Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This is about the Teachers Unions not about Education

The following piece appears on the American Thinker. I could not have said it better myself and agree with the sentiments.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

January 27, 2010
Obama's education increases to benefit teachers' unions
Ed Lasky

Barack Obama will propose major increases in funding for education in his State of The union speech tonight, according to reports. Federal education spending will be set to rise by at least 6.2 percent, with much of the funds flowing to elementary and secondary education but also will include boosts in higher-education grants and community funding. This is politically appealing (politicians use kids for their campaigns as companies use animals to sell products, or movie tickets). They are tools to promote an agenda-to reward and motivate a super-special Democratic interest group. Who can be against spending money to improve the future of our kids and country?

In reality, this spending will flow into the pockets of one of the most important special interest groups in the nation: teachers and their unions (led by the National Education Association that hides its union status by styling itself an "association" but also by the American Federation of Teachers that also camouflages its union status). Teachers are often the "free" labor that fuels campaigns: teachers man the phones, hand out the pamphlets, knock on doors, invest funds in campaigns, and serve as the all important delegates at Democratic nominating conventions One-tenth of all delegates to Democratic conventions are teachers' union members-including principals and administrators.

One of the many ways that Obama has helped unions is by killing the regulations that require unions to report on how their members' dues are spent. A fair speculation is that much of the spending will go towards electing their sugar daddies and not towards our children.

One of the prime sources of states fiscal collapse across the nation are the dollars flowing to teachers and the administrators who "supervise" and "manage" them. The golden pensions that have been bestowed on them by politicians have been time bombs that are beginning to explode and like a string of black cat firecrackers will continue to explode for years to come.
Teachers can often retire at a young age, with pensions artificially inflated by "spiking" their salaries upwards the last couple of years of their employment (pensions are often based on an average of the salaries of the last few years of service). They are guaranteed by law. Taxpayer dollars flowing to teachers are recycled into the pockets of campaigns run by politicians.

This is a waste of funds. The money has been shown to have very little if any correlation to educational achievement. Education spending per child in Washington, D.C, for just one example, are quite high and achievement is quite low. Of course, politicians could care less about such foreign concepts as return on investment. If they did, they would fund charter schools (that they have killed in Washington) and voucher programs. But it is more than merely a poor investment - it is a redundant one.

The so-called stimulus bill already has funneled $100 billion dollars into "education", supposedly meant to prevent layoffs (which it probably has - but how about teachers taking some pay cuts or trimming their pensions) and to spur reform. The best reform would be pay for performance, vouchers, and charter schools. We have seen precious little of that so far and it would be a fair bet we will see little of that going forward. But with Democrats facing political problems they have to ensure that one of their key political bases remains well-fed and in their corner - if not our kids' corners.

No comments: