* dENSA SPOKANE
Like MENSA, Only Thicker

The True Cost of Public Education

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Education Bailout?

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers called for a bailout of the U.S. education system in the Wall Street Journal on May 20th.  The following are letters to the W.S.J. Editor regarding her opinion:

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, claims that “Years of budget cuts in the vast majority of school districts already have taken their toll” (“Public Schools Need a Bailout,” op-ed, May 20).

Really? Not in my local school district, where years of overspending plunged the district into a financial crisis that is just now forcing long-overdue cuts.

Does every teacher need a teacher’s aide? Does the superintendent need a 17-person staff, free cars and a $250,000-plus salary to oversee three schools and 2,600 students? Is the school board president supposed to consult with union leaders and defer all decisions to self-interested administrators?

Our school board is dominated by former teachers, vendors to the district and attorneys. Two recently elected objectors to the status quo are routinely slandered or ignored. The only solution seriously considered by the board majority was a massive tax hike referendum in the midst of a recession and after years of tax levy and rate increases. It failed by a 3-to-1 margin.

Ms. Weingarten continues her disingenuous and inaccurate portrayal of teachers unions as the underdogs, the victims of the Neanderthal amateurs on the school boards, and the heroes of education grappling with chronic underfunding.

But the teachers unions are not the victims here and do not deserve to be bailed out by taxpayers any more than the United Auto Workers union deserved a rescue from its excess and failure.

The powerful teachers unions run the education show. They are more than partly responsible for the mess. When Ms. Weingarten and company stop their indefensible defense of a status quo they helped create, maybe we will have the real reform she claims she craves.

Susan Petrarca
Lemont, Ill.

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Let the unions bail out public education. States, municipalities and school districts are reeling from the burden of unsustainable payroll expansion and pensions. These contracts were negotiated by officials whose election the teachers unions themselves have helped fund. Let the unions, therefore, be the first to bailout the education sector.

Bruno Behrend

The Heartland Institute

Chicago

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Ms. Weingarten is president of the AFT and most of its members are government employees with tenure and job security. They have an employer-provided pension plan. They have employer-provided benefits. They get several vacations and summers off.

My wife and I are both self-employed. We are not members of a union. We have no tenure and no job security. We have no employer-provided pension plan. We have no employer-provided benefits. We can’t afford to turn down whatever work we may find in order to take a vacation.

I’m not belittling teachers or the work they do. But it is a bit difficult for me to watch folks who are much better off than I am asking for $23 billion more than they already have, especially when that money comes from my (rising) taxes.

Robert Allan Schwartz
Lexington, Mass.

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If the Wall Street bailout analogy is to be used, are teachers prepared to be vilified and micromanaged by Congress, including pay caps, targeted special teacher taxes and monitoring of daily activities in classrooms?

America hasn’t gotten its money’s worth in public schools for several decades, a period that happens to coincide with progressive union dominance of public education. Just as General Motors became a pension and health-care plan masquerading as a car company, public schools too often are in the business of securing jobs and benefits for teachers, while paying lip service to education.

Ray Parker
Annapolis, Md.

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Alfonzo Rachel on Tea Parties and  Civil Dialog:

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dENSA Spokane will meet at Churchill’s Steakhouse located at 165 South Post Street

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