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Posted at 5:30 AM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Randi Weingarten scolds KIPP

By Jay Mathews

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She was responding to my request for her union's view of the charge that union rules might force KIPP to close its high-performing schools in Baltimore.

Weingarten was not happy. She unloaded the harshest assessment of KIPP, the nation's best-known charter school network, and its dealings with her and her union I have ever heard from her.

She said KIPP is playing by its own set of rules. She said the network, with 99 schools in 20 states and the District, has undermined her repeated attempts to establish a relationship that would allow them to work together for the greater good of children and public schools.

She said a year ago she helped give KIPP schools in Baltimore a special agreement with the Baltimore Teachers Union, part of the AFT, that allowed them to have longer school days without paying teachers the financially back-breaking full hourly rate under the city's teacher contract. Weingarten said she helped KIPP as a gesture of good faith in the discussions they had been having about national cooperation. KIPP repaid her initiative on its behalf, she said, by criticizing the New York local of her union and by going to the press rather than negotiating seriously an extension of KIPP's deal in Baltimore.

I was a surprised that Weingarten was sharing this with me, since I am the biographer of KIPP co-founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg and have often praised its schools. But I have also called Weingarten is one of the most innovative labor leaders in the country. I respect both KIPP and the AFT, and wonder if there is a way to work out their differences.

KIPP is seeking a ten-year extension of its one-year agreement with the BTU. Under that deal, it can afford to keep its 9 1/2 hour school days because its teachers are paid 20.5 percent extra for the extended day, much less than under the current union contract. Still, the extra money means KIPP Baltimore teachers are among the best paid in the city. KIPP says it needs a ten-year deal or it will be unable to raise money to get a long-term lease and renovate its building and expand to help more students.

KIPP Baltimore's middle school, Ujima Village Academy, is one of the highest performing schools in the city, despite having mostly low-income students. It has an elementary school, KIPP Harmony Academy. The pay agreement was supported by 100 percent of KIPP Baltimore teachers, a KIPP spokesman said. KIPP officials, saying they need a fall-back if they don't get an agreement from the BTU by June 30, are lobbying for a change in Maryland law that will allow KIPP to make amendments to the Baltimore teachers contract for its own teachers if 80 percent of them approve.

Weingarten said that despite the good meeting she had in 2009 with KIPP Foundation chief executive Richard Barth, Levin and others, "there was no followup conversation about the aspirational goals we had together" to improve U.S. schools.

She said the KIPP people at that meeting indicated they would do more fund-raising to support the Baltimore schools so they would not have to ask for such heavy concessions from the union. But, she said, they did not raise enough funds and decided instead to try to get their way without the union by seeking a change in the state law. Maryland is one of the few states that requires charter school teachers to be represented by labor unions.

Weingarten said BTU officials had a good meeting with KIPP Baltimore executive director Jason Botel on Valentine's Day and asked him to send them a written version of the deal extension he was proposing. (Botel said the BTU did not ask him for the proposal in writing until Feb. 28, and he submitted it March 3.)

Instead on continuing the negotiation process, Weingarten said, KIPP people began to tell the press that KIPP might have to close the Baltimore schools if it did not get a ten year extension. That was reported this week in the Baltimore Sun. The Washington Post published an editorial supporting KIPP's plans, including the state law change.

Weingarten said she has negotiated an innovative contract in Baltimore that allows for more pay for teachers based in part on improved student performance. She said the city's other charters were not complaining about the union, and that the BTU's initial agreement with Botel showed that the union could work with KIPP. Yet KIPP seems to have no faith, she said, that consulting with her, rather than going to the press and seeking changes in state law, will achieve its goals.

Weingarten has proven she can move beyond traditional union resistance to allowing charters schools, weakening tenure protection and providing merit pay, but prefers to make those moves quietly. There are many members of her union who consider KIPP the enemy and make it difficult for her to have discussions in public.

She said the BTU is still open to extending its deal with KIPP Baltimore, which I suppose is a good sign that the two sides have a chance to return to the brief era of good feeling in December 2009.

I asked KIPP for a response to Weingarten. Barth sent me this statement:

"KIPP's focus has always been on keeping our promises to students and families. We are eager to work with the AFT and others who will help us achieve that goal.

"Last year, Randi's team at the AFT and BTU were instrumental in helping KIPP Baltimore secure an agreement that allowed our schools to operate for another year with our extended time schedule. KIPP Baltimore's teachers fully supported these terms. At that time, everyone understood that KIPP Baltimore needed a long-term solution to its contract issues.

"The time to agree on that long-term solution is now. Maryland's legislative session ends this April and the current agreement between KIPP Baltimore and BTU expires in June, 2011.

"We have presented BTU with a proposal to extend the terms of the current one-year agreement for an additional ten years. We hope that what worked for the BTU last year will work for them going forward.

"Unless we achieve a resolution soon, KIPP Baltimore will cease to exist after this school year. We feel a sense urgency to reach a solution."

You can read his statement, and what Weingarten told me, as hopeful. I am going to take it that way. If one of the best urban schools in the country was closed because of a law that requires union membership for charter school teachers, the relations between the charter school movement---still one of the most robust developments in American education---and the teachers unions would suffer a severe blow. That would not be good for schoolchildren or anyone else.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education Web page.

By Jay Mathews  | March 4, 2011; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  Trends  | Tags:  Baltimore Teachers Union, Baltimore schools, KIPP, KIPP Ujima Village, KIPP threatens to close its Baltimore schools, Randi Weingarten  
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Comments

I missed where there was no workable solution to the long-term problem. KIPP jumped the gun IMO. If they really had the support of their teachers, why not try again, this time for a longer-term contract? Why was this untenable?

This situation highlights one of the biggest problems with KIPP and KIPP-like CMO's: that longer school day and year is really expensive to fund. Perhaps KIPP should focus on elementary schools and then try to build out from a strong, competent student base in the higher grades. If KIPP has good teachers, these students should not fall behind as other poor children do since discipline issues, truant, transient children will fall away of their own accord. KIPP will still have a great role to play in Baltimore. I think they need to develop a different strategy to get there instead of saying "we have to close down our schools."

Posted by: Nikki1231 | March 4, 2011 6:03 AM | Report abuse

KIPP never should have allowed itself to become entangled with AFT union thugs in the first place. We were thrilled in NY when Randi Whinergarten left NY for the national headquarters.

KIPP's prior "success" was due to the fact that its teachers were NON-UNION. This is what happens when an innovative, free-market operation succumbs to Nanny union bosses and dares to require something "different" from the collective.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I attended a session with Randi Weingarten at the Teach For American 20th Anniversary Summit three weeks ago that completely changed my perspective on her. (You can read about it on my blog: http://educationescritora.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/randi-weingarten-unions-and-teacher-quality/) It's hard to know at this point what actually happened when two sides say different things, but I am inclined to think that she's more on KIPP's side than the title of this piece would suggest.

Posted by: eduescritora | March 4, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't KIPP just offer a public apology, and get back to work on the longterm deal. If they slowed progress by negotiating in the press, why not own up to it, learn, and move on?

Posted by: johnt4853 | March 4, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

For Nikki1231---That's an insightful comment, and is exactly what KIPP is doing. I has many elementary schools open and expects when those kids reach 5th grade they will be at or above grade level and not need the hero teachers who work so hard with kids two or three years below grade level at KIPP middle schools. You may recall I did a column two months ago expressing concern that this new approach would hurt fifth graders who still needed KIPP's help and had not gotten into the KIPP elementary schools. The KIPP people said they would not stop taking in fifth graders new to KIPP, and that the emphasis on earlier intervention was just one more tool that they could use to help more kids.

For eduescritora---I am intrigued by yr post and will go to your blog right now. If you have time, another post here summarizing your impressions would help readers in a rush. Me? I don't commute anymore, and am still in my pajamas, or at least the sweat suit that substitutes for them. Being a house husband is a great gig.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | March 4, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

For eduescritora again---Just read your terrific post on your blog. I am delighted that a former teacher and astute analyst like you shares the view the Weingarten is a force for good in education. I was in Waiting for Superman, and agree with most of the points the film made, but not with the union bashing, and particularly not with the attempt to make Weingarten the villain. There are plenty of clueless teachers union leaders out there, but Weingarten is not one of them. She is not perfect. She has to listen to her members, many of whom think the charter school movement is the work of the Devil, but she is also listening to the many younger members who say that the union should get serious about helping teachers improve at their craft, and help them seek other opportunities if they can't hack it in the classroom. I like it when she returns my calls because she is very smart, candid and fun to talk to, just like Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | March 4, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Since when do the union bosses listen to their members? What planet do you live on in your sweatsuit, Mr. Mathews? The AFT and the NEA exist to line the pockets of the Democrats with the union dues of their members. Beyond that, the unions use their power to influence textbooks and push left-wing propaganda into our public schools. Take a look at their latest "quest":

http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1798/pub_detail.asp

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Governors Christie and Scott have it right - get rid of tenure:

http://wn.com/Randi_Weingarten_on_Tenure

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

http://michellemalkin.com/2011/03/02/teachers-unions-101-a-is-for-agitation/

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, interesting that you mention Christie. When Wall Street (perhaps I should call it Wail Street, since you often change names to suit your point) was being bailed out he often said we can't change their contracts (in reference to their bonuses) but now that teacher contracts are being discussed, he is all for changing terms and promises.

Posted by: researcher2 | March 4, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

R2,

Let's see - contracts agreed to in the PAST vs. reform of future contracts.

Do you honestly think that Cuomo's recent recommendation to cap Superintendent salaries at $179,000 is going to apply to those already making over $300,000? No, of course it won't. They will be "grandfathered", just as the execs who were guaranteed bonuses under their old contracts were "grandfathered".

It's call reality and business, R2. No hypocrisy on Christie's part at all. Something must be done to walk back these outrageous entitlements to public sector unions which are bankrupting individual states.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

R2,

Let's see - contracts agreed to in the PAST vs. reform of future contracts.

Do you honestly think that Cuomo's recent recommendation to cap Superintendent salaries at $179,000 is going to apply to those already making over $300,000? No, of course it won't. They will be "grandfathered", just as the execs who were guaranteed bonuses under their old contracts were "grandfathered".

It's called reality and business, R2. No hypocrisy on Christie's part at all. Something must be done to walk back these outrageous entitlements to public sector unions which are bankrupting individual states.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

oops, sorry about the double post, thought I caught it before it went through!

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually Lisa, they are not simply talking about reforming future contracts; they are changing aspects of current contracts and retirement changes affect past contracts.

The reason states are going bankrupt and can't afford the pensions that current and past contracts stipulate (hence why states want to change not just future contracts) is the pension plans ended up heavily invested in sub-prime mortgages and other wall street scams. They lost a ton of money due to those poor investments.

In addition, it is not the public sector unions which are bankrupting our nation. It is the huge corporations who pay no taxes (at least US taxes, many pay taxes to other Countries but not to ours...and yes, I am speaking of American companies).

The fact that people so easily bemoan teachers and other union members while ignoring corporations who fail to pay taxes astounds me. Don't people understand which costs us more? Don't they understand that the tax burden is heavier on us, the middle class, when corporations don't pay their fair share?

Posted by: researcher2 | March 4, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Never thought I would see Wall Street contracts discussed on this blog. I used to be the Post's Wall Street reporter, a job I disliked and finally escaped to cover schools. I am thinking of warning lisamc31 and researcher2 that any further mention of the W and S words will get them banned from the blog.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | March 4, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Jay for your compliments! I hope you will keep reading my blog and sharing feedback with me. Your columns give me lots to discuss!

Posted by: eduescritora | March 4, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

No W or S words. Hmmmm. That's not playing fair! ;-)

However, I think I can rebut R2's ridiculous idea that U.S. corporations pay "no taxes" with the following without using 'W' or 'S':

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/22917.html

You really need to get over your "I hate the free market and the fat cats who make money" mentality, R2. Communism is so passe'. ;-)

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, I don't hate the free market and I am not advocating communism. http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/01/ge-exxon-walmart-business-washington-corporate-taxes.html
"Corporations are getting smarter, not just about doing more business in low-tax countries, but in moving their more valuable assets there as well. That means setting up overseas subsidiaries, then transferring to them ownership of long-lived, often intangible but highly profitable assets, like patents and software.

As a result, figures tax economist Martin Sullivan, companies are keeping some $28 billion a year out of the clutches of the U.S. Treasury by engaging in so-called transfer pricing arrangements",

http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-pay-lowest-tax-loopholes-2011-2

http://finance.yahoo.com/taxes/article/109244/what-the-top-us-companies-pay-in-taxes

Posted by: researcher2 | March 4, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

R2,

Tell me you see no connection between GE not paying taxes and the Obama administration (do the names Jeffrey Immelt and NBC ring a bell?) If you want to blame "big corps" for lousy returns on pension investment funds, I suggest you start with Corps like GE and GM which are in bed with the Left which is determined to destroy the American economy.

From your Yahoo article:

"ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM - News) paid more income taxes than any other U.S. company last year, some $15 billion, or 47% of pretax earnings. Exxon's peers Chevron (NYSE: CVX - News) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP - News) likewise paid out more than half their earnings in income taxes."

Looks like those "evil" oil companies are paying more than their fair share. But let's put a moratorium on drilling so they can't continue to do so, right?

Even when YOU supply the facts, your political partisanship blinds you to the truth. As to outsourcing business to foreign countries, DUH! Could it be because the corporate tax rate is substantially LOWER than here in the U.S.? Why, yes it can. The way to encourage business to remain made in the U.S.A. is to cut the corporate tax rate to be competitive with other countries and stop "crony statist capitalism" with companies like GE.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 4, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, I didn't mention left or right, democrat or republican, oil versus GE. You politicized it. I am comparing governors and others bashing union members/labor/teachers as if that is the crux of our economic woes, when in reality it is not the main issue or the main tax burden.

Pension plans for teachers in most states invested heavily in sub-prime mortgages; most US corporations don't pay their "fair" share in taxes; other countries benefit more from those corporations than the US does.

It is so easy to union bash, and so easy to simply take KIPP's side here. but there is more involved than simply KIPP versus the union (ala Randi trying to negotiate on their behalf) and there is so much more to our economic woes than teachers earning a decent wage.

Posted by: researcher2 | March 5, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Jay Mathews,
Your comment about banning discussion of wall Street and corporations as if our schools financial problems exist in a vacuum is telling of whose side you are on and who you want to protect. Do oyu really want to keep the ridiculous explanation of States budgets problems being caused by pensions and health care that are part of the wages of public sector employees? This bait and switch is designed to make the public forget who really caused these problems: The greed of Wall Street and the Corporations. The Post and Gov Walker need to break their "Koch" habit or the idea that American workers do not deserve health care or retirement or dignity will become an idea shared by more than the Super Rich and their Sycophants. Most American children live in working families. If you care about them and their future you need to choose sides here. Or maybe you already have.

Posted by: kmlisle | March 5, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

kmlisle -

"Koch habit" - I love it!

R2,

Your refusal to understand that public union BENEFITS are sucking U.S. taxpayers and states dry, is simply unbelievable. All of this crybaby carrying on about teacher, police and fireman's "rights" being violated when it comes to eliminating collective bargaining on benefits is garbage. Collective bargaining is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. And for the record, Federal union employees do NOT have collective bargaining for benefits.

Jay Mathews is a "celebrity" Progressive. Check out his bio on the Center for American Progress.

KIPP may have been a "good thing". But by letting the union camel under its tent, it has sealed its own demise. Unless KIPP cuts ties with the AFT now, it will be gone from the educational scene in 5 years.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

kmlisle,

Just a clarification as to why I loved your phrase "Koch habit". It's not because you used it to defend your misperception of economics, it's because the Left has found Conservative billionaires that rival the wealth of George Soros and try and are trying to scapegoat the Koch brothers.

Do union workers "deserve" healthcare and retirement benefits? Within reason. In Colorado, teachers pay approx. 50% into their pensions. In NY, they only pay 3% for the first 10 years and then the public picks up 100%. Which state has a bigger deficit? NY.

Our country is in dire economic straits. Everyone has to give, including unions. Big decisions must be made. Unions pushed for passage of the unconstitutional Obamacare bill. They want and want and want without giving a thought as to how their "entitlements" will be paid for and with total disregard to 88% of the public who fund their salaries and benefits. Enough is enough.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, Your refusal to understand that Wall Street and corporations not paying their fair share of TAXES is sucking U.S Taxpayers and states dry, is simply unbelievable. All of this crybaby carrying on about teacher, police and fireman causing our nation's problems is garbage.

In addition, it is well known that the states with the best public education statistics, K-12 are the states with unions, unions that have collective bargaining too.
The right to work states, some with unions but no collective bargaining, and states with no unions, are the ones whose schools fair far worse.

Posted by: researcher2 | March 5, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, I agree that all should give, hence my comments regarding corporations paying their fair share of taxes, and that people/CEO's bailed out by us taxpayers shouldn't receive outrageous bonuses. And for the record, no one is scapegoating the Koch brothers. You clearly understand the implications of their funding endeavors.

Posted by: researcher2 | March 5, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

R2,

Uh oh. You used the "W" and "S" words ....

As to your "well-known" fact about states with the "best" public education statistics having unions with collective bargaining, I'm afraid I'm unaware of that fact. I think we might also dispute what constitutes "best" education statistics. So a link to empirical data backing up your claim would be most helpful.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I may not be an expert economist Lisa but I am a well educated, well read thoughtful citizen with every right to express my opinion and am in no way naive. So lets stick to the facts and stop the personal attacks. Bargaining rights for me as a teacher are not about money. They are about having a voice in my workplace so I can advocate for my students. You hear from fire fighters about not having a voice in safety regulations, for teachers it is about being able to speak up for the children in our classes when we see a problem without losing our jobs. That due process and protection of working conditions which include protections for children as well as teachers are all things I see my local union advocate for constantly. This is the part of collective bargaining i don't want to lose. I have attended too many meetings where the veteran teachers with a professional contract (called tenure by some, but actually due process) did all the talking in support of changes needed for our students. The young teachers sat silent and the veterans did the talking. So you remove those due process protections and you remove our voices from the local schools. They are already gone from the national conversation. I do need to pay my bills. I have already taken major cuts and freezes to my salary in a state with one of the lowest compensation rates for teachers in the country. Remember teachers spend a good part of their salaries directly on needy kids in their classroom from food to clothing to school supplies, all out of our "bloated" salaries. So don't talk to us about contributing to society because it is by definition our career path. but when I see major corporations who benefited from the bailout and receive subsidies like the oil companies whose profits are at an all time high, pay no taxes at all I think I have a point about shared sacrifice. And you call me greedy for demanding that the contract negotiated in good faith be honored (remember it takes 2 to negotiate)! And the facts are that our system has become skewed to transfer income from working Americans up the food chain to the very rich and this in my view is destabilizing our entire society and weakening our democracy. The more you starve education and make health care unfordable the more you weaken our country and the people who are most at risk are the young people who face student loans and who make up 60% of those without health care. Corporations continue to get government bailouts and subsidies, pay obscene wages to a few at the top by starving the workers. Shared Sacrifice my **s!

Posted by: kmlisle | March 5, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

link (and note there is an update): http://www.businessinsider.com/states-where-teachers-unions-are-illegal-2011-2

Posted by: researcher2 | March 5, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"Bargaining rights for me as a teacher are not about money. They are about having a voice in my workplace so I can advocate for my students." - kmlisle

Is that so? Why don't you give me 3 examples of how you have recently "advocated for students" that you would have been unable to do without a union?

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

R2,

Ummm, did you actually look at the 2007 chart? Did you happen to notice where California is on the list?

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Jay, Thank you for trying to create communication where there appears to have been a breakdown. We need more of that in our educational discourse--real dialogue among stakeholders, that is.

In terms of your comment that charter schools are "still one of the most robust developments in American education,"
Diane Ravitch recently posted the following claims about most charters not being very successful. Have you found any research that counters her claims? (see below)

"Charters vary widely in quality. Last year a national evaluation by Margaret Raymond of Stanford University (including data from 2,403 charters and 70 percent of all charter students) found that only 17% outperformed regular public schools; that 46% had learning gains no different from regular public schools; and that 37% had gains that were worse than regular public schools. Raymond concluded, “This study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS [traditional public school] counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools face.” She went on to say that “If this study shows anything, it shows that we’ve got a two-to-one margin of bad charters to good charters.”

stahttp://www.dianeravitch.com/testimony.html

Posted by: emilygasoi | March 5, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@lisamc3:

I think you have a point about pensions and benefits. The whole thing needs to be overhauled. As a Philly school teacher, I am stunned at the excellent variety of, for example, health care choices I enjoy. Far more than any of my friends. There's only one problem: me, my husband and my son have never had a serious illness. We are all in good physical health so this "benefit" is only potentially a benefit for me, not a *real* benefit. OTOH, my employer pays REAL money for near-cadillac benefits to the health care provider.

Here's my solution to this completely absurd problem of astronomical benefits:

1) Health care should be publicly managed. I as a school teacher will have access to the same package as everyone else. We can't go on allowing private insurers to just charge whatever the he** they want and we just pay it.

2) The employer (school districts) should PAY TEACHERS MORE directly instead of siphoning my money off to private health care providers who make a fortune raising premiums every year.

3) Let me choose my investment vehicles. Perhaps we can leverage a better package due to investing as a large group (10 K plus employees). If I want to fund a pension or a 401K, I can pay for that with my increased salary.

This is the common sense approach to the budget problems we are facing. Public employees should not be getting rich off of their jobs. Nor should they be shut out of the middle class due to extortionate health care premiums. The structures for pensions and benefits was created decades ago as a means to reward hard-working, long-term gov employees with little opportunity to make a high wage in their jobs. We have to move beyond that and start looking at DIRECT compensation for employees and allow them to make decisions regarding retirement investments, healthcare benefits, that make sense for themselves.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | March 5, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Nikki123,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I'm going to agree with half of them ;-)

Public management of healthcare is and will be a disaster. The passage of Obamacare without the revision of companies being able to sell insurance across state lines insures that only a limited number of insurance companies can sell policies in each state. Those companies, or even a public option, will only drive up rates even higher and the quality of care will decline. You are blessed that your family has not had to collect on health insurance. I wish someone would pay our health insurance policy - oh that's right. We can't afford one for my husband and myself as we are self-employed. We did take one out for our daughter, thank God, through her college and due to serious health concerns this year, I am so glad we did. It has more than paid for itself.

You are spot on with wanting to be able to privately invest your income as you see fit for retirement. That is wise. Look what happened with the MTA in NY and its investments - what a disaster!

I'm sure PA pays less than NY. I fully appreciate the hard work and dedication of good teachers. But frankly, the whining I hear regarding base salaries (not you) is offensive. In my little district of 2300 students, we have an annual budget of over $70M. 80% of that is for teacher salaries and benefits. Our average teacher's salary is $87,000 a year for 182 days of work. Summers off, full week at Christmas Winter and Spring breaks, I mean, we're not exactly talking slave labor here.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The problem is, what’s best for teachers is NOT always best for the children.

Randi Weingarten's union advocacy has for years put children in NYC public schools at risk.

From the New Yorker:

"Cerf’s response is that “this is not about teachers; it is about children.” He says, “We all agree with the idea that it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent person be imprisoned.

But by laying that on to a process of disciplining teachers you put the risk on the kids versus putting it on an occasional innocent teacher losing a job.

For the union, it’s better to protect one thousand [bad] teachers than to wrongly accuse one.”

Anthony Lombardi, the principal of P.S. 49, a mostly minority Queens elementary school, puts it more bluntly: “Randi Weingarten would protect a dead body in the classroom. That’s her job."

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill#ixzz1FkzdnOB2

Posted by: frankb1 | March 5, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, frankb1.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post explained the situation best:

"Poor children learn. Teachers unions are not pleased."

"The desperation of poor parents whose children are stuck on waiting lists for charter schools is well-founded. And every time the union scores another lobbying success in Albany -- or Annapolis, Richmond or Washington, D.C. -- to hold charters back, more poor children will pay a price."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/26/AR2009092602002.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 5, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31: Just to correct the following comment: "In Colorado, teachers pay approx. 50% into their pensions."

Senate Bill 11-074 – PERA contributions

The bill would allow school boards to lower the percentage of payroll they contribute to employee pensions – and raise the amount from their paychecks that employees have to contribute. Under current state law, local government employers contribute 10.15 percent of payroll while workers pay 8 percent of salary. The bill would allow employers to lower their contribution by up to 2.5 percent and raise the employee contribution by a like amount.

Thus you can see that Colorado teachers pay 8% of their salary into their pension and with the possible change in legislation that amount may be raised to approximately 10%. No teacher could pay 50% into a pension and have enough left to live on. If you weren't referring to 50% of salary, then your statement was misleading.

Posted by: musiclady | March 5, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

musiclady1,

Thank you for the clarification. I didn't mean to be misleading - the legislation you cite demonstrates that the employee will be matching what the district (taxpayers) pay in, thus it is a 50-50 contribution, not 50%.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 5, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, here is the source for the currently cited 'fact' that states with collective bargaining fare better educationally (of which you complain you are unaware):
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/states/USCHARTsat.html

As the author of the comparison points out, it's based on 1999 statistics. He's unsettled that his work has become embroiled in the debate (he has much more subtle points to make), but I for one would love to see him update it.

For those who don't have time to open links, here's how Deborah Meier summed it up:
"Who can resist this argument? Only five states do not currently allow collective bargaining for educators.
 Those states and their SAT/ACT rankings are as follows:
South Carolina: 50
North Carolina: 49
Georgia: 48
Texas: 47
Virginia: 44"

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/?intc=thed

Wisconsin and Minnesota tied for number 2, behind Iowa. Fellow citizens, are we sure we want to let them "blow up" our schools of education, and put our teachers in their place?

If you are invested in the privately funded (and heavily lobbied) effort to cut out a bigger share of the public revenue for private contractors, please stand back a minute and think about what we could lose. The wealth and effort of generations is well invested in those bedrock institutions of public education across the midwest. The land ordinance of 1785 established the first funding base for public education, and its author (Thomas Jefferson) wove education into the first fabric of the nation. Many schools are still located on section 16 of the original survey of the continent.

Who is injecting all this sanctimonious venom against teachers and public workers into our public discourse? Their lobbyists and publicists claims that teachers have betrayed the public trust. I'm a teacher, and that's a lie. The fake accountability products they vend are toxic smoke and mirrors, and are only being used to weaken and destroy the public schools.

The Texas Miracle and Renaissance 2010 left devastation behind them. The Potemkin showpiece charters demonstrate no accumulated progress. These are the same people who blew up Wall Street.

Here is the real front line of this struggle:
http://www.gppf.org/article.asp?RT=5&p=pub/Education/Choice/MWonline100713.htm

Go ahead, Jay, read it. It complains that Georgia will only pay $3500 per public school student emrolled in your Washington-Post-owned for-profit Kaplan Virtual Academies. Don't worry, though. In December, the state caved to your lobbyists and raised the payment to $5800 per student. Your retirement is secure, and you can continue your work to destroy the "unfair competition" of brick-and-mortar schools and flesh-and-blood teachers.

Posted by: mport84 | March 6, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

@mport84: I posted this comment over on Valerie's blog in response to frankb1 comments about unions.

@frankb1: To provide some balance to your discussion, may I offer a few thoughts from a teacher in a right to work state.

We have a very limited tenure policy. It is incredibly easy to fire a teacher if the administrator is willing to follow-through with the documentation. I have personally witnessed four non-tenured teachers in my school lose their job because the principal needed to hire a new football coach, his wife, and a couple of assistants. I've also witnessed tenured teachers who were quietly forced out of their positions for reasons that had nothing to do with their job performance.

Basically, a teacher in a right to work state has very limited rights and no one to turn to for help. We do have two teacher organizations but their influence is purposely limited by our legislators. The links below are examples of what can happen to teachers in a right to work state:

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/whistle-blowing-teachers-targeted-812369.html

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/11/13/facebook-flap-in-barrow-raises-troubling-fairness-issues/

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/georgia-breaks-pledge-to-155363.html

Posted by: teachermom3 | March 6, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Further thoughts about a right to work state:

Georgia does have a fair salary scale and a strong teacher retirement system. My complaints have nothing to do with my pay and everything to do with the damage to our students.

Our current fiscal crisis has highlighted several flaws in right-to-work system that gives elected officials the power to make education decisions without input from its teaching force. Before the Republican party took over in my state, the system worked fairly well. However, the Republicans have their own agenda and a mindset that says teachers are the problem and do not deserve input. They'll politely listen but that is all.

Here's just a few examples of what is going on in my state:

Almost every district in GA experienced furlough days this past year (up to 14 days). Next year, a district is looking at cutting 37 days from the school calendar and extending the school day by 2 hours. A few districts had to resort to 4 day school weeks. Class size mandates were lifted through 2015. Music, art, and PE were slashed to the bone. Entire high school vocational programs were eliminated.

Of course, just to make sure that collective bargaining never taints the fine state of GA, we have a legislator last week introduce HB 416 - a bill prohibiting collective bargaining ( which is already prohibited in Georgia).

My point? There needs to be a balance...just like in any healthy democracy. There's a reason the "checks and balances" system works so well.

Posted by: teachermom3 | March 6, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

mport84,

With all due respect, why are defenders of the teacher's union relying on 1999 stats? This is the 21st Century. Using outdated, irrelevant stats to try and support the position that unionized public education produces better results, simply doesn't cut it. As I said before, please look at California which is unionized, bankrupt, and ranks in the bottom 3rd.

Thomas Jefferson never discussed "collective bargaining". Yes, he valued education. I think we all do. When unions were first formed, we lacked labor and EO laws. Civil servants of any profession are entitled to due process and arbitration if they feel they have been fired or reprimanded unfairly. No other profession, that I know of, has tenure after 3 years of employment.

In my district, we had a tenured music teacher who slammed kids' hands in the piano and knocked them out of their chairs. The district attempted to fire her. The first decision came back that she could be suspended for 6 months - WITH PAY. The district appealed. The decision was revised to a year suspension, WITH PAY. On final appeal, the district was able to get her suspended for a year without pay. The entire ordeal cost taxpayers over $300,000 in legal fees. Imho, that is criminal thuggery on the part of the union.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, Thomas Jefferson might not have had collective bargaining, but all those union states did, and their laws were in place in 1999. Public unions made better scools ten years ago, and they do now. You have no evidence of any kind that attacking teachers or weakening public unions improves schools, but you argue disrespectfully to teachers, anyway.

What we should be discussing is preserving America's public schools, which represent the accumulated heritage and wealth of generations.

We aren't defending just the teachers unions, obviously. We're defending teachers everywhere, and the public schools we work in. Teachermom3 isn't a union, and she isn't in a union state, but she, too, is being attacked; you should listen to her.

Posted by: mport84 | March 6, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

mport84,

Exactly where did I "attack" teachermom3? I didn't. My post was in reply to yours and I never mentioned teachermom3. However, thank you for demonstrating what Republican majorities are up against when trying to negotiate with the union mentality. It is especially sad for the children and taxpayers in states where the teacher's union claims moral superiority and righteous indignation instead of working with those who pay your salaries towards a solution that will not only keep you employed, but retain all of the resources such as art and music, subjects I feel are vital to a well rounded education.

I have long been a private supporter of the arts and music in our schools in a union state. Every year, we're threatened that we must pass the school tax increase because "it's for the children!" In 15 years, our school budget has ballooned from $25M to 70+M, with no increase in students. My property taxes have gone from $2,300 to a hair under $9,000. 2/3 of that is school tax. When the union teacher contract expires, they march around in black union t-shirts and jeans and bolt out the door the second contract hours are up. One year, we hired Dr. Joseph Renzulli at the cost of $5,000 paid by SEPTA to address parents and teachers. In the middle of his presentation, all of the teachers got up and walked out. Whether I agree with Renzulli's educational philosophy or not is irrelevant. The teacher's mass evacuation was embarrassing.

In another sad example of union thuggery, it took over a year negotiating with the teacher's union just to get the teacher's to agree to post homework assignments to the district's online system.

Not a single state in the country can boast a high school graduation rate in the 90% range - union or non-union.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/graduation-rates-by-state-and-race/

NY, union state, graduates 70%. That's pathetic.

False claims of unions radically increasing student achievement are strawmen. Collective Bargaining is not a Constitutional right. And last time I checked, the U.S.A. is a Federal Republic, not a democracy. Our Founders specifically constructed our founding documents in such manner as to prevent the corruption of democracies and mob rule from occurring here.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31--not all unions behave in the manner that your local one does. I work in the largest district in MD (16th largest in the US) and our union undertook interest based bargaining. Bargaining between the union and the elected BOE is much more collaborative and not adversarial. They have been able to enact a comprehensive evaluation system (http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/par/) that has been nationally recognized as well as containing the cost of benefits. In fact, our benefit packages, while similar to those of the other county employees, cost significantly less than those of the other county unions. This is because, rather than demanding more money, we understand the current budget situation and in an effort to not take funds that could do things like maintain or reduce class size, we look for ways to save money without reducing our benefits.

Those of us who have to work with other people--whether family members, fellow employees or volunteers--often find that we can get more done by sitting down in a collaborative spirit rather than simply making demands and refusing to budge. Interest based bargaining is a culture change and it took several years for this change to take effect. As a result, it was worth the effort and has served management, teachers and students well.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

musiclady,

I LIKE the idea of interest based bargaining. Your state is lucky to have reached this arrangement. To me, reasonable efforts to contain cost, elevate teacher morale and improve the educational environment, actually DO directly benefit the students. I also endorse merit pay. Great work should be rewarded. Is that offered in MD?

Unfortunately, Randi Weingarten, the subject of this article, does not endorse such reasonable compromise. It was under her leadership in NYS that our teachers routinely embraced their stubborn positions.

Charter schools like KIPP and others, are mostly non-union. With teachers putting in the extra-long hours and providing other student perks at schools like KIPP without union regulation makes the union schools look cheap and stingy in comparison. Private schools are non-union. While I realize private schools do not have to deal with discipline and special needs issues the way public schools do, they tend to have a higher graduation rate than public schools. I babysit a little girl whose Mom is a union heavy equipment operator for NYC. (we don't discuss politics ;-)) But she was actually shocked to discover that the teachers in the parochial school she sends her daughter to, are non-union.

In fact, if I had my druthers, all education in the U.S. would be privatized. But I doubt that will happen in my lifetime.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31--The interest based bargaining occurs on the district level, not the state level. The state teachers' association, which is an affiliate of the NEA, still works collaboratively with the legislature. AFT operates differently than NEA from what I've observed. AFT tends to represent large urban districts whereas NEA represents the others. Technically the NEA isn't a union, but rather a professional association--better compared to organizations like the American Medical Assoc. or the American Bar Assoc. NEA cannot bargain for us. Bargaining is only done on the local level--not on the state or national level. Pension decisions are in the hands of the MD State legislature. Just like other legislation, we can affect the outcome most by staging letter and email campaigns like other regular people do when they are are concerned about any particular legislation being considered. It troubles me to see the "union" being painted with such a broad brush. There are as many different forms of the union as there are individual school districts. Sadly, as is often the case, we are all being branded by what the worst ones do. Just like saying that all teachers act like the one you described above ,all priests are child abusers or all investment bankers are cheats is a gross generalization which we know only applies to a few. But this rhetoric seems to fit the ideology of those who repeat it and sadly, we must now devote effort to trying to show the other side of the story. This is effort that we would prefer to put toward our ever increasing workload but our ability to continue doing our job requires it.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Musiclady,

It is sad that all teachers unions are being branded by what the worst ones, such as the AFT, do. Obviously, not ALL teachers are bad, but also obviously, not ALL teachers are Democrats. The AFT and the NEA have politicized public education by forking over 99% of its political contributions to the Democratic Party.

Wisconsin has shown us how the union paid for Democrat representatives act - they flee to another state and obstruct negotiations! This is reprehensible! "Doctors" issuing phony sick notes to WI teachers picketing the Capitol .... again, reprehensible!

There are a number of teachers who stand with the Tea Partiers to oppose this disgraceful behavior. But they are a minority and they are never given media coverage by anyone other than FOX.

Until such time as the AFT and the NEA contribute 50-50 to the political parties in this country, they are going to be under the gun. (and I mean that figuratively, not literally)

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31--There is actually a process by which the NEA and their affiliates choose the candidates they support. Some unions use questionnaires, others use interviews etc.--to see where the various candidates stand on educational issues which include issues regarding the funding of education. They choose to endorse those candidates whose answers show greater support for their goals in terms of education policy. We have had several republican local legislators--county council, state senators etc.--that have been endorsed by our state or local union affiliates because those candidates either showed through their questionnaires or, in the case of incumbents, their actions regarding support of public education.

From what I've seen in national news interviews and publications, the TEA Party candidates are about cutting funding and many talk about privatization of public schools. That's fine if that is their belief. They are entitled to it and they are entitled to support candidates who subscribe to their way of thinking. Why would the NEA or any other teachers' group want to support candidates whose beliefs are the opposite of their own? Just like groups such as the Chamber of Commerce tend to support Republican candidates because those candidates tend to support policies that they see as more business friendly, education advocacy and teacher groups support candidates who subscribe to policies they see as public education friendly. It's really just that simple.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Something else I neglected to say about the endorsement process--Endorsements are voted on by members. At the local level, they are voted on by the school local affiliate representatives. There have been times where we endorse no one for certain offices because there were a number of candidates that we felt were qualified. There have been times where endorsements are put on hold because we can't agree.

Likewise, at the state level, each local affiliate votes for representatives to represent them at the state level. This occurs at the national level as well. We vote for members of our local affiliate to represent us at the national level and they vote on the candidates they wish to endorse based on feedback from their members.

Think of it like voting for delegates who attend the Republican or Democratic National Conventions to vote for presidential candidates. We typically vote for delegates who will vote for the candidate we want. The same process is used in the NEA. Would you expect 50% of your delegates to vote for a candidate that is the opposite of the one you want to win?

I might also add that the union "thugs" (so many people love to use that term) that are our officers are just regular teachers like the rest of us. Our current president is a high school English Teacher who is on leave from his teaching duties for his 3 year term. He is paid his teachers' salary but it is funded by union dues. When his term is up, he will go back to the classroom. These aren't some fat cats that are getting rich by strong-arming people. They are fellow teachers who are selected by the membership to represent us. Unfortunately people see what they want to see.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why would the NEA or any other teachers' group want to support candidates whose beliefs are the opposite of their own?"

Those who identify with the Tea Party, do not necessarily want to cut spending on education - but they do want to get it under control and stabilize the runaway tax and spend-fest that that Dems have endorsed. Believe it or not, we DO want the money to be spent on educating the children - not on extravagant conferences, Superintendent salaries which are higher than the President of the United States and promotion of a left-wing, anti-American agenda. With the NEA endorsing Saul Alinsky and the UN teaching that we need to "combat heterosexuality and gender identity", you've got a whole bunch of taxpayers and parents in this country saying, "No" to the NEA and AFT agenda to indoctrinate students.

Why do you think homeschooling numbers have skyrocketed?

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=85408

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

The NEA and AFT agenda to indoctrinate students? I don't know if you are aware of this, but teachers don't get to choose what and how they teach. They are give curricula that they are required to use. Some of the curricula is even scripted! Curricula is selected by the democratically elected school board with parent input. My district actually has meetings for parents to review the curricula. We understand that the taxpayers (which actually include us, by the way) are the employers and just like we choose representatives to make union endorsements, the voters elect school board members who best represent their goals for the local public school system. The NEA at the national level has little impact, if any, impact on what happens in local classrooms.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

musiclady,

The National Councils on Mathematics and Social Studies, for example, are most decidedly influenced by NEA and AFT "recommendations" regarding the "standards" they generate. Those "standards" are then sent to State Depts. of Ed, which develop grade level standards which are to be met by state public school districts. While it is true that Boards of Education, at least in NYS, are "autonomous" when it comes to deciding curriculum (ie: what precise courses will be offered within a given school to meet State standards), the Board does NOT have to listen to parental/taxpayer input when it comes to those decisions. I can tell you this with tremendous confidence as I filed a Commissioner's Appeal in which I attempted to get a particular program placed on the ballot as a proposition for the voters to decide, and was denied. The entire system, as it stands from top to bottom, is controlled by Progressives. I will tell you with complete honesty, that when my children were in the system, I was ignorant as to national political ideological differences. I was not involved in politics, other than at my local Village level where the "parties" were neither Dem nor Repub. Back then when I would question a policy or the status quo, I couldn't understand why administrators and the Board and I saw things so completely differently and why they would attack and malign me for my opinion. But now I do. And what Democrats need to understand is that Republicans WANT excellence. We WANT ALL of the kids to graduate from our public schools with a solid academic foundation. We are willing to fund our public schools to achieve these desired results - WITHIN REASON. When we see teachers being laid off, class sizes increasing, electives being cut and more violence and drugs in our schools while paying higher and higher property taxes, we're not happy. We have entertained educational "flavors of the week" since the 70's, one fad after another, from whole language and enrichment clusters to "talking" about math, self-esteem programs, character education, bully-awareness, Johnny has Two Mommies, on and on and on. And while there are SOME school boards who welcome different opinions, the vast majority do not. The vast majority consist of PTA mommies and local attorneys looking to add something to their resume'.

I do blame the general electorate for not being involved enough in school board elections. In my part of the country, school board trustees are volunteers. On average, only about 20% of registered voters turn out for the annual budget/board vote. And that's a shame. Since the rise of the Tea Party, I do see more taxpayers (senior citizens and folks without children) getting involved in the budget process.

Back in the 90's, our budget process used to be open and welcoming. Shared Decision Making was new and the law was enforced. All of that changed around 2003 with a new Superintendent and as NYS stopped checking on SDM.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I ran out of characters ....

Let me just add that Shared Decision Making became a major problem because the teachers complained they weren't being compensated for the time they spent in the SDM meetings. Finding teachers willing to participate usually fell on the shoulders of the new, un-tenured teachers who would be told what they should say by the union President. Unfortunately, what was originally a very good idea (and I served on the very first site-based team in my district) evolved into a despised unfunded "mandate" which operated in relative secrecy and was only trotted out by the Board or administrators to support controversial decisions which resulted in public disapproval.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 8:52 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31 wrote: We have entertained educational "flavors of the week" since the 70's, one fad after another, from whole language and enrichment clusters to "talking" about math, self-esteem programs, character education, bully-awareness, Johnny has Two Mommies, on and on and on.
_______________________
Boy do I hear you there! Funny thing about that is those of us who have lived through what you describe are often criticized as dead weight who are resistant to change. I've taught 35 years and I've lived through all of it. For the last few years I've been seeing some of the same "flavors of the week" reappear only to be given new names. When someone with my years of experience expresses concern because of already having tried (insert fad here), we are criticized. Honestly this is one reason I think that some of the reformers want to get rid of experienced teachers. It's not that we are against change--we are against doing something that we have seen fail in the past--just for the sake of change. This is one reason it is so important to have staff with all levels of experience so as not to lose that institutional memory.

It's interesting for me to read how your district operates. They are all so different. We have county districts --some of which are quite large--mine having 200 schools, 12,000 teachers and over 150,000 students. Our population is extremely diverse in terms of socio-economic status and race/culture. Obviously we have a different way of doing things. Also, even parents who hold a minority point of view, still have significant numbers (just because of the sheer size of things) which enable their input to be heard.

Posted by: musiclady | March 6, 2011 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Musiclady,

You are the kind of teacher who I would defend to the end of days. The truly great teachers my children (and I had), were all 25 yr+ teachers. Old school. Knew their subjects cold, knew how to explain something in different ways so that the kid who was a visual learner got it, as well as the kid who was an auditory learner. Dedicated teachers who made teaching a lifelong career because - it's what they do. These teachers EARN respect, they don't demand it out of hand.

My all time favorite teacher of my children was a science teacher, 35 yrs at the same school. He wore a crew-cut, t-shirts & jeans and rode a Harley and at the beginning of the year, he would distribute a contract to the students which had to be signed by their parents. My son was white-knuckled the first month in his class. But he was the ONLY teacher who ever sent home an explanation as to how the field trip the kids were going on was tied to the curriculum. I wrote him back a note thanking him for that and told him as much. Wanna know what he wrote back? "You're the ONLY parent who has ever thanked me for doing so."

You are absolutely correct about the "repackaging" of old fads with new labels. It's a racket. Big money to be made. Mr. Mathews knows all about it, right Jay? ;-)

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 6, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

mport84 posted this nonsense I see repeated by many union lovers. It's a completely manipulated piece of nonsense:

"Who can resist this argument? Only five states do not currently allow collective bargaining for educators.
 Those states and their SAT/ACT rankings are as follows:
South Carolina: 50
North Carolina: 49
Georgia: 48
Texas: 47
Virginia: 44

Wisconsin was number 2, etc...."

In Wisconsin, supposed number 2, only 5% of graduates take the SAT!! (3,192 students) http://dpi.state.wi.us/eis/pdf/dpinr2009_19.pdf

Second, Virginia's students scored above average on the reading and writing sections of the SAT!
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2010/sep/14/vsat14-ar-503971/

This list is total nonsense.

Fairfax County schools, without collective bargaining, with a diverse student population, is among the top districts in the nation.

Collective bargaining has resulted in the insanity of defined benefit pensions on the public dime- this is a Wall Street issue. The issue is that defined benefit pensions are a claim of guaranteed risk-free results for money management- something that simply does not exist, but many Wall Street liars have tried to sell it. Look at the safety of corporate bonds- the bonds of General Motors, held by the Indiana state employee pension fund, we're declared as having no claim, so the company could be handed over to a private union, the UAW. Who makes up the difference in the pension promises? Buying into a pyramid scheme is dangerous!

The ability of the government to modify these contracts speaks to the necessity of having this money given to you in a personally controlled account as you earn it. You don't really have to manage it, but you need to have it in your name, so no one can take it way from you. No Wall Street guy takes his pay in an account he doesn't control...

Posted by: staticvars | March 6, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Staticvars, only 5% of Wisconsin students take the SAT because the others take the ACT. That's why this analysis includes scores for both tests: see, it says so, tight there? SAT/ACT? So, what answer do you have to the actual, incontrivertible fact that non-union states have the worset education outcomes in the country?

You post nonsense like that to launch an attack my intellectual honesty, but instead you expose again your own agenda-driven manipulation. This is a line of bull you are spouting about Wall Street.

You "free-market education" lovers are stooges for hidden venture capitalists. Wall Street is coming for our neighborhood schools, and they need to destroy the brick and mortar and flesh and blood truth of what we do there, so they can bill the taxpayers for unregulated profit-gouging schemes, instead.

"Entitlement" to a public education and a living wage with medical and retirement benefits are principles for public governance, not private profit. Get your slimy "risk-management" rules off me.

They bought and sold our derivatized future, which was not theirs to buy or sell. These are things we have reserved from their game.

Wall Street and it's enablers like Fox News and the Washington Post, and this bevy of dishonest commentators, want to make up new rules, where there's no barrier to their profit gouging.

Working people will stand and fight. We have nothing else left that they haven't destroyed in their greed.

Posted by: mport84 | March 7, 2011 6:16 AM | Report abuse

Staticvars--Pension plans are set at the state level by the state legislature. They are not part of the collective bargaining agreement which is done at the local level. At least that's how it works in MD. I have a collected bargaining agreement that is quite lengthy and it contains no language about my MD State Pension plan. The MD legislature is getting ready to make changes to our pension plan and there is nothing our union can do about it other than publicly express our displeasure or write our legislators like any other citizen who is unhappy with a proposed piece of legislation. Since you want to mention Fairfax, VA being part of a right to work state--you do know that they enjoy a defined benefit pension plan and from what I understand, it's better than MD's. You might also be surprised that most of our negotiated agreement deals with working conditions--which allow us to do our jobs more effectively which will ultimately benefit our students.

Posted by: musiclady | March 7, 2011 7:33 AM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that both mport84 and musiclady clearly miss the thrust of staticvars POINT - that when you rely on the "collective" to invest your pension fund in investments that took a nose-dive in the market, you have abrogated your individual responsibility for your investment. To depersonalize this away from teachers, please look at the example of the MTA in NY:

http://www.nytorch.com/?p=1035

So how do the Dems in NY deal with the almost $400M MTA deficit? They allow the MTA to increase fares, cut routes for the elderly and impose an MTA payroll tax - ON SCHOOL DISTRICTS and businesses!!! See how the union helps the general public and taxpayers?

This insanity must end and it must end now.

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 7, 2011 7:57 AM | Report abuse

No--we didn't miss the thrust of staticvars' point. We just don't agree with it. The point that I was making is that having a defined benefit vs. a defined contribution pension plan has nothing to do with collective bargaining in many, if not most places. They are separate issues. I would think the fact that right to work states offer defined benefit pensions would be an indicator that collective bargaining doesn't determine what type of pension is offered.

Posted by: musiclady | March 7, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line, public unions cannot continue to suck the public dry for their pensions:

http://www.planbeconomics.com/2010/12/07/the-new-york-state-pension-bomb/

Posted by: lisamc31 | March 7, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

They work 9.5 hours a day? I thought the normal work day was 8 hours. Is Kipp crazy?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 7, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31,

How much do you make a year?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 7, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

jlp19,

None of your damn business - neither my husband nor I depend on the taxpayers to write our checks.


Posted by: lisamc31 | March 7, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

jlp19,

None of your damn business - neither my husband nor I depend on the taxpayers to write our checks.


Posted by: lisamc31 | March 7, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

lisamc31,

In other words, you make a lot of money!

So how much do you pay your workers?

I think since you are questioning teachers, you should be questioned also!

Sorry, I am not going to let you bully me.

Posted by: jlp19 | March 8, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

lisamc31m,

You are wealthy, aren't you?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 8, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

lisamc31,

You know what Jesus says about the rich getting into heaven, don't you?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 8, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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