I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Greedy, Overpaid NJ Teachers

Remember when Chris Christie used to run up and down New Jersey complaining about "... the teachers union demanding raises at 4 to 5 times the rate of inflation..."? Remember when I was one of the few places you could go to regularly find out this was absolutely ridiculous? Remember when I repeatedly wrote that the notion of "overpaid teachers" with "gold-plated benefits" was transparently idiotic?

Good times...

So, how is the allegedly greedy, overpaid teacher in New Jersey faring these days? Well, the National Education Association has put out its annual report on state-level school finances, including information about teacher salaries. Go to page 20 to the "PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN AVERAGE SALARIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS 2001–02 TO 2011–12 (CONSTANT $)," which is the inflation-adjusted change in each state's average teacher salary. New Jersey ranks #22 in this change:
22. NEW JERSEY –0.5 *
New Jersey's average teacher salary is less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was back in 2001.

Now in all fairness, that doesn't mean that the same teacher in 2001 is making less today than back then: teachers move up their salary guides and earn more each year. Older teachers retire at the "top of the guide" and are replaced by younger teachers starting out at the bottom. But the decrease in average pay suggests that the lifetime earnings of a teacher in New Jersey have decreased from a decade ago.

Worse, we're not even counting the changes in pensions and benefits that have eroded teacher pay since Christie took office. Breaking his explicit promise to teachers, Christie brokered a deal with Democratic turncoats that increased pension contributions immediately to 6.5% of salary, and will grow to 7.5% by 2018. The deal also eliminated COLAs, so the value of the pension is shrinking while the teacher contribution grows.

The deal also saw teachers pay more for their health care: up to 35% of the cost of the premium, which translates into thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses for the same (or worse) level of coverage.

The upshot? New Jersey's teachers have taken a huge hit on inflation-adjusted take-home pay over the last decade. No one can ever accuse us of not "sharing in the sacrifice." But mark my words: when Chris Christie's fiscal Ponzi scheme comes crashing down and he's forced to find billions more each year to meet his pension obligations, he will point the finger at teachers first.

That is, unless this state wakes up, realizes this man is an utter fraud, and boots him out of office before he can make his mess even worse. Let's hope we can make that happen within the next nine months; if we don't, it's going to get even uglier around here.

And it's pretty damn ugly right now.


giuseppe said...

Sadly and it makes me sick, the bully is very popular: TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — It’s the highest job approval Governor Chris Christie has ever had. At 74 percent, it’s the highest of any New Jersey Governor in the 17 years that Quinnipiac has been polling the state, and the highest of any Governor in the seven states that Quinnipiac polls now.
Four more years of this terrible man. I will vote against him but it's not looking good.

Teacher Mom said...

My pay is actually 2k less than it was last year. not entirely sure how that happened, but it's a fact according to my W2 I brought home 2 k less than the year before and with the health benefit spike this coming year I'll be down another 8%. Pretty soon I'll have to switch careers just to support my family.

Barbara Definitely has my vote !!

Mrs. King's music students said...

My pay has gone down literally as I've moved from Central Jersey to South Jersey school districts. In addition, music teachers are routinely let go 1 day short of tenure for 'budget cuts', and that also keeps my paycheck low regardless of my big ol masters degree from a Princeton college, my Supervisory Certificate from the state of NJ and my Army veteran status. Last year, I spent $2500.00 of my own money on instruments and materials my students needed just 'to touch the floor' of the standards for Performing Arts. At the same time, my mortgage went up, I still owe $125,00 on a semi-detached thats assessed for $75,000 and the guy that owns the other half is boarding his immigrant laborers there-making me responsible for thousands in
extermination fees. To add insult to injury here, I was stopped on the street one day by a lady from Robbinsville who let me know that she was APPALLED that public school teachers like me could get tenure while SHE was making sacrifices. Then she turned to my walking partner and said she'd put the kibosh on the purchase of a second airplane by her husband. (True story, stg!).

I think the real travesty here is that Christie and his intellectually lazy adherents are being allowed to set the parameters for all discussions about inner city schools. The result is nitpicking the actual workerbees over jobs they would never do themselves, and steering voters away from other items that might interest them such as the shoot out at WWHS on Valentines Day that put all nearby elem. and middle schools on lockdown and was not reported in any firm of media inside or outside of Camden.

Our first mission has to be re-setting the parameters for discussion to create an informed public.

giuseppe said...

Mrs. King is correct on all points. Teachers need a radio station comparable to the power and clout of NJ 101.5 which is an anti-teacher, anti-union propaganda mill that has been spewing its toxic sludge for a couple decades.

Rod viquez said...

The public doesn't give a rat's ass about teachers. Maybe because we still do everything and more than we ever did. Time to move to a low housing cost state.