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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rhee LOVES Layoffs

Over at the studentfirst.org, St. Rhee is using the millions of dollars she's collected from billionaires to tug at our heartstrings:

First of all, I want to be clear that I am not criticizing any of the teachers in this video. They probably all deserve to be on the job, and students are probably missing out because they have been laid off.

Which begs the question: WHY have they been laid off? Well...
CARSON CITY -- The Clark County School District might be able to avoid mass teacher layoffs, even with the 6.9 percent reduction in state support that came out of the Legislature's special session on Sunday, an administrator said.
Joyce Haldeman, the district's associate superintendent of government relations, could not provide figures on potential teacher layoffs but said the number would not be many if teachers union officials would agree to salary reductions of 2 percent to 4 percent.
"We have talked about the need for a 'shared sacrifice,'" Haldeman said. "We could save many jobs if they do that."
The 6.9 percent state funding reduction to education agreed on by Gov. Jim Gibbons and the Legislature represents a loss of $117 million to the K-12 system and a loss of $46 million to higher education. The Clark County School District expects to receive about $90 million less in state funding through June 30, 2011. [emphasis mine]
So Nevada cut way back on school aid, and now the teachers have a choice: cuts in pay, or layoffs. Of course, if you lay off senior teachers - the ones who make MORE money, and who stayed in the profession under that implied agreement for years - you would have to lay off fewer teachers.

I wonder how many of these newer teachers are going to stay in the field when they find out that they can be RIF'd when they start making larger salaries. I wonder if the teaching corps will be any better or worse when young people see that the stability and small but steady rises in pay for teachers are eliminated. This is, of course, the question Rhee never wants to ask while she pushes for these "reforms."

But there's an even more important question Rhee never, ever asks: why are we laying off so many teachers? You would think an organization named "Students First" would be appalled at the numbers of layoffs happening in our schools around the country. Why does Rhee sit silently?

Maybe it's because her backers don't want to point out an ugly truth: we have plenty of money to keep all of our teachers and hire more - IF we stop giving the wealthy huge tax breaks.

Let's take a look at Nevada:

Yikes! Look at how small the percentage of income paid in taxes is for the top 1% compared with the bottom 20%. No wonder Nevada is in the "Terrible Ten" of the most regressively taxed states according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Imagine if, instead of advocating for policies that increase instability and decrease pay for teachers, Rhee instead called for the top 1% of taxpayers in Nevada to pay the same effective rate as the bottom 20%.

That truly would be putting "students first."

ADDING: Nevada's leaders are beginning to grow up.

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