Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Berkeley teachers really love their kids

Via Yahoo! AP News, another example of extortion by teachers' unions (this one happens to be the Berkeley Federation of Teachers). Without pay raises, teachers won't do work outside the classroom.

In California, teacher salaries are set by local school districts. In Berkeley, a "substitute/replacement teacher" with only two years experience can start at $44K per year. California traditionally pays its teachers some of the highest salaries in the U.S., but admittedly it isn't the cheapest state to live in. Still, that's not bad pay for five years of college (B.A. plus one year of graduate) and two years of experience.

California is facing some tough fiscal times, and balancing the state budget must come mainly from cuts and streamlining. Californians are already taxed so heavily that the state is bleeding businesses, jobs and people; higher taxes will only exacerbate things. Now, the teachers aren't even facing pay cuts, only that they've gone a couple of years without raises. There are plenty of private industries where people haven't received pay raises in even longer. One of my friends hasn't had one in three years.

This extortion is to be expected when the state has a near-monopoly on a particular service, making it easy for a union to demand things that the free market otherwise wouldn't provide. I wish Gov. Schwarzenegger every bit of luck in pushing for a merit-based pay system for public school teachers. It will reveal which ones aren't worth their hire; after all, competition isn't necessarily being the most efficient, but being willing to put in more work for less pay. A merit system will also attract and retain the good teachers.

A merit-based pay system is admittedly not perfect. It creates an incentive for teachers to cheat, for example, but "merit" could just as easily apply to teaching harder, more important courses like math and science. Merit is certainly better than the current system of seniority, which rewards mediocrity -- and fails to punish teachers who reveal their true colors with stunts like this.

2 Comments:

Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

"Californians are already taxed so heavily that the state is bleeding businesses, jobs and people; higher taxes will only exacerbate things."

Perry,
Are you a Californian? I am, but will soon be outta this hellhole, off to greener pastures. They'll have to find some other poor sap and steal 9.3% of his income.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005 6:38:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Welcome, Brad!

When I was little, my family lived in the Bay Area for a few years. First in the Sunset district of San Fran, then South San Francisco.

My dad was from upstate New York and didn't mind cold, but he couldn't get used to the fog. Property was also ridiculous by the time we moved in 1986...to Utah, of all places.

Nowadays I live in New York, which isn't much better than California.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005 6:55:00 PM  

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