s attention, or even that education itself is not as highly regarded in our culture as in others. You want better teachers – pay them better and give them more respect instead of trashing them all the time. Pete is right, who would want to become a teacher these days and be blamed for all of society’s ills.

    We need to re-examine our view of education and make it an important social priority, for everyone, not just students and teachers. Cultures that have the best educational performance are also the ones that revere education, respect teachers, and have involved parents. All these components are necessary for top notch education.

  45. Mervel says:

    What percentage of our education dollars actually go for classroom teacher salaries? How much goes for all of the other so called “instructional” positions who are not actual classroom teachers who often make more than real teachers. Then you can start looking at the administration load and then the physical plant, then the whole busing expense etc.

    There is much to cut before we even get to the classroom teacher.

  46. Bret4207 says:

    “Attacks” on teachers and their unions Pete? I see it as less and attack on teachers and unions than a defense of the Wisconsin taxpayer and the States future.

  47. Pete Klein says:

    Bret,
    If anyone needs to be attacked, it should be all elected officials.
    They should be required to take and pass a test before they can run for office. This test should include proficiency in economics and history. They should be required to have a Masters Degree at the minimum. They should be deprived of all health care and retirement plans. Raises should be limited to an annual cost of living raise.
    These clowns get to blame everyone for their own incompetence.

  48. RationalandLogical says:

    I have a suggestion….lets trim back the union. FACT: NYSUT has 23 executives with a salary in excess of $190,000 per year. FACT: In 2010 NYSUT had total receipts of $218,139,434. FACT: NYSUT made $84,142,766 in political campaign contributions in 2010. FACT: NYSUT is THE largest union in NYS with 573,827 members in 2010 more than twice the size of the next largest union.

    What is the source of $218,139,434 in total receipts? Most if not all is member dues. What is the funding source for revenue that pays the salaries of teachers that are the source of member dues? School district property taxes. So nice that a union, funded with tax payer dollars lobbies to have taxpayers pay more and more and more…imagine $218,139,434 in total annual receipts to run a teachers union. a union with 23 executives making in excess of $190,000 per year. High-priced talent to lobby for more money….this is a great system!

  49. Myown says:

    Bret, Wisconsin is about union busting. Wisconsin was not even on a list of states with major financial problems. Gov Walker approved tax cuts of $140 million just before he decided the state had to save $137 million by cutting public employees’ pay and benefits. And the employees have agreed to all the proposed pay cuts and reduced benefits.

    Obviously it is not about the money. Walker wants to unilaterally strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights. That is what is at stake, not the budget. He wants to be the hero of conservatives by destroying public unions. Walker is funded by the same cast of characters that destroyed unions in the private sector and now want to do the same to the public sector. They use the same formula every time. Fear and Division. Come up with something to scare people and then drive wedges between the middle class so they will fight against each other. It’s all so pathetically predictable and repeatable. And if Walker succeeds the results are as predictable; even greater disparity in wealth and income as the middle class shrinks into oblivion.

    This story from the “Twilight Zone” is interesting in this context. “The Monsters Are Due On Main Street.” At the end, the last two characters are just as readily the conservative corporate elites enjoying how easily we are manipulated by fear to set neighbor against neighbor, even against our own interests.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJyaBxYjWcQ&feature=related

  50. RationalandLogical says:

    Myown I have heard this talking point about the tax cut prior to the proposed cut and it is just that a blathering talking point that makes for a good sound bite but is blind to the workings of a free market, capital based economy. The main focus should not be continued funding of the government. The main point should be retention of dollars earned by individual people regardless of their income. Whether earned from investments, wages or inheritance it is THEIR money not the government’s to give back with a tax cut. The FACT is a free market economy requires expenditures and investments to be made from ALL income levels. That is how an economy grows and wealth for all people is ultimately made. And bear in mind one thing the constitution guarantees the right to life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. Happiness itself is not the right endowed but what is endowed is the right to pursue happiness. Meaning one is entitled to the right to EARN happiness.

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