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The Teachers’ Unions Are On The Ropes

bad teacherThey were marching in Madison. And they’ll be on a street in a state capitol near you in the coming weeks and months. The teachers’ unions are on the ropes, and they know it. They know that public opinion has shifted, and the public mood has shifted with it. And they know why.

The people now know all about the racket the teachers’ unions and other public employee unions have been running for the past twenty years. The public now knows that it is a bad idea to have union representatives and the politicians they elect sitting at a table negotiating pensions and health care benefits. Because there is no one at that table representing them. There is no one representing the taxpayer.

All of this started in New Jersey, of all places. Millions of residents started watching Governor Chris Christie challenge the teachers’ union on You Tube last year. Christie was armed with facts, figures and arguments the mainstream media never saw fit to report, and the union bosses he challenged had no real answers.

It was real news to the residents of New Jersey, how the teachers’ unions had rigged the system. Because for decades, the story went untold by the Newark Star Ledger and Bergen Record, the state’s two largest dailies. The editors either didn’t think the corrupt collective bargaining process was an issue worthy of a series, or didn’t have a problem with the process. I suspect that many of the editors liked being for what their ideological opponents were against. Because both of those papers are liberal by any objective standard, and those that challenged the teachers’ unions tended to be Republicans.

In the past, politicians who dared to challenge union power were portrayed by the unions and their supporters as the bad guys. As being against the children. As being against education. And the future.

Those days are over.

It ain’t easy being a Middle East dictator these days. Or a union boss. Or a newspaper editor or TV news producer.

But there is much more at stake than collective bargaining in this fight. The teachers unions themselves are on the ropes, as more Americans start to ask hard questions about how we spend our money educating our children. As we start to ask hard questions about tenure, about the hiring and firing of teachers, about merit pay, about charter schools, and about online learning.

The teachers’ unions are scurrying to protect their power, and are engaging in defensive maneuvers to protect their power. Because that has been the reality of public education for the last 30 years – the unions have been calling the shots on public education, while “We the People” paid the bills.

A New York Times headline on Thursday is Exhibit A of just how scared the unions are: “Leader of Teachers’ Union Urges Dismissal Overhaul.” Here is how that story began:

Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed. It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days.

You heard it right. The union boss admitted that tenure is a bad idea. That giving a person a lifetime job after only 3 years of work is a really, really bad idea. But this admission is 30 years too late. The unions want to continue to control the education system, but they will lose this battle. Because it doesn’t make any sense to have the teachers’ unions in control of hiring and firing teachers. Any more than it makes sense to have inmates running parole hearings.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last year, Joel Klein, New York City’s Superintendent of Schools for the past 8 years, wrote an editorial that eviscerated the unions. After chronicling some of the innovations he spearheaded, he wrote this about entrenched union power.

“Changing the system wasn’t easy. The people with the loudest and best-funded voices are committed to maintaining a status quo that protects their needs even if it doesn’t work for children. They want to keep their jobs by preserving a guaranteed customer base (a fixed number of students), regardless of performance. We have to rid the system of this self-serving approach.”

The teachers’ unions are on the ropes. Thanks to a nearly three decade rule over how we run our schools, and how we choose and reward our nation’s teachers, their power is being successfully challenged by politicians who have the truth on their side. And the interests of the tax payers. And the children

Sadly for the union bosses, there is not much they can do about it.

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Comments (60)

  1. JRB says:

    I am a retired teacher in Texas, a right to work state, where teacher’s salaries are not negotiated by unions. After 26 years of service, my final salary for a 187 day contract was $56,000. I consider that a very nice salary for a second income. In my area, it would be difficult for a family of 4 or more to live on that amount without a second paycheck. Many districts in rural areas pay much less. Salaries pretty much reflect the cost of living in the area where one works. And in Texas, teachers’ jobs are just as affected by the economy as any other job. When the economy sinks, we get the pink slips too.

    Anyone who has never taught should probably not be making comments about the schedule of a teacher. Most teachers work seven days a week to keep up with the administrative duties, instructional technology, web page maintainance, data collection/analysis and everything else required of them to say nothing of their real job of lesson planning, preparation, grading and serving the students. If you add up the hours, I believe teachers’ work just as many (or more) than any other profession. Just because some of it is done at home doesn’t mean it is less pressure.

    I believe Texas is better off being a non-union state. That’s why we have so many excellent, dedicated, self-sacrificing teachers. They have to stay current, be totally up-to-speed, and produce good results or the process for their growth or removal begins.

  2. W Guertin says:

    I am a conservative from Massachusetts and a Christian. The rants I hear from the misguided bloggers on your site regarding unions is stunning. Let’s not forget corporate greed and in many cases the revolving door of personnel turnovers and why unions offer security and representation. I belong to the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts and the International Association of Firefighters. The safety rules and regulations are what we fought for and bargained for. State Laws or Corporations just didn’t decide it would be nice to give them to us. I was interested in your services as opposed to AARP until I read about your lumping of all unionism into the same pot. And, by the way we contribute to our plan and don’t get full social security, no matter how many years we worked in the private sector. The anti-union ranters are quite ridiculous in their conclusions. If you don’t want to join a union, don’t. Go make it big incorporate America.

  3. Vern says:

    SOME THOUGHTS ON TEACHER SALARY NEGOTIATIONS

    With teacher salary negotiations annually adding to the financial hardships facing the Elmhurst
    schools, here are some thoughts for the Board of Education:
    (1) Concern for Dollars Raised for the Education Fund: There is a great concern that when the Education Fund of a school district is increased, the teachers’ union will immediately compute the amount of increased revenue generated and then ask for twice this amount in the negotiation process.
    Although union negotiators will continually insist that their concerns are for classroom needs, when it comes to a final settlement, it is always the amount of salary increase that settles negotiations.
    (2) The Myth of the Underpaid Teacher: The average citizen has no idea how much teachers make because the teachers’ union has done an excellent job of perpetuating the myth that teachers are underpaid. While this may be true in many other states and even in smaller cities and rural areas in Illinois, it is certainly not true in Suburban Cook or DuPage counties. A complete listing of salaries, along with the stipends for extra duties–which can be substantial–should be made available to the public.
    (3) What Do Teachers Get That Most Other Working People Do Not (and do teachers have any clue that they have these unusual benefits?):
    (A) Guaranteed Lifetime Employment: Can anyone even put a dollar value on this incredi- ble benefit? Let’s ask the people who have lost their jobs through downsizing, technology changes, or transfer of their jobs to foreign countries how much “lifetime” employment would be worth to them, especially as they reach ages 50 and above.
    Do teachers realize the value of guaranteed “lifetime” employment?
    (B) A Pension System that is Probably in the Top 5% of All Occupations: With many teachers reaching retirement in the $80,000 – $100,000 (or more) range, and with the retirement system providing 80% of the last several year average for long-term teachers, many teachers are now retiring at $64,000 – $80,000/year or more. In order to generate this type of income yearly, at an annual interest rate of 5%, an individuals would have to have accumulated a sum ranging from $1,300,000 – $1,600,000! (And the state increases the amount by 3% each year of retirement.)
    Do teachers realize the tremendous pension system they have and how much they would have had to save during their lifetime to get a pension like this? Do they consider this fac- tor when comparing themselves to other occupations?
    (C) An Outstanding, Primarily District-Funded Medical Program: With many of the U.S. population without health insurance and with many companies reducing benefits or demanding a greater share of the costs from employees, teachers have an outstanding health insurance benefit that is paid largely by the school district. Any attempt to get teachers to contribute a portion to offset this cost is met with a “no-way” attitude.
    Do teachers understand that their health benefit is better than most employed people have? Do they have any idea of the cost to the District? Do they realize that this tremendous benefit also carries to a great extent into their retirement?

    Some Thoughts on Teacher Salary Negotiations Page 2

    (D) A Salary Schedule That Has Yearly Step Increases for All Teachers Except Those at the Top of Their Ranges: Do teachers know that most companies do not provide automatic increases each year. It is incredible that teacher union negotiators do not view the “step increase” as a salary increase. Are there any other occupations where a per son gets more money this year than last year but claims it is not a raise? Teachers tradi tionally say, “We’re entitled to our step by simply being here–now how much is our raise going to be?”
    Do teachers realize that most people who receive more salary this year than last year would consider that they had been given a raise?
    (E) A Work Year that is Filled with Holidays and Extensive Time Off: With the teaching year approximately 175 days, and some of those days made up of “institute” or other non- teaching days, teachers have a work year that is the envy of all other working people who generally have a 260 day work year, with perhaps 6 holidays and 10 – 20 vacation days for a total of about 234 – 244 days or approximately 70 more working days or 14 5-day weeks more than teachers. Yes, many teachers have papers to grade and classes to prepare for but most other positions having the same salary ranges do not have 9 – 5 jobs, and many of these positions require extensive travel, “homework” and time away from home.
    Do teachers appreciate the extraordinary work year they have?
    (4) How Much Time is Really Required to “keep up to date” in their teaching fields? Is the amount of time to stay current in one’s teaching field any more than the type required to stay current in any other professional field? In fact, in a large number of subject areas, is any great expenditure of time needed? Yes, teaching is a stressful occupation, but so are most other occupations–especially if one is faced with loss of health insurance, pension rights or the job itself.
    (5) Will the District Lose Good Teachers if it is Not Among the Highest Paying in the Area? This “scare tactic” is typically part of a union strategy as it continually pits one district against another. However, the desirability of the area–and the salary schedules as they stand–are so far above many others in the country, that applicants for all but the most difficult to fill subject areas (of which there are very few), will make teaching openings in this area very attractive to outstanding teachers from other areas. Local, experienced individuals high on the salary schedule will find resistance to hire from other districts who generally do not want to add teachers high on the salary schedules.
    (5) A Negotiating Strategy that Always Works for Teacher Union Negotiators: At the beginning of negotiations, the union always presses the agreement that there will be no statements by either party until negotiations are concluded–and then the union constantly leaks information that is to their benefit while the school board honors its commitment for silence.
    To eliminate the above, which works only to the benefit of the union, I would urge the board not to agree to limiting statements but to let both sides be free to keep the public informed at all stages of the negotiations. Specifically, what is the union demanding and what is the school board’s response. “Negotiations” is technically a misnomer because to the union it means–of all the thing we are asking for, which ones will you give us? There is never any “give-backs” or “trades;” ie. We will give you “A” if you agree to pay an increased portion of the district’s increasing costs of health insurance.
    Conclusion: It is time for teachers to stop feeling sorry for themselves and recognize that they are among the privileged few in our society.

    • Deborah Moorin says:

      I am a mature american who, due to divorce and small children to raise, went back to school and earned an elementary teaching degree in Virginia where joining unions is not encouraged.

      Now I’ve been working 10 to 14 hours a day and more, often 6 days a week, for 8 years in Bedford County Virginia. I must say the many days off that you speak about are not what they appear for me as I end up working more than half of every “vacation” cleaning up, staying organized, planning and preparing to teach with integrity and excellence.

      Now, after all of this hard work I make only 35,000 a year which I am sure you know is well below what americans need to support a family of three in America no matter where you live and does not reflect what this kind of hard work for 8 years should garner.

      As a conservative american, I would prefer that teachers earn raises each year rather than expect automatic increases, which by the way, due the economy teachers in my county did not receive for the last 4 years. However, that means educators have to trust our governments to pay us not only enough to live but also fair salaries that reflect our level of dedication and service to our students, their families and the communities in which we work. Many of us have to work and live in places where this is not the case so maybe a more objective approach would better serve your cause.

      Clearly, there are no simple, one size fits all answers and as usual outrage on either side of the issue is unproductive at best.

  4. Vern says:

    I’ve voted for every educational tax increase for the past 40 years in my community–always at a sacrifice to my standard of living. Recently, the local teachers’ union was asked to forego the 3rd year small increase to help solve the high school’s budget problem. The response: “We can’t make this sacrifice.” Guess who won’t be voting for any more education tax increases.

  5. Indyvet says:

    As a Shop Steward and Area Strike Director years ago, I saw the inside operation of Unions. They served our middle class well for many years. Then the tried to destroy this country. They sent our jobs across the border. The corrupted the Education system. There are three generations of teachers in my family and each one has integrity and excellence in their careers…inspite of the union…not because of them!

  6. EQ4ALL says:

    I was seriously considering joining ya’ll until I read this Union bashing article.
    Since you are just another right wing group. I’ll just pass….
    You Union bashers need to remember where your 40 hour work week, healthcare benefits, retirement plans and Worker Safety programs come from. Every system has its flaws but the Unions are not your enemy. The Politicians have tried to make it so.

  7. cruzinbill says:

    I have seen what these unions represent commies, & far left loons.If thats what teachers want to represent them i feel sorry for them.I was a union member for 48 years and i never seen the unions this bad.I would never want any of these commie unions i see today represent me.Teachers of Wisconsin will do better without them.

  8. Appraiser Jim nPA says:

    Thank you Governors for the hard work your doing. It’s about time things are changing before these union guys break the bank.
    I was part of a union for 10 yrs in the private sector. I saw and knew first hand the corruption. I stepped out of the union into the company side after see so many unfair practices all for the dollar, all for the power over someone else.
    This year at Christmas someone mentioned the Govenors name at the table. My sister in-law and brother in-law, both teachers in NJ almost had their veins pump out of their necks & foreheads with pure hatred & disdane.
    Keep up the good work Gov. The liberals have to stop running the show here.
    Thank You

  9. JB, Sr says:

    If you own it, nobody has anything to say about it – –
    If it’s provided for you by others – you have nothing to say about it ! ! ! !

  10. johnnybgood says:

    Don’t you see they’re pitting us against each other while robbing us blind? This is class warfare. They lead you into thinking the problems are with unions-of course there are problems with unions, but the real problem is with the governors, the banksters, the ceo’s who shutter 55,000 factories in the U.S. and move overseas, hire foreign workers at 20-30c an hour, create minimum 10-15% unemployment here in the U.S., get paid outrageous salaries and bonuses, get $700 billion in interest free loans, give nothing back to our country, and then blame the ones they have laid off for these problems!

    Before you start calling me names, just think about what I just wrote. Just for a minute. Let it sink in. Now I ask you, can you concoct a better scheme than this?

  11. Adam F. Kohler says:

    Thank you Governor Christie for leading the charge and change! Thank you Governor Walker for continuing the charge in WI.

  12. Marian says:

    I agree that there are bad teachers in public school systems, but they are not in the majority and there are ways to relieve mediocre teachers from their tenured positions. The problem with that is that administrators do NOT want to bother with the required observations and documentation required to dismiss these teachers. On the other hand, the majority of the teachers who are employed to TEACH your children is that they are not only required to LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND, but that we HAVE to deal with the poor, welfare aided children, children with defects, violent students, children who are the unfortunate product of broken marriages, single parent, or no parent homes, foster children who have been forgotten, children of special needs, children who have no food, very little clothing, no jackets, oftentimes, no shelter, no place to go home to that they stay on campus until dark and are there at 6 AM before the teachers arrive, waiting for the “free” breakfast. I could go on, but I think I have made the point. WE, and I am a teacher, have to not only TEACH these children the academics, but have to see that they are in a position to learn, with some food in the stomach, materials to work with, we spend our OWN money to buy them these necessities, buy the materials we need to teach them (pencils, paper, rulers, glue, scissors, etc.) because we don’t have any provided by the schools. We also have to teach them how to behave at school. It is common to hear expletives coming from even the very young any minute of the day because that is what they hear at home, and in the street. They often do no appreciate by word, by giving a thank you, or a please, without being taught even at the high school level where I teach geometry. I am on my feet all day (I teach geometry) and I have to take my grading home, my preparations for the next day which are required by the administrators to cover their butts, and I stay until 7 or 8 at night during the week, and go in on Saturdays or Sundays to input grades. There are many like me who have to teach the “unteachable”…the ones that will NOT be accepted to charter and private schools because it is too much to bear, who cannot be home schooled because there is no home, or no one educated enough to home school the child. You all have a lot of nerve categorizing teachers that you have never met, never sat in class with, never followed around to see what has to be dealt with daily. Our new teachers cannot cope with all of this responsibility and for you to claim that our teachers do not deserve their pensions and union representation is totally UN-American. Children are your future, not just your polite children at home, but ALL of the children. We need more support from the home to teach them VALUES so that the students will VALUE the education being presented and be MOTIVATED to always do their best. I thought this would be a good organization to join. I am proud to be an American, but when I read all these comments I was ashamed. You must all be so narrowminded and selfish to think that our nation’s children have been doomed with lazy teachers. If you had a bad experience with a teacher, then you should have accompanied your child to his/her classes, documented notes about this good for nothing teacher. I know there are a few, but most are hard working and selfless. You all should be ashamed. I deserve the salary I get for presenting the material I must teach to students who are like the horse that you can take to the water, but not drink. The money is being wasted at the admistrative level, not the teachers. There are too many unnecessary adminstrative positions in the main office of any district, and the many secretaries they have for each one. This is where a lot of waste exists in school districts, but the teachers are a necessity. I am in California. I have classes of 40 students per class. In middle school I had students of 36 per class. I did not have any T.A.s and I do NOT sit at my desk at all when I have students. I am up teaching, on my feet, and I grade papers and get ready for the next day(s) after school, and my weekends. I even go home to make dinner and see my family for an hour or two, then return to my school (which is in a low socioeconomic area) and stay until sometimes 10 PM. Then I am back on the job the next day at 6:30 or 7 am. How many of you can do that? THINK about it AGAIN!

  13. Holycrap says:

    You all sound crazy. Like you’ve been drinking the Kool-aid too long….

  14. jimbo says:

    Looks like Superman has finally shown up in the guise of Gov.Chris Christie. Well done Gov.!

  15. Roger says:

    I would like to say thank you to all the Govenors like Walker that are doing at a state level what we needs to be done on a federal level. Cutting back at waste, balancing budgets, creating jobs. They are proving that it can be done and with countinued state successes the citizens of this country have the proof they need to force the Federal Government to do the same. November 2012 should prove to be very interesting indeed.

  16. Terri J says:

    I very strongly agree with kjerry– Education vouchers would introduce free enterprize to education and allow the consumers (parents) to choose where to spend their money. Schools that provide quality education in a safe environment would naturally attract more students. Parents would be able to vote with their vouchers and poor teachers/school systems would simply not be in demand. The biggest opponents of school vouchers are the teacher’s unions and that should be a dead giveaway!

    There are a multitude of social problems that contribute to disfunction in the classroom, from illegal immigration, poverty and the welfare mentality to lazy, uninspiring teachers who also have a welfare mentality (feeling like they deserve a paycheck without producing anything) but it seems to me that any time we raise the bar and eliminate rewards for laziness and mediocrity, quality will rise. Given the opportunity, I believe that most parents would choose to place their kids under excellent teachers who are worthy of the parents’ trust, and then support and work with those teachers.

    We opted to send our kids to a very small Christian school in spite of severe criticism from some family members and some very condescending attitudes from “professional” teachers. Later, we opted to homeschool and experienced more eye-rolling and remarks about our qualifications to oversee our kids education. Every one of my 7 kids has gone on to some higher education–military, community college or university, working to support themselves (and paying taxes) while doing so. Look around at the swelling homeschool movement and the increase in Charter schools–that should tell people something about how parents feel about their kids’ education!

    I also want to respond to Bob, who says that “almost all union members vote Democratic” and states that Republicans are “only for the rich and want to tear the middle class apart.” That’s precisely the rhetoric spewed by our union reps every election year as they take OUR union dues and line the campaign pockets of politicians we vote AGAINST! It may be true that most members vote their pocketbooks without regard to what the candidate stands for, but that doesn’t make it right–it’s the same “me first and to heck with everyone else” mentality that is destroying our education system, our industry, and even our economy. Very few, it seems, take pride in their work any more.

    I appreciate what Jeff said: ”
    The American dream is NOT having a gravy-train job that allows you to make a living regardless of your contribution. The American dream is to rise according to your skills and abilities…” I wish more Americans still believed that~

  17. Caroline P. says:

    This is all true, however, and with respect, I do not agree parents are to blame: sure there are parents out there that do not care, that’s always been the case, but a vast majority (at least where I come from) care temendously ….the question is,
    how do we get heard? What do we do to make this wrong right…..if
    for nothing else, the sake of our
    kids.

  18. Mary Anne Bernhard says:

    I might add that what is really wrong with our education system is that parents aren’t parenting. They expect teachers to raise their children and teach them right from wrong. Yes – we do have some exceptional familes/parents, but as a whole, it has been parents who aren’t doing their job at home. Education is the key to success and it takes FAMILIES and teachers together to raise a healthy, well-adjusted, academically strong student.

  19. Mary Anne Bernhard says:

    We don’t have Unions in Texas ! The teachers in our state contribute to their pensions and there is no free ride. We work diligently and fully support our students. Remember when you are criticizing groups and running off at the mouth ….you can’t use the word ALL ……Texas Teacher and proud of it !

  20. kjerry says:

    It’s my belief that although many of the criticisms above are quite valid, for the most part we’ve been dealing with symptoms of our educational problems. The cure is to have the government “fund” K-12 education,as it does now, but not necessarily be the “provider” of that education. The funding should go to the school of the parent’s choice and the schools could be public, private, religious, non-profit, etc. The parents decide where their child attends and to what school the funding for that child goes. The good schools (and teachers) will thrive and the really bad ones will disappear. The whole idea of public unions in our schools would also become a mute point. It goes without saying that the funding will be the same regardless of the type of school chosen. There would be standards which each school would be required to meet, etc.
    It’s my opinion that what is broken in our public education system is not one or two things which can be easily fixed in our current structure, it is the structure itself. Although they are not great at it and usually overdo, government is much better at regulating and setting standards then at actually producing a good or service at any acceptable level of quality we as taxpayers could afford. Each state could fund k-12 education at a level equal to the average of private/parochial school in their state and still save lots of money over current expenditures.

  21. Joe Avone says:

    Thirty years of Liberal ruling by Liberal politicians and corrupt union bosses brings us to uneducated children.Solution number one is Republican Leadership who can take the nasty comments from the Liberal media to fix the system.Solution number two is send your kids to Catholic school where uniforms and disipline is part of the curriculum.

  22. Bill Fox says:

    The salient point is that the tax payers have not been represented at the bargaining table. The unions elect Dems and Dems give the unions whatever they want – and the taxpayer gets screwed. Even the slowest among us is starting to get it!

  23. Jane Schoder says:

    I agree with Richard’s points.My questions for the general public are: if teachers have it so good, why don’t more people help educate tomorrow’s leaders while helping to initiate change? Where are these concerned taxpayers when it comes to Parent/Teacher conferences or talking to their children & showing an interest in their learning?

  24. Tim says:

    To George:
    I’m sorry to hear about your problems with U of P. I am not really familiar with the college scene, so I can’t respond (very well). My big point is how the Big Teachers’ Unions (NEA &AFT) have run the show for decades now. Both are “joined at the hip” with the Democratic (we might as well call it the “Liberal”) Party. As Rush Limbaugh says, “What those unions do is money laundering by funneling 10% of their income to Democratic candidates.”
    To Sailorvet:
    Isn’t it amazing that those painters couldn’t just take down a simple clock, then continue?
    Wonder how much (company) time was wasted while the painters sat there waiting for the Union electrician to come and take the clock off the hook?

  25. Sailorvet says:

    I am thoroughly disgusted with unions. Once several years ago I was at the Lockheed plant in Burbank Calif. and two painters were working in the olffice that I was visiting and in the course of painting they came to a wall clock hung there by a hook and they refused to remove it so that the work could proceed. They poroclaimed that it was a matter for a unionized electrician and they did not work until the electrician got there.
    That is the kind of culture of the unions and it must give way to common sense.

  26. Helen Lovely says:

    Great job Lee. It’s a new day & all of us must do our part on every level to facilitate real CHANGE. ACTION you can believe in is replacing the rhetoric. Hl

  27. George Michaud says:

    Tim Says:;

    I just had to come back at you since you one of a very few who seem level headed and has some common sense and you are using it. I agree with you obviously. I was going to say that I’ve never met a teacher I didn’t like but I can’t say that after taking College Courses with The University of Phoenix. With only sixteen credits away from my PhD I decided about a year ago to just forget about it. What had happened is The U of P was simply overloaded and overwhelmed since they had advertised too much and couldn’t keep up with the help they needed and qualified Professors. Also, I’m disabled and at this point in my life being on in years it just didn’t seem worth it to me to finish. I had problems with two of the Professors and I mean serious ones. Also had serous problems with The U of P administration, scheduling, counselors, etc. As you say, with regards to The Unions, Wisconsin in particular, “when a State does not have the money, they simply don’t”. It is as simply as that. Thank you sharing and for being one of those that is understanding of the real problems the States are having.

  28. Tim says:

    I am a retired (h.s.) public school teacher, having taught for 35 years. I must agree with (most) all of you that tenure is a very bad thing. I saw a few (not as many as people want to think, but some) tenured teachers who simply will not teach. They flip on the t.v., put in a video, then sit at their desk and grade papers (which should be done out of class). It saddens me to have to agree with the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin about making teachers pay more (now I do feel that any employee should have the right to collective bargaining) for health care and take a pay freeze. When a state does not have the money, they simply don’t.

  29. George Michaud says:

    Someone once said that…to paraphrase, “sometimes some of the best we have will become our worst”. Just think of what our great American Benjamin Franklin would be telling The American people in 2011. Franklin would be preaching the same words he spoke in 1774, which united, one and the same as The Governor of Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and others will The DEMS will look like fools as will the Unions. The teachers are caught up in the middle of all this but I, for one really don’t feel too sorry for them. They should have stuck to what only they know best, which in a few cases isn’t much, unfortunately for our children going to their schools. We must never allow Unions or anyone get that powerful again in this nation. Let’s remain free but always remember that Freedom is NOT FREE.

  30. DR. BATES says:

    Restore discipline to the classroom and see what a difference it will make!!!

  31. DR. BATES says:

    Just a minute! All this talk about teachers who cannot teach, and teachers who do not care about their students’ wellbeing….just a minute.
    From grade 1 through grade 12 I had careing teachers. They spent time making sure I passed each course in each grade. We had P.E. time each day with plenty of excercise. I always had books in good condition.
    I was disciplined by stern looks, being taken before the class for the second or third infraction, and held in the classroom after school if I had not yet learned my lesson.
    No, I was not from a great school or large town. But, from our high school of 120 kids, there came future doctors, lawyers, ministers, teachers that could teach, historians, public office holders, principles, college professors, business owners, dentists, college founders, and a host of great workers who took pride in raising a moral, honest family in the community.
    About 15% of all kids graduating from my high school went on to at least some college training or trade school.
    We also produced a multitude of Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force pilots and enlisted men/women. Patriots all!!
    There is only one thing that I have to say….I graduate in 1957 from Ringgold High, Ringgold, LA. Sorry that the kids today do not have the same opportunity at a fine education like I got.
    I am now holder of 5 earned degrees, including 2 masters and 2 doctorates.
    I founded Biblical Apostolic University in 1999 and have a vast enrollment primarily in the USA, but many from foreign nations.
    We did not have teachers’ unions then. Do we really need them now?

  32. CeAnn Brownell says:

    First, I haven’t read everyone’s comments, only Mr. Habeed’s article, which I agree with. Second, I was a teacher, but am no longer teaching, so this will not effect me monetarily. Lastly, when I was teaching it always drove me crazy to have my union dues go for the political stuff.
    But, if you get rid of tenure (which I’m for), there are some things that are going to need to be addressed concerning teacher evaluation. Kids don’t all grasp concepts at the same speed, and you DO NOT want to set-up a teacher evaluation system that makes it benificial for a teacher to have the “high “kids and negitive for them to have the “at-risk” kids (as in at-risk of failure). This is not an excuse, but it is a factor. You DO NOT want to create a system where teachers avoid teaching “at-risk” students for monetary or job retention reasons.
    This is probably secondary in the problem solving arena, but it is one of the few valid reasons to retain tenure, and therefore deserves being out on the table as this thing is discussed.
    As a qualifier,when I was teaching, my favorite kids to work with were the ones who were “at risk”. I enjoyed getting to know them and figuring out what would work to unlock things for them so they could make progress. However, not everyone feels that way AND they need to be taught too.

  33. TonyC says:

    Teachers making > $50/hour in a 185 day work year is outrageous! No teacher is worth that pay! Paying > $10,000 for tuition for grade school or high school is outrageous! Wake up America!

  34. Patti says:

    @Bob..I didn’t think the middle class was made of union members exclusively…Who represents the taxpayer at the bargaining table? Nobody. But you seem to think it’s okay for me to do without so the elite ‘union middle class’ gets whatever they want. Free the teachers from the union’s chains and we’ll likely see much better teachers and kids with much better educations..Added bonus: Taxpayers get to keep more of their money for their own families, healthcare and retirement.

  35. Rick Hightower says:

    I will have contributed to Social Security for 50 years when I retire in 4 years. I have contributed more in that 50 years than a teacher at 30 years yet I will receive more than $1200 per month less.

    We have to keep asking ourselves “who is paying for all this and how can we keep this up?”

    Teachers unions have complained about wages for decades yet they have a far, far better benefit plan than a majority of Americans. If you compare their time off each year to the average American their income is based on less than 10 months on the job.

    I have a lot of wonderful friends that taught for 30 to 35 years out of college and have been retired since their mid late 50’s. I wish them well and am envious that they can retire or even take on new careers. Many are retiring teaching and going back to teaching on a full or part time basis. Good for them. A vast majority are not Democrats so I hold them no ill will. The system is what it is, We just have to fix it.

    The left spent so many years complaining about how bad teachers salaries were yet never spoke to the “total compensation package” most of us consider in our jobs: wages, time off, healthcare, benefits, retirement, job satisfaction et al.

    Once again we ALLOWED the public sector to weigh on our emotions so we would not peel back the cover and see the real truth.

    Let Americans know what the SS taxpayer gets monthly at 66 for $50k average income over 50 years versus a year teacher that ends with a $65k salary after 35 years. No comparison.

    The comeback is teachers make far less money than the averge worker and that is just not true. Starting salaries are low but grow annually not unlike college graduates in non educational jobs. Don’t get me started on how so many make over $100k because that is just not true either.

    And that is where the problem lies. In Texas with other states being even more, living to 87 years old, a teacher retiriing at 57 would receive over $1.3 million dollars in retirement income.

    The same individual working in the SS system that retires at 66 and lives to 87 will receive $630,000. Remember a SS participant doesn’t receive full the full $2500 per month benefit until 66.

    Get the picture?

    Who is paying for all this? We are and our federal savings accounts are long gone.

    What was the Y generation that voted for Obama thinking?

    At least 11-2-10 proved a vast majority figured it out.

    Hopefully 11-2-12 will finish the job.

  36. Richard Rogers says:

    When my wife was teaching in the Wilmington. Del., public school system, there was a representation vote in which the choices were AFT or NEA. “None-of-the-above” was not offered as an option. That was one step better than an election in the Soviet Union were there would be only one choice.

  37. Mary says:

    I do appreciate the teachers who taught me. I never had homework until English literature in high school. Then, only when there was a paper to write. I worked full time from the time I was fourteen, and maintained good grades. The teachers taught me, and I did not need remedial math or English to succeed in college. Yes, we do have inferior teachers, many, many inferior teachers, compared to the teachers we had 60 + years ago.
    They cared about the students, not politics. They made sure that everyone in their class was inspired to do their best because if the child did not learn, the teacher felt responsible.
    All my teachers were exemplary in their life style, you would never see anyone like them loitering and defacing the capitol building in Wisconsin or anywhere else. Unions have not produced any good results in education.

  38. Jan says:

    Another thing about teachers is that there seems to be no problem with teachers expressing their personal political views in their classrooms, which are a captive audience. But God forbid that the students want to gather at a flagpole for morning prayers to protect the teachers and students. Students are not allowed to express religious views, but teachers and principals can give their students assignments that promote the Progressive agenda or promote acceptance of ideologies that the students to not agree with.

  39. Richard says:

    As an engineer who became a high school science teacher, I’ve seen both sides. The minute I became a teacher I saw the inefficiency of the educational process and how backward many educators were compared to what we were doing in industry. I also realized that the product we got, the students, weren’t coming to us in a high enough quality for us to produce something useable by the customer, the public and all its employers.
    I want to make productive citizens, who are givers, making money and new jobs, and not takers, collecting welfare and being able to vote to keep it that way.
    We teachers are not getting students who are ready to be high school students, they are coming into 9th grade with 3rd grade math levels, and many are unable to pronounce 4 syllable words.
    If teachers are going to be evaluated by the quality of their work, give the teachers materials they can work with. The southern border is porous and we are being invaded by illiterate takers who are diluting our educational system. In fact, the US government is subsidizing illegal immigration! The schools get ADA (average daily attendance) for every student in every classroom, irregardless of whether that student is here legally or if that student is intellectually prepare to succeed in school.
    Before everyone tries to judge the teachers’ fitness to teach, based on the students’ test scores, let the teachers set a standard for who is allowed into their school!
    The governments, both state and federal, are neither controlling the borders, nor their own spending. They give money away to secure their political positions. Teachers are the new scapegoats.
    I still want to teach, I love to teach, and I still get good students, and I will survive no matter what, but I can see a gang fight when I see one, and because of a lack of founds in our economy, I see society turning on itself, and it doesn’t look hopeful . Who will the next scapegoats be?

    Don’t punish teachers just because the government won’t control the border.
    Before you grade a teacher, allow the teachers to set incoming requirements for the students we have to teach.
    Is this attack on teachers supposed to increase the intellectual abilities of our students? If so, make sure the students can make use of their education. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
    Stop giving away welfare. Stop giving away free food in the schools.
    Stop wasting money on administrators who don’t want to be in the classroom and have less regard for the teachers they are overseeing. They harass the teachers and even try to tell the teachers how to teach!!!
    Stop letting politicians use teachers as scapegoats for the economic mess our country is in.
    I tell my students they will be working for the Chinese or Indians, because my top students have been coming from other countries, the local kids are not my top students. There seems to be a lack of a work ethic in our lower economic kids, besides the fact that there are many kids that do not have a nuclear family.
    Attacking the bargaining rights will just eliminate our middle class, but trying to educate those that are not prepared for education, or who have low self esteem and don’t see any future for themselves, will just bankrupt our country even more.
    Everyone here needs to have hope to be inspired and to be able to thrive. We need heroes, not crotch scratching cussing media hounds and overpaid actors and athletes. Our country of jaded gossipers may not be able to thrive without faith, hope, love, and honest heroes.

  40. Bob says:

    If you can read, write, and count you better thank your teacher. You should also thank your parents for making you do your homework. A teacher can only spend approx. 50min. a day on one subject. They provide students with information and it is up to the parents to ensure that their child brings that information home to be reinforced by the parents.Regarding Tenure, because of the nature of the profession it is vital to ensure that a teacher is not dismissed without just cause. Tenured teaches will in the near future can be dismissed within approx. three months after due process. Now look at this from a political view. Most teachers are middle class citizens who belong to a union . Almost all union employees vote Democratic. The Republicans are trying to weaken the unions to create only two classes the RICH and the POOR. Check your history and see how people were treated without unions. DON’T LET THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE ONLY FOR THE RICH PULL THE MIDDLE CLASS APART.

  41. Geep says:

    I am also not a big fan of unions, however they did create the middle class and at this point, I think that the middle class are really the ones on the ropes. The middle class is beginning to diminish at an alarming rate. A good many of the working class people are not making a good living wage. There is compromise in every situation, and it should be followed in this one. When I was a kid in school, I had some excellent teachers, and some really lousy ones. Sorry to say that my children didn’t have it any better. And so it goes. There must be found a way to get rid of the non-producers. Tenure is a bad idea.

  42. Bessel says:

    We do have to be careful about the policemen and firemen’s unions. They cannot and should not ever go on strike. Don’t remember them doing so, however I’ve heard some recent statistics about their retirement packages. A large percentage retire on disability, even though they never fired a gun or got into a firefight, or even climbed a fence after a perpetrator. I know of state workers, who upon retiring, all of a sudden have “problems” and get a dr. or shrink to pronounce them disabled. They get a big pension. Many of these people don’t even know what a full day’s work really is. They feel entitled to getting extra money for a phoney condition. Then they go to atlantic city every week and gamble their pension money.

  43. Bessel says:

    The AARP supports all the liberal causes such as obamcare. They are pushing it so they can get millions more under their advantage and other plans. I dropped my membership in this liberal biased organization. (I became suspicious when I kept seeing liberal actors and others portrayed in their magazine as wonderful people).

  44. Bessel says:

    My son as well as millions of other students have been given the hate the mean white man routine by their public school teachers, who are mostly white themselves. These left wing failures need to be purged from the school system. Let us get the rotten marxist wood out of the system. It starts with the unions. They should not have a union, since we can’t bargain with them face to face. Their greedy raises and special classes have raised property taxes in nj to astronomical levels. Get the unions out of here now.

  45. Greg says:

    SO right Doug Farrow….THe unions have really evolved into a non interested third party motivated by their own greed. Literally profit seeking….. They hide under this propogation of “caring about membership”…..They just want money….all off the back of their membership……….Unions have long outlived their useful life…..

  46. Greg says:

    Union pensions are a joke………The whole concept of union pensions is wrong…..thye do nothing to establish wealth…they merely sustain some standard of living….Put that same money into a private investment or retirement vehicle and you can not only retire off it but you can pass on the remaining wealth should you die. Union pensions stop once you die….Sounds like the union just hopes you die…… Just a thought….

  47. Doug Farrow says:

    Workers have the right to individually or in a group (collectively) present grievances to management. Things went wrong, as usual, when the government got involved and forced their rules on free enterprise. The creatiuon of unions added another layer of cost to the wage/benefit package, namely union organizers and managers. Now the unions are a business unto themselves. They make the deals and build in enough margin to not just enrich themselves, but to buy politicians. There is no audit and controls over where the mnoney goes and obviously no risk analysis was done to point out the growing unfunded imbalance between money in against future outlays. Now the piper has to be paid.

  48. Greg says:

    So So right….This cycle of public unions feeding politicians who in turn reward the same special interest group……..for nearly 30 years (or longer) there has never been wnybody to represent our interest when the public entity sits down with union bosses to negotiate……I think Teachers whom are great should be paid great…those that are no good should pack their bags……I am glad people are finally hearing the truth about what these unions really stand for….They only want power which really means money…all at the expense of the real middle class workers in the fomr of higher taxes….

  49. Jeff says:

    Dear Dave S.: I’ve been a college professor, a professional in the corporate world, and most recently, have owned my own business (now for twenty years.) In each and every one of those positions, I assumed that I could always be replaced by either someone better than me, or someone willing to work for less. It’s the law of supply and demand. Employees who demand to have an edge in their business life, like assurances that they cannot be fired, or guaranteed pay raises and paid benefits, are, in my estimation, childish and selfish. Any employee should prove their value and make themselves irreplaceable…AND…they should constantly look for ways to improve themselves so that if and when they do lose their jobs, or fail to get the raises they feel they deserve, they can present their value proposition to their next employer, or even start their own business. The American dream is NOT having a gravy-train job that allows you to make a living regardless of your contribution. The American dream is to rise according to your skills and abilities, overcoming obstacles along the way, and understand that there will almost certainly be someone who will challenge you…and THAT is what creates excellence! It’s time our country remembered what the American dream is, and understand that to achieve it requires hard work, and a willingness to compete. And it’s time we taught our children (and perhaps our teachers) that our nation will fail when everyone expects to prosper regardless of their contribution.

    And with regards to pensions…I have employed dozens of employees, largely of my willingness to work 60-80 hour weeks, and risk everything financially. I’m in my mid-fifties, and have (so far) unfortunately, been unable to set money back for my own retirement. But, apparently, I am expected, through my ridiculously high taxes, to ensure the pensions of those who “work for me” as public employees. Sorry…just don’t get that pensions are a “right!”

  50. Kim says:

    All unions breed mediocrity. Everything based on seniority and not on performance. What incentive do the newer workers have to be better than than others when they can not be promoted because of lack of seniority.

  51. J Blake says:

    The teachers in my day, were paided a modest salary, no health
    insurance, and contributed toward
    their own retirement. And most high-
    school graduates, could go on to
    to collage or industry without remedial classes, in reading, writting,and math.
    It’s time something is done, to enforce basic academic discipline
    in our schools. And it starts with the
    teachers. If they are not capable,” of teaching”, then they should be
    replaced, along with the person that
    evaluates them. If they want to keep
    their teachers unions, then the unions had better start policing themselves.

  52. Bob says:

    Not just teacher’s unions – all unions. Unions protect the lazy and incompetant while preventing qualified, hard working people from taking the jobs. No one should have to join a godless, marxist, gang of thugs and thieves to have a job.

  53. Keith M. says:

    The public sector unions are over stepping their bounds. They are getting violent and lashing out at all non union people because they know their fat cat days are numbered. They act like gang bangers and thugs.

  54. Lewis Clark says:

    A system which encourages elected officials to grant teachers and other public sector workers benefits that are way out of line with the private sector can only be described as corrupt. No wonder our young people fall under the influence of ultra-liberal and often socialist tendencies, thanks to their teachers. These young people flocked in droves to elect B. H. Obama, one of our least competent presidents to date, because of the views promoted openly by their teachers. The gravy train should come to an end soon. Teachers should be well paid, to attract the best people to educate our youth. They should contribute to their retirement and other benefits in line with the private sector. Belonging to a union is unprofessional for teachers and state university professors.

  55. Dave Smith says:

    Alright Lee, let’s say that Amac has a difficult time with funding. In order to keep the business open it’s easier for them to hire new writers at 30K then to pay you what they’re paying you. Therefore, they let you go and hire Joe. 3 years and a couple of raises later, Amac must cut back on spending again. This time they cut Joe loose and again hire a new writer. I hope you see how this can/could work out against you. I’m not a big union fan BUT – the bottom line is many times the bottom line with school districts and if they had the ability to just broom out experience everytime the pay was to high??? Would the students be better served to have a new teacher every couple of years? Term limits for teachers? You can’t paint all the teachers and the union with the same wide brush. And for what it’s worth – I take offense to your comparing teachers with inmates.
    Ask yourself about the teachers that have stood in front of you. Were they worth what they were paid? Do they deserve a pension?

  56. Sharon says:

    Long overdue…I’m sick of protecting and paying for the teachers who don’t believe in their jobs enough to teach our upcoming future adults that they need to learn in school, and not rely on other people to keep them in a job when they don’t deserve it…When my children were in school I saw my fair share of teachers who should not have been teaching..they ridiculed and made fun of children instilling nothing positive.They should have been fired ,not reprimanded time and time again.

  57. Tom says:

    John, you are so right on. If you can’t hold a job on your own there is a reason and you must be replaced except if your are a union member.

  58. John M Mikkelsen says:

    The time of the need for unions is long past.It is time to reward excellence and dismiss mediocrity!

  59. Mary says:

    Amen!!!

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