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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Truth Slips Out

I missed this earlier this week, but Mike Petrilli really wrote a real humdinger:
After its big referendum victory last week, Ohio teachers union vice president Bill Leibensperger said “There has always been room to talk. That’s what collective bargaining is about. You bring adults around a table to talk about serious issues.” He voiced an argument made by union supporters through the fight over Senate Bill 5 (and the similar battle in Wisconsin over public sector union rights): All employees want is the right to bargain; they are more than willing to make concessions during these difficult times.
And to be sure, you can find examples of unions—of police, firefighters, even teachers—
who have agreed to freeze wages or reduce benefits in order to protect the quality of services or keep colleagues from being laid off
. But they are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Consider the survey of big-city school district leaders published by the National Council on Teacher Quality a few weeks ago. When asked how they “reduced their budget gaps” over the past two years, fewer than half had eliminated or limited cost of living raises for teachers, only 30 percent cut automatic step increases, and just 13 percent trimmed benefits. In other words, in the midst of the Great Recession and historic unemployment, teachers in the vast majority of urban districts continued to get raises and generous healthcare and retirement benefits. So what exactly are their unions conceding? In fact, more districts cut the number of working days for teachers than addressed the spiraling cost of health benefits. Whose interests are we putting first? [emphasis mine]
See, we are in a huge recession. And even though the 1% are taking more of the money, and paying less in taxes, and even though sane economists believe and history shows that we should be growing ourselves out of this by increasing government spending...

Petrilli says the only solution is to cut public worker pay and benefits. Heaven forbid we ever mention this:

Yes, the "generous" benefits like going to the dentist and enjoying a modest retirement can't possibly be allowed for the people who teach our children and run into burning buildings and strap on kevlar vests every day. How will we ever race to the bottom if we allow such luxuries?

So, yes, Mike, by all means - let's take over the school boards with the expressed intent of destroying the unions that allow teachers and cops to enjoy outrageous five-figure salaries and prescription plans. That would be far, far better than taxing the insanely rich people who fund your salary, wouldn't it?

And, yes, let's stock the BOEs with lots of folks who are not interested in paying decent middle class wages so we can attract competent people to the teaching profession. Let's instead fill them with tea partyin' wahoos who will demoralize educators to the point that no one with any talent will sign on for the job. Way to build a modern workforce AND put the needs of children first, Mike!

I'll give this court jester to the plutocracy credit for one thing, though:
Curbing collective bargain rights, promoting mayoral control, creating an alternative charter school system—all of these are efforts to deal with the fact of union-dominated school boards. They are still worth pursuing, in my view.
At least he's honest about why he wants charter schools: it's all about screwing teachers out of decent pay. Every once in a while, these guys slip, and we see what they are really all about.

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