by LARRY SAND on NOVEMBER 27, 2012, UNION WATCH
Throwing ever more funds at education without making substantive changes to the system is a horrible waste of money, not to mention children’s lives.
California Democrat Congressman Mike Honda and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel recently collaborated on an op-ed that played up just about every bit of feel good, cliché-riddled drivel ever written about education. If this piece was a drug, the FDA would have banned it years ago. A few examples:
Lamenting the fact that many teachers leave the classroom within the first few years, they say,
According to research estimates, one in four beginning teachers will leave the profession within their first three years in the classroom, and in urban areas, close to 50 percent will leave within five years.
This is totally misleading. The implication here is that teachers are leaving the profession in droves because they are overworked, underappreciated, overwhelmed and underpaid. But the reality is that they leave for a wide variety of reasons, including taking an administrative position, personal or family reasons, pregnancy, health, change of residence, etc. A survey from North Carolina, for instance, reveals that only 2.24 percent said they were leaving the profession due to dissatisfaction with teaching.
Another fiction the authors use to sway the unknowing public is the “competitive teacher salary myth.”
…the lack of competitive salaries for classroom teachers compared to other professions diminishes the consideration of teaching as a viable long-term career option. All of these issues rob children of the diverse, committed, capable teachers they need and deserve.
Before reaching for the Kleenex, please consider the following: Andrew Biggs, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute and Jason Richwine, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, conducted a study on teacher pay, the results of which were released just a year ago. They found that when perks like healthcare and pension packages are taken into consideration, teachers are in fact overpaid. Armed with facts, charts and a bevy of footnotes, the authors make a very good case for their thesis. For example, they claim,
Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent, while teachers who change to non-teaching jobs see their wages decrease by approximately 3 percent.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.