Friday, September 30, 2005

The man has no shame

Fernando Ferrer, Democratic candidate for NYC mayor, earlier this week was caught in a probable lie, and after claiming, "God is on my side." Now he's breaking campaign rules. From the New York Post (registration required, use

September 29, 2005 -- Fernando Ferrer brazenly broke city Department of Education rules by campaigning in a Queens high school yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg and education officials charged.

It's the second controversy in two days involving Ferrer and education — coming right after his false claim that most of his education was in public schools.

Yesterday, Ferrer spoke to more than 200 12th-grade students at Flushing HS, in an event that was listed on his campaign schedule.

City rules bar political candidates from electioneering in schools within 60 days of an election.

Bloomberg was clearly irked at Ferrer for thumbing his nose at the rule, and the mayor also rapped Flushing HS Principal Cornelia Gutwin.

"A principal did decide to let him in. The principal should not have. There is a rule against campaigning on school property," Bloomberg said.

"That shouldn't have happened, and he [Ferrer] knows the rules as well as anybody."

Outside the school after he spoke to students, Ferrer insisted the event was not political — even though his campaign told the media about it.

"I didn't campaign. I made it a point to talk to these kids about civic participation and my own experiences at a young age," Ferrer said.

In Queens, students said Ferrer answered questions about education and giving teachers a pay hike — a highly political topic, since Ferrer is courting the teachers' union for an endorsement.

"He was saying that he is going to improve education for the students and he's going to raise the salary of the teachers," said Farah Matthew, 16.

The electioneering ban gives something of an edge to incumbent pols, since the rules permit them to hold events in schools at any time, as long as they are related to their official public duties.

Bloomberg, for example, joined Klein last week at PS 40 in Brooklyn to release new fourth- and eighth-grade math test scores.

Ferrer spokeswoman Jen Bluestein accused Bloomberg of having a double standard.

She said it's "very remarkable" that the mayor thinks it's OK to announce test scores in a school during his re-election campaign, while at the same complaining about Ferrer talking to students about being good citizens.

Meanwhile, Ferrer met with Randi Weingarten, the head of the teachers union, which is embroiled in bitter contract talks with the Bloomberg administration.

A spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers president said she made no commitment to back Ferrer during their power breakfast at the Regency Hotel.
Now, I have no love for Bloomberg. I've unhesitatingly criticized him on things like his misleading campaign ads and advocacy of the West Side Stadium. However, Ferrer can't weasel out of his latest blunder by pointing at Bloomberg and whining, "Hey, he did it too!" Bloomberg was indeed getting publicity, but ask this: would a lame-duck mayor have done the same announcement? Yes.

Ferrer, on the other hand, was clearly campaigning. He was talking about "civic participation," which principally means voting, but he went beyond that and his "experiences at a young age." A student clearly recalled that Ferrer spoke of what he would do for teachers and schools as mayor. Add two and two, and it's clear that Ferrer was promoting his candidacy, not including the fact that it was on his campaign schedule.

As far as the UTF, their support for Ferrer is, at this point, tacit. As mayor, he would give them what they want: cushier jobs at taxpayers' expense.

One letter to the Post, probably by a teacher, claimed:
All teachers in New York City schools must possess a master's degree to become licensed.

This extra education expense is shouldered by the teacher, but in private industry, this cost is covered by the employer.

Most teachers spend their own money - which is not reimbursed - for supplies and equipment that the city does not provide.
I do not wish at all to disparage the hard work of good teachers, but the first and second paragraphs are not quite true, and the third is misleading.

Perhaps it hinges on the definition of "licensed," but one can teach in NYC public schools with only a bachelor's degree. I've seen recruiting advertisements seeking people with just bachelor's, and as I recall you can start as high as $38K, if you're willing to teach at schools in need of teachers. Usually that means a tougher part of the city, though if you graduated from college and need a job, teaching can be a very viable option because of great benefits: generous health insurance, pension plans, and the state will pay tuition for a master's in education. That's what a business associate's niece is doing. A graduate degree in education isn't exactly the most flexible of choices, but it generally means higher pay.

I should add that the rest of us know that not all private employers will pay for or reimburse tuition, whether in whole or in part, and at any level. So the two claims about teacher education are worse than silly. I find them insulting for their implication that people don't know any better and will believe them.

The third paragraph doesn't consider that part of a teacher's pay implicity covers out-of-pocket expenses. My new job doesn't reimburse me for my monthly Metro-North train ticket, let alone my subway fare, but I wouldn't have accepted the job if it didn't pay enough to justify my monetary (and time) cost of commuting. Let's say my employer initially hired me with the promise to pay for my train and subway expenses. Who really thinks I'd be paid as much as I currently am? When I was doing computer upgrades at the Ford Foundation, the Foundation "bought" us dinner. Or did it?

So while it seems "proper" that the public school system cover the costs, if it did that, then teachers would have to be paid less. The same applies to health insurance and other benefits. More and more Americans are coming to believe the Great Hillary Lie, that health insurance should be free. But it's hardly free. The employer does not pay anything, just like businesses do not really pay taxes. The costs must eventually be born by people.

If the employer elects to maintain the employee's wages and instead charge more for its products, then that affects consumers' overall purchasing power. Remember what Bastiat said in the first chapter of his Sophisms: "Man produces in order to consume. He is at once both producer and consumer." So though we initially aren't affected by our employer's higher prices, because we're too busy feeling pleased about the health insurance, the prices eventually circle back to us. A particular person will pay higher prices on everything to cover the costs of others' work-based health insurance, just like the others all pay higher prices on everything for the same purpose. The fair way would be to let each individual pay for his own consumption.


Blogger Scorpius said...

Most teachers spend their own money - which is not reimbursed - for supplies and equipment that the city does not provide.

I think I understand the nature of this grudge. A lot of fresh-faced teachers I met right out of college complained that they actually had to take work home with them and that they had to work on it on a computer they had to buy themselves. They seemed to think their privelge to work related resources was a right.

I tried explaining to them that many of us in the private sector or research worked long hours and had to compete for scarce resources. So, we had to make a decision: either stay late, forgo the comforts of home, and use the comps when there was no competition for them; or spend the money to buy one of their own.

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:28:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home