Author’s note: For your viewing pleasure, a link to FOX 29’s fiery “non-debate” on school strikes follows this column. Is it any wonder why the PSEA won’t talk about the merits of strikes, and instead engages in personal, factually incorrect attacks (in Latin, no less!) on extraneous issues? P.S.: I am sending PSEA the bill for my blown-out eardrums.
To modify the legendary quote from Dean Wormer in Animal House: Arrogant, greedy and aloof is no way to go through life.
But that’s exactly how the teachers’ unions in Pennsylvania have behaved for decades.
With millions in forced union dues, they have constructed a statewide political empire, using their muscle to crush any and all opposition.
To their credit, they have been immensely successful in squeezing every last penny from broke municipalities and overtaxed residents. In good economies and bad, they demand and receive large raises and benefits, including, in many cases, free healthcare.
In Bucks County’s Neshaminy School District, for example, the unions have steadfastly refused to renegotiate their healthcare plan. Can you blame them? They don’t pay one cent toward their Rolls Royce plan, which costs $27,000 per teacher, per year. Meanwhile, those in the private sector are shelling out 30 or 40 percent of their healthcare costs, with many shouldering the entire burden. And when Neshaminy teachers retire, they are guaranteed healthcare until age 65. And as an added retirement “incentive”, they are handed almost $30,000 just to walk out the door.
Amazingly, Neshaminy isn’t the exception. Unfortunately, such excess is commonplace throughout the state.
To make the sin mortal, Pennsylvania leads the nation every year in school strikes. In fact, the Keystone State experiences more teacher strikes than all other states combined.
And that is the reason so many citizens are scratching their heads. Teachers are universally respected for the priceless role they play, but when they strike, especially in a recession where the private sector continues to hemorrhage jobs, it is seen as a slap in the face.
While Pennsylvania teachers are first in school strikes and top five in salaries and benefits, the same cannot be said of student achievement — as evidenced by their 42nd –ranked SAT scores.
And you can’t just blame city schools for bringing the numbers down. In suburban Neshaminy, 33 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in reading, and 28% can’t perform basic math.
To the unions, money is the cure all. Pay more money (and better benefits) to the teachers while increasing funding for public education, and all the problems will be solved. But we’ve been doing that for decades, and education achievement hasn’t improved.
Given that the global economy is here to stay, our dismal academic performance becomes more dire every year. Our students are no longer competing against just those in San Francisco and Seattle, but Stockholm, Singapore and Sydney. Yet compared to our top 30 global counterparts, the U.S. is, at best, in the middle of the pack and more often, much lower.
The solution is to instill accountability to our schools and rein in the out-of-control unions. And with a new Governor and state legislature poised to tackle the tough issues, the political will to enact meaningful changes is not just possible, but probable. Here are two immediate steps that would help bring vast improvement to Pennsylvania’s educational system:
Inject competition by enacting school choice. When….
Read the rest and post a comment on Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:
Fiery Non-Debate on FOX 29:
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
December 8, 2010 at 11:09 am Comments (0)