While it may seem that the MEA has done great things for educators in its bludgeoning of Michigan lawmakers over the last few days, the end result might well be a snap back, that makes more glaringly obvious the over compensation of Michigan’s public school teachers. The quest by Lawmakers to reduce spending by $218 per pupil soundly fought by the MEA, now according to sources might leave little room to avoid a need of nearly double that next year.
The recent budget battle in Lansing was an opportunity for the MEA to demonstrate a reasonable concern about the job security of the school employees that it represents. Instead, it chose to offer many republican lawmakers a choice of becoming a target in upcoming elections, or vote along with them to keep the status quo. The status quo by the way, using stimulus money from the federal government to pay today what then becomes a bigger issue a year from now.
Teachers might think twice when considering this a good move. Given the current backlash at over taxation and lack of checks on government, any additional trouble with the finances of our K-12 System is likely to draw even more attention to facts such as these:
One way to get an objective handle of what is going on in this dispute — and to judge for yourself what constitutes an “adequate” level of school spending — is to consider the most recent rankings of education cost inputs from the American Legislative Exchange Council, using data from the U.S. Department of Education. For example, according to ALEC, the average teacher salary in the United States for 2006-2007 was $46,593. Michigan has the 4th highest paid teachers on the list, with an average salary of $58,482.
Next, given that Michigan cannot even get its high schools into the top 20 in the country is it fair to assume that we may not be getting our value?
The MEA and its kissing (and lobbying) cousins in other states could likely care less. As long as its officers are well employed and a fat insurance and benefits package mandate feeds this leviathan. When school boards try to stretch a little less each year by privatization efforts, and the MEA activity shows full force for recalls, and other disruptive activities, it seems that the quest to help the “system” provide the most benefit to the students is overcome.
The MEA has certainly worked hard at getting as much as it possibly can for the teachers, resulting in the 4th most comfortable compensation package in the nation, but to suggest that it does so with an altruistic intent of better educating the children is a severe mistake that now threatens EVERY taxpayer with higher taxes, and sooner than later. Higher taxes, which will most certainly result in more protests, more finger pointing at legislators that need to “strap a couple on,” and a harsher backlash at the state’s education system as a whole.
The superintendents of public schools across the state should consider now how best to prepare for dealing with budgets that will be SEVERELY cut on the next go round. New contracts that are negotiated will have to done with a mind towards reductions in pay for educators who have had a good ride up until now. Educators that should have had their representation on a little shorter leash.
My prediction: consider a $10,000-$15,000 cut per teacher salary not entirely off the list of possibilities as School boards recieve word from Lansing that the state is broke.