~~*”:.-_We crashed their meeting! _-=:”*~~
The best of the best, or the worst of the worst, depending on how you think of it, was this statement:
From the back of the room, an attendee asked asked directly, “What have YOU teachers and administrators given up in the budget process?” The TEA Party members whipped their heads back to the front of the room. The young teacher/presenter, Laura Parnell, responded, “How have I sacrificed? I don’t shop at Walmart. I only buy local and that’s a great sacrifice for my family.” [Somebody enroll her in a Logic class.] I followed-up with, “Then you probably have enough money to contribute 10%-20% towards the cost of your medical insurance?” She said she did not. The rest of the teachers in the room exploded, we can’t afford to pay that. We argument, “Why not? The rest of the country does?” They wouldn’t have any part of the sacrifice “for the children”.
There were 6 of TEA Party patriots and another Conservative citizen, at the NC Association of Educators (NCAE) meeting. I stumbled upon the meeting on the FoothillsRadio.com website 3 hours before the meeting, and then announced it on facebook and here. The meeting was meant for teachers, administrators, parents, PTA/PTO presidents, and any concerned citizens to attend this important county wide meeting about the budget and NC education. Well… including the two presenters (and a husband of one), the Western Region NCAE (union steward), and two students from the Early Middle College, there were a total of 11 of them. If you do the math, they got 7 people there – not an overwhelming turnout supporting the NCAE (teachers’ union).
So, here’s the details.
They began with a Power Point presentation that they abandoned after about 10 slides, because we kept poking holes in their data.
They claimed the NC Legislature has stolen $2 billion dollars from schools and funneled another $2 billion dollars to special interest groups and loopholes. The presenters could produce neither names nor specifics about special interests of loopholes. And I spoke to NC Rep. Edgar Starnes last night, and he assured me they had not “stolen” $2 billion from the schools.
The “union” steward stated that Art Pope, John Locke Foundation, Civitas, and Americans For Prosperity were the special interest groups. Art Pope, she claimed, supported 32 TEA Party candidates in NC in the last election and 22 were elected. The TEA Party members looked at each other, shrugged and let out a little cheer. 🙂
They equated school spending with performance continuously. We didn’t agree and brought up the statistics that show that when the Dept of Education was formed in the 70’s until now, spending on education has increased 10-fold, but performance has remained exactly the same, the drop out rate is exactly the same, and our performance on standardized testing and global competition has decreased dramatically. So, the TEA Party made clear that more money isn’t the issue in the schools. The NCAE didn’t agree.
I suggested school tighten their belts by not buying new textbooks for 2-3 years to save money. They showed a slide from the budget that cut new textbook spending by 34.5%, but said they had changed it to 66% cut. The teachers didn’t like the idea. The students in the back of the room stood to say at the Early Middle College they don’t use textbooks, they use laptops, iPad’s, and cell phone for information and homework. The students supported not buying textbooks and observed that the books could be used much longer than they currently are being used, “You can use a book until it falls apart.”
The NCAE fear mongers told the students in the back of the room, the NCGA will cut the entire technology budget from schools in this budget. The heavily dependent students were terrified and said they wouldn’t come to school anymore. I asked, “Could you be more specific about these technology cuts? The schools already have computers and internet. They can still be used for years until there’s more money in the budget for upgrades. The NC Legislature is not going to confiscate all the existing technology from the classrooms.” The presenter had no specifics.
Going back to teachers contributing a small portion to their medical insurance and retirement, I brought up the solution several times as a quick and easy way to balance the budget. The “union steward” interjected that we cannot accept any required contribution because it opens the door to more and more contributions. She sited the State of Georgia’s request for teachers to pay $22 PER YEAR at first, and she was outraged that now Georgia teachers contribute 6.25% of the cost of their medical insurance. Oooooooooooooooooo! The TEA Party looked around the room at the indignant teachers and said, “The rest of the country pays something towards their medical insurance and retirement. Why should you be any different?” They got loud and shouted, “You can’t make us pay that out of our salary!!”
Funny, they denied the existence of NC teachers’ union. [eye roll] I have the card from the NCAE “union steward”. After the meeting, she told me that her “entire salary was paid by private money, membership dues, not by school money.” Uh, that’s union dues! How do they get away with saying there is no teachers’ union in NC???? They collectively bargain and control everything in the classrooms. The NCAE steps in and negotiates salaries, dismissals, and any problems relating to teachers. They don’t advocate on behalf of students or parents. They control licensing requirements and renewals. They demonize homeschools, virtual schools, charter schools, and vouchers in the name of protecting the children. There are only two things the unions can’t do in NC: make dues required for employment, and strike. However, I call the whole thing racketeering and contrary to America’s belief in free-markets.
They enlisted class warfare repeatedly in many of their arguments. Saying, “Only the wealthy have choices and that’s not fair to the disadvantaged.” [another eye roll] I asked the NCAE union steward if she thought that every student should be given a Rolls Royce education for free? She thought for a minute and said, “No.” I was shocked at her response, because they claim to be such education advocates. She didn’t think that a Rolls Royce level of education was sustainable for the country. Oh, now isn’t that interesting? Does she mean they are advocating for a mediocre education for all (not great, and not bad). That’s the theme of Socialism – everything is so equal that is sucks! In opposition to Socialism, America believes that we are the land of equal opportunity – not equal outcome.
Charter schools are a hot button issue for them. They want Charter schools held to the same standards as public schools. I asked for a specifics. They demand free transportation for all students, breakfast and lunch provided, tons of tracking paperwork for federal statistics, and all the standardized testing. [eh, we got side tracked with this issue and wasted time. After I thought about it, I don’t really care about Charter schools. I’m more of a fan of public or private schools, and not blurring the line between the two. But I’m not against Charter schools, it’s just not the issue I wanna focus on right now.]
Surprise!!! Stimulus spending money is running out and the schools over extended themselves and now there will be a big impact next year when all that money is gone. Duh, the state and federal governments are out of money!!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My remedies for budget short falls:
- No new textbooks for 2-3 years.
- Teachers and Administrators pay 10-20% of their medical insurance premium. Currently they contribute zero.
Teachers and Administrators pay 10-20% of their retirement. Currently they contribute zero.I AM WRONG HERE. I was sent a very nice email about this yesterday and did some research. Teachers do pay in a percentage of the income into their retirement plans (in that person’s case $300 per month). The NCACNCACC explained it this way, “Over 20-years, teachers pay in $60,000 (for 30-years $90,000), but they receive back over $900,000 in lifetime benefits for themselves and their spouse’s.) This is an outstanding return on investment and possibly why the state education retirements funds are in such dire straights. There is also a 401K teacher can contribute to separately, but the schools do not match funds here.
- Stop EOG/EOC testing. Or at least, stop months of test preparation.
- End all the hours of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) tracking paperwork that teachers in lowers grades are slave to.
- Fire bad teachers asap. End the 1-year of “cause” documentation and mediation necessary for removing a bad teacher from the classroom. End the peer observations, contact logs, etc… I have seen the dog-and-pony-show of a bad teacher being observed, and for 45-minutes once every 5-years anybody can look compassionate, competent, and knowledgeable.
[4/18/11 Note: I made a few changes to the article and made notes of what or why I changed it. Also, when I affectionately call the NCAE representative a “union steward” when the real job title is UniServ Director Service Area C, I am using the broadest, most understood terms. In a non-Right to Work state, they would be referred to as a union steward. Steward meaning protector. They are not employee/member protectors, but union protectors. They protect the union and fight hard to keep all the paying members. If they offer protection (like a bodyguard), they can collect for membership dues from more people who want to be protected. The President of the NEA has given numerous speeches saying that he will advocate on behalf of students when they begin paying dues.]