Sunday, July 10, 2005


Even as class sizes grow, school districts pay high health, pension costs
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — School districts across the state pay teachers, administrators and staff 55 percent more in health insurance and retirement pay than schools across the nation, according to an analysis by The Oregonian newspaper.

The paper found that if the state's school districts did conform to the national rate, schools would save about $500 million next year.

"Taxpayers in Oregon are pumping money into the public education system that doesn't benefit the learning environment in classrooms one bit," Jim Green, senior legislative advocate for the Oregon School Boards Association, told the newspaper.

It feelsrepetitivee to say it again but PERS and theCadillacc health care that Oregon teachers get is bankrupting our schools. Our lawmakers know this, our teachers know this, the unions know this, the citizens (with the exception of Multnomah County) know this, but what is being done? Nothing! The unions aren't willing to give an inch and they know they don't have to. The Dems in the legislature pee their pants when the OEA's lobbyist steps in the room.

And if you need evidence that unions don't give a damn about taxpayer dollars or the community that their "public servants" serve just look at the recent Police and Firefighters disability fund scam. The union opposes fixing that even though everyone in their right mind knows it's a fraud on the taxpayers.

The OEA's website lists this as their number one goal:
The top priority of the Oregon Education Association is to ensure that all students in Oregon receive a quality education.

That is a worthy goal for sure. How do they propose to accomplish it? Make sure that teachers are competent? Fight for a challenging curriculum? No. It's:
To meet this goal, OEA will pursue adequate and stable funding for public education.

I would love for someone to define "adequate" for me. If we currently spend $10,000 per student per year and that isn't enough then tell me what is. I'm tired of "more" or "adequate" or some other vague term to describe how much they want. Really, give me an amount. How much should we spend per student?

This works great when debating liberals because they don't really have an answer other than "more" because they just want as much as taxpayers are willing to concede. Next time you talk to one of those "we need more money for schools" people ask them how much more. They will inevitably say something about "however much it takes" or "reduce class sizes" or some nonsense but insist that they give you a dollar amount.

How much will it take to reduce class sizes? How much will it take to provide a quality education? While they are stuttering throw out $15,000 per student per year? $50,000 per student per year? How much?

The answer is they don't know. They just know that they want MORE. And the reason they want more is not because it will help them better educate our kids but so that they can continue to have pay, on average, $18,300 per employee in health care and retirement benefits.


Diesel said...

The thing is, I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. I think the state of education in this state/country is a result of a lot of different issues, of which you could probably fill 10 blogs with. Yeah, you can focus on only one problem at a time.

It appears that 'greedy teachers' is the flavor of the month. :)

Robin said...

unfortunately it does not stop at public schools. It also extends to the community colleges based on my experience of the last two years.

One incident that I had with an instructor when I complained to the department head, and reminded him that I am the consumer and they are providing a service,the department head told me, "if we ran the college with the consumer in mind, then this would be a business."

Unfortunately, giving the consumer their money's worth does not seem to be a priority in the community colleges or in public schools.

I start at the U of O this fall, and I pray that things are different.

if I had to do it over again, I think I would consider ITT technical Institute or some other private school.

Daniel said...

It's not "greed teachers" that I am railing against. You are taking the deal that you got when you signed up for the job and I certainly don't blame anyone for negotiating as much as they possibly can.

But we never, never, never should have given it to you. I would love to have a retirement system like PERS, but it will never happen in the private sector because it's not fiscally solvent. It can't be. It's promised returns are simply outrageous. I have a 401(k).

And I'm sorry but your health coverage is not in line with the real world either. I pay a premium and I have a (pretty high) deductable and even after that I pay a percentage of the medical costs.

While their are other problems with schools (too much admin) it's those two things are eating school budgets alive and they need to be fixed.

And Robin has a point, we pay the bill for all of this so we want the best product (a good education) possible for our dollar. We are not getting that under our current system.

Diesel said...

Well, if you have noticed my age, I think I have mentioned that I'm a first year teacher. I'm not in the PERS system the way the older folk are, I'm in the "restructured" PERS.

jwalker said...

What I am going to say is going to piss off all my co-workers.....I agree with you Daniel. We just negotiated and I thought we came too close to strike for such great benefits. I love my benefits....but it isn't reality in any other field.

Some teachers do make a good point though that we get as much schooling as some lawyers and doctors and do not come close to the wages. With all the student loans. They common thought is that the benefits make up for some of the pay problems.

However, in today's high premiums, we can't ask for more. It isn't right. And I am in the un-restructured pers. I am going to make a killing if I stick with it.
My dad retired before the real money was made. He gets about $5000 less a month than his cronies that retired around the same time.
It is a very complex problem. I would still like to see how much special ed money we are putting out towards mainstreaming and look at the administration salaries as well. But you already know that from past discussions.

Daniel said...

Great comments, in the abstract. I really would like to hear some figures on how much per student per year we should be spending. What would buy us a quality education for our kids, ensure that we have well-trained, competent teachers, and not be too hard on the taxpayers?

Diesel said...

Forgive my youth and inexperience, but I don't think there is a magic $$ amount that can save education.

Why? The market, for one. Everything costs more these days. Not to mention (ok, I will anyway) that schools are, in the end, still just bureaucracy.

Case in point: My fiancee and other 2nd grade teachers were put in charge of finding some art easels (sp?) for their classrooms. They found some really expensive ones from some store catalog that the district contracts with. They didn't want those easels, because of the high cost. They found some much cheaper easels at Office Depot. The District told them they could not buy the cheap easels, as the District does not contract with Office Depot. Ridiculous, yeah?

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