Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teachers’ Union Protects Senior Teachers, Harms Younger Teachers and Kids

From Murphy’s Law, an account of how the Milwaukee teachers’ union is acting like . . . a union.
In the last couple weeks, we’ve seen the dispiriting spectacle of layoff notices going to nearly 500 Milwaukee Public Schools teachers. This includes some excellent ones let go simply because they have less seniority. This will mean even bigger average class sizes – and further declines in quality – for a district already struggling badly. And a clear culprit is the teachers union.

The union has always been more concerned about its veteran teachers, more worried about pensions than starting salaries for new teachers. Union officials have argued that this “career ladder” will attract new teachers, but that’s nonsense: What twentysomething teacher is thinking about a retirement that is at least 30 years away? Milwaukee teachers were already part of the excellent state pension system, yet back in the late 1990s, the union successfully pushed for an unneeded, supplementary plan that used local tax dollars to sweeten the pension for a select group of long-term teachers.

MPS officials argue that none of the recent layoffs would have been necessary if the union would agree to switch from its Aetna insurance plan to a lower-cost plan offered through United Healthcare. This could save the district some $48 million, enough to prevent any job layoffs for teachers, school board president Michael Bonds claims. “I’m not aware of any place in the nation that pays 100 percent of teachers’ health care benefits and doesn’t require a contribution from those who choose to take a more expensive plan,” Bonds told the press.
The teachers’ union is always demanding more funding for education, but embarrassingly, private schools hire good teachers that provide effective edutation and spend about half as much to educate a student for a year as the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Unionized teachers are a classic example of what economists call “rent seekers,” using politics to get for themselves money and perquisites that their productivity could never get them in a competitive market.

Think Detroit.

Think Greece.

And of course, think Milwaukee Public Schools.

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