Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Another comment hiccup...

Don't know why this didn't post below:
Steve has left a new comment on your post "The politics of "broke"... The new fear word for ...":

You make a good point in your previous post about how it is a drop in revenues rather than a jump in spending that is causing the current problem. You imply that a better response is to increase debt rather than reduce spending.

Where I live teacher pay is significantly above the average wage for the community. Teacher average is $60,000 with benefits while average person is $30,000.

What isn't said in most of the reports is that teachers hold more degrees so a masters or a PhD is compared to others who have the same educational level. When compared that way, the teacher is receiving average compensation. But since most others in the community do not have such degrees, they receive less compensation but the reports say they each receive the same amount when adjusted for educational level. Keep in mind, that there is no correlation between educational level and teaching ability. There is a correlation level between education and compensation though. So a teacher has significant financial incentive to amass educational credits during summers and the frequent in-service days even though it doesn't appear to help them teach better.

Gates on Compensation

To be fair, the community is becoming feudal in nature with the 20% who are land owners becoming wealthy while the 80% who do not own land having a hard time keeping up.

Where I live, the union has negotiated a guaranteed 5% return on the pensions and required that the State employees and teachers pension funds be invested in the stock market with the public employees pensions getting any greater return that the stock market might provide but with a 5% floor. The taxpayer makes up the difference if the stock market goes down.

In addition, the union has used the collective bargaining process to leapfrog compensation each year. Anytime someone's compensation is below average then they go to the arbitrator/court and have their compensation moved to average or above. Nothing the local board can do. That moves the other half below average, so they repeat the process. At any point in time, half are below average and have a complaint to file.

The unions by themselves are not breaking the Country. But they have managed to create a system that is inflexible, protects poorly performing people, costs more, and is the primary financial supporter of one political party and opponent of any kind of limit on taxes.

The process to fire a teacher in Illinois according to the Chicago Tribune.

Steps to Fire a Teacher

Steve:  I do not argue your points, and when Jan was president of the school board in our tiny district, it struck me as absurd all the work necessary just to keep the place running.

But my point is do we actually expect these essentially economic and efficiency reforms to make any difference in our abysmal educational outcome? If we're already struggling to attract high quality entrants now, as referenced in the excerpt below, those actions certainly don't strike me as corrective.

I really don't know what reform is needed to make our educational results better, and I also think this is really bad for our future. Leaving a broken educational system could be even worse than leaving a deficit.

Re your other point: I did not mean to imply debt THE solution to the exclusion of other remedies. In fact, I think starting with the Bowles-Simpson plan our best bet. It recognizes the importance of long term deficit reduction and also the tenuous nature of our recovery. Slashing federal programs at the same time state layoffs are dragging down employment is not a bad idea, but bad timing. Again, the bond market tells us the level of urgency needed. What is of primary importance is growth to return revenue to former levels.

I also think tax expenditures to be the place to cut first (after the wars). (Yeah - I'm talking about Sec 179, bonus depreciation, etc.) I would also welcome a return to Reagan-era tax rates.

Sorry about the foul-up.

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