The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Archive for June 2012

Absurdity Du Jour

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After years of economy-strangling regulations, absurdly high tax rates, and public unions’ taxpayer-funded benefits, the policies of the far left have killed the golden goose in California.

The state is broke.

Now elected officials are scrambling to solve a self-inflicted crisis.

One school district in Sacramento must cut $43 million from their budget so they face the unfortunate task of laying off teachers. You would think the best teachers would be kept. However, one of the casualties of this school district’s round of layoffs was Sacramento Teacher-of-the-Year Michelle Apperson.

The Sacramento Teacher-of-the-Year got fired?

Yep. State law mandates that layoffs be dictated by union seniority. She is a victim of her own union’s requirements. She wasn’t “senior” enough regardless of her qualifications or merits. You don’t have to be a good teacher to keep your job you just have to “hang around’ long enough to gain Tenure.

About 80% of all public school teachers have tenure. That’s why teachers who drink alcohol before class, or even during class; teachers who deal drugs; teachers who can’t read or do basic math (all real examples by the way) can’t be fired while Teachers-of-the-year can.

Estimates of the number of incompetent teachers range from a low of 5% to as many as 18% of the 2.6 million total, or between 135,000 and 468,000 bad teachers. All states and the District of Columbia have tenure laws that were negotiated by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Unions insist these laws are in place to protect good teachers by giving them due process rights. Critics claim tenure and the unions are the problem.

The evidence across the country seems to back the critics.

A Kansas state representative in an interview with Investors Business Daily said, “Tenure is a very hot issue. If a legislator brings it up, it’s a battle royal. Unless you’re molesting children or robbing banks, you can’t be fired.” She adds that allowing poor teachers to remain in the classroom means more remedial teachers will be needed, which puts more dues money in union coffers. “The unions want as many teachers as possible, making as much money as possible. Their mission is teachers, not children.”

Children don’t pay union dues.

New York state Assemblywoman Debra Mazzarelli told Investors Business Daily: “Our tenure laws protect ineffective and unmotivated teachers and administrators. Removing a tenured employee from his or her position is so difficult, expensive and time-consuming that, for all intents, it is impossible.”

Public unions and Big Government resist any and all free market reforms to education because it would mean the end of their monopoly and their Big Money.

I do not wish to paint ALL union members with the same broad brush, but too many of the good ones stand silent about the corrupt practices of their leadership. I understand their resistance to speaking up. A quick review of unions and how they treat whistle blowers on their own leadership will make their hesitance to say anything publicly very clear, but how is not speaking out about something obviously wrong any different than actual endorsement?

Perhaps the renewed public outcry being heard here and there in the media and public forums will embolden honest union members to help clean up their professions and clean out the bad eggs who ruin it for everyone.