I am hearing a lot of talk and emotional tugs at the heartstrings during this teacher strike debate claiming that the teachers of the Strongsville School District "deserve more" in both pay and benefits because of their tenure, degree, etc.
Looking at the reality of the situation, that is just completely untrue.
Allow me to explain. First, you don't "deserve" anything because you have a degree or because you have been an employee somewhere for a certain duration of time. No one shook your hand at handed you a diploma saying "Now you are guaranteed employment and a salary that you feel is commesurate with your education." Nope. If you were told that and actually believed it, you might be just a tad too naive for this world.
Long ago, I had bartending friends who had law degrees and one was a graduate of medical school. They needed money to pay rent, buy groceries, etc. They did not go knocking on potential employers doors telling them how intelligent they were and how they "deserved" more money than what they were making at the bar. They did what they had to do given the current economic circumstance. You can tell yourself that you are underpaid all you want, but if there's no one willing (or able) to pay you the amount you are asking for, what's the point?
Tenure. The thought of increasing an employee's rate of pay solely based on the amount of time that employee has worked at a company is contrary to all rational thought for efficiency in running a business, yet we allow many teacher's unions to implement tenure systems within our public schools. I'm sorry, but I don't care if you have been at my company for 20 years or 10 days, if you are not an efficient, reliable employee that performs their agreed upon duties consistently on a daily basis, I'm looking elsewhere and you should start getting your resume ready. This is a system that breeds inefficiency. You can dispute it all you want, but if you remove incentive from people, they will only perform at a level to meet the minimum requirements.
Think of the redistribution of grades analogy that students previously perfomed at their college. They interviewed fellow students and asked them if they believed in redistribution of wealth. Most said yes. It sounds good. Many said things such as "what do rich people need all that money for" or "they have enough to spread around to people who need it more," etc. Okay...but what about when that rule is applied to their grades?
So when those same interviewers then asked them: Would you be open to a system where grades are redistributed based on need? Ex: If there is a student with a 4.0 GPA and a student who commutes and works 2 jobs and is pulling a 2.6 GPA. They were asked "would you be willing as the 4.0 student to 'redistribute' some of your gpa to a more 'needy' student since you have an 'excessive' GPA?"
The resounding answer was a flat "NO WAY!" Why? The same reasons citizens want to keep more of their own money and give less to taxes: We earned it!
Taxpayers feel the same way. We value where are money is spent. We want to ensure it is being allocated in the most efficient way possible. We value our teachers and want them to be paid on the merit of their individual performance. Right now, that is not the case in the Strongsville City School District, nor is it even possible with the current evaluation system.
Here's a quote from Cory Shaffer's article at Cleveland.com: "The teachers union argues that its members haven't had a raise since 2008, and agreed to pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums, capped at $150 a month for families and $75 for individuals."
Ok. Let that sink in for a second. Let's talk about the health insurance premiums and what's not mentioned here, the pension.
I know that our nation's President talked about how our health care premiums would be going down on average of $2500.00, but as anyone with a pulse can see, that's not gonna happen. Sally Pipes, President, CEO, and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, explained it this way in a recent article in Forbes:
"...health insurance isn’t any cheaper. In fact, it’s more expensive. Premiums have increased by an average of $3,065. And they’re about to go up even more, as Obamacare takes effect during the president’s second term.
At the end of 2012, Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the country, warned that many consumers would face “premium rate shock” with the advent of Obamacare’s major insurance regulations in 2014. He predicted that unsubsidized premiums would rise 20 to 50 percent, on average.
For some people, premiums would double. “We’re going to see some markets go up as much as 100 percent,” Bertolini told Bloomberg News."
Now, Strongsville teachers and supporters, after reading the information above, please tell us again how paying a maxiumum of $150 per month (family) and $75 per month (individual) for outstanding medical coverage is "unfair?" Do you even want to see our medical costs, that we, by the way, must fund fully on our own?
And we haven't even started talking about your pensions yet. Those are fully funded with Strongsville tax payer dollars.
Do you really have the gall to tell us that you've "made concessions?" Do you really feel it's "fair" to ask another citizen to fully fund their own pension and healthcare and on top of that, also be obligated to fund your entire pension and 90% of your health care costs?
If you say yes, then it's time for a reality check.
There's no money left to give. The system is unsustainable as it is currently set up. The Strongsville City School's own press release states:
"If the Strongsville City Schools continued down its current path, projected deficits are $1.1 million for 2014, $4.6 million for 2015 and $10.8 million for 2016," the release said. "We presented a contract proposal that reflects the economic reality of these difficult fiscal times."
Key word: REALITY. These extraordinary liabilities are literally devouring the school district's budget each year and obviously, based on the numbers above, will continue to do so until there is change in how teacher's pensions and health care premiums are funded.
Since many seem to disregard all facts of the current economic situation of the school district, I think it would be a good idea to try something new. I took a look at some of the publicly posted teachers salaries, names, etc (all are a matter of public record and are listed on the Ohio State Treasurers website).
I thought it would be interesting to see if all of these rumors about "five year pay freezes" and "unfair benefits" were true.
Uh, there not.
Below is information that is a public record and available on the State Treasurer's website. In no way shape or form is this meant to be a witch hunt whatsoever, nor would I ever in my life condone such behavior. The names and salaries are a matter of public record and are there if you want to see them, just go to the website and search for your school.
This is simply an attempt to get people to do some homework and log onto a site that is completely available to the viewing public and start understanding not only where our tax dollars go, how fairly our teachers ARE being compensated, and have the information to use your own ability to discern fact from fiction. This is all public information that any person can look up at any time, unfortunately though, most do not have any idea exactly how their teachers are being compensated.
All information below is taken directly from the Ohio State Treasurers website: http://www.tos.ohio.gov/teacher_salary
If this information contains errors, the OH State Treasurers website has a disclaimer on the homepage as to where those errors occured. I am only publishing what is publicly available, not heresay.
2012 school year details are not posted on this site as of yet.
I thought since the SEA's own public spokesperson was so adamantly telling our residents how the teachers deserve better, why don't we take a look at how she's been compensated by the city's tax dollars:
Name: Christine Canning
School District: Strongsville City
School: Allen Elementary School
Salary (not including benefits):
2011: $54,975.00 Days worked: 184
2010: $53,008.00 Days worked: 184
2009: $48,860.00 Days worked: 184
2008: $38,228.00 Days worked: 184
2007: $37,026.00 Days worked: 185
Est. Current taxpayer funded portion of health care: 90% of health care premium
Est. Current Taxpayer funded portion of Pension: 100%
I applaud Ms. Canning's work if her pay raises were merit based. However, this shows you that the propaganda being spread about "pay freezes over the past five years" is 100% untrue. Ms. Canning's pay increased each year that was listed on the state treasurers website, and the it was approximately a 48.5% increase in salary from 2007 compared to 2011 (equating to an additional salary increase of $17,949.00). We must also know that this salary does not factor in health care premium coverage by tax payers nor taxpayer pension funding.
Again, my goal here in particular is to simply point out false statements, not to say what she "deserves." If there has been a pay freeze for the past five years, which is the rumor that is going around every message board, please explain how the above numbers possibly work to prove that?
Ms. Canning had plenty to say about how the Board spends our tax dollars in a February 27th article from Cleveland.com titled "Strongsville School Board: Behavior of Teachers Shows Strike is 'Inevitable.'"
"It's no surprise David Frazee believes a strike is inevitable when he has yet to come to the table and reign in an out of control attorney who is profiteering from a crisis of his own making," Canning said. "Rather than spending money on teachers and students of their the district, the board is negligibly wasting taxpayer dollars on hiring security goons and unqualified replacement workers."
I'm not an accountant, but I'm pretty sure that if we took the dollars spent on hiring security and substitute teachers, we would barely put a dent in the amount of unfunded pension/health care liabilities that face our school district right now and continue to loom over us for the upcoming school year. Large credit card bills don't go away by making minimum payments and putting it off until next time.
Hope our kids are learning better math than this in school.