Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Response to Gov.-Elect Snyder's "Idea"

Okay, so I am really not in a warm, tropical place this vacation, and thus, I'm reading the local papers! I submited this to the Detroit News in Response to Governor-elect Snyder's December 22nd article regarding public employee pay cuts.
You can write as well by using this link:

I always read articles about slashing teacher pay with great trepidation because the real story is not out there. At first glance, it must appear to people, including our incoming governor, that teachers have made no concessions, nor given up any salary. Quite frankly, I think this is brought up again and again because people will come to believe it if they hear it enough without looking at what has actually happened.

Because of collective bargaining, there are MANY different ways that a teacher group can help save a district money. We are not tied to the unimaginative, draconian cuts that business uses. Teachers over the years have again and again given up pay raises to maintain parts of their health care. Because of collective bargaining, teacher groups can look at their insurance policies and bargain in new riders that save a district money. For instance, higher prescription co-pays, higher office visits and deductibles.

Last year, if you looked around the state, teachers bargained away their pay raises, they increased their payment tracks, and they took furlough days. In addition, less teachers are doing more and more with bigger classes, without the help of interventionists or classroom aides, which saves districts, in some cases, 100’s of salaries.

Snyder’s proposals are also very shortsighted in that they will not improve Michigan’s economy. Lou Glazer, the president of Michigan Future, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, says that the future of Michigan is a “knowledge-driven economy”. He says it is “80% of the nations’ job growth since 2001.” He says that the problem with Michigan is that “we are 32nd in the share of our employment earnings from knowledge-based industries”. He goes on to say that employers will move to where the talent is, not places with “low taxes and weak unions”, the very things our own state leaders continually push forward as "policy".

We should be treating educators as the foremost leaders of the future of Michigan and paying them as such. We are not going to attract the best educators to the schools and thus have our children the best educated if education is seen as a place where the employee is continually bashed and at risk of major loss of compensation at the whim of a partisan government. That is the real crime in Michigan.