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Brad Harrington

Lies Contribute Nothing To Educational Agenda

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I'll bet the WEA is wishing this critic had just kept his mouth shut. Heh heh heh!! Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle on January 22nd.

LIES CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO EDUCATIONAL AGENDA

By Bradley Harrington

“To the best of my recollection, I must recall on my memory, I cannot remember.” - Jimmy Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters organizer, Senate Hoffa hearings, 1957 -

Last week, when I likened the Wyoming Education Association (WEA) teachers union to the “fixed guild systems of feudalistic days of old” and characterized it as “nothing more than a force for stagnation” (“Teachers union simply a force for stagnation,” Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Jan. 15th), I knew that I could expect rebuttals.

Letter writer Kenneth Svigel, for instance, declares: “For your information, they [the WEA] aren’t a union they are an organization.”

Mr. Svigel presumes that being a member of the latter rules out being a member of the former, but Merriam-Webster’s definition of “union” begs to differ: “An organization of workers formed to advance its members’ interests, especially in reference to wages and working conditions.”

And this doesn’t apply to the WEA? I hardly think so, for the WEA’s website itself states quite clearly (in “Who we are”) that it seeks to “work to upgrade salaries, working conditions and learning conditions in public schools.”

Whether the WEA has anything positive to offer in terms of “learning conditions” is highly debatable, but the first two parts of that sentence pound the point home: Yes, Mr. Svigel, the WEA is an “organization.” A union organization. End of story.

But I can’t help but wonder: For what reason does Mr. Svigel seek to dissociate the WEA union from the “union” label? Why the dodging? Could it possibly be connected to the negative perceptions of unions in most people’s minds? Perceptions critics such as Mr. Svigel would rather avoid?

You know, perceptions such as pension-plundering schemes and bricks through scabs’ windows in the dark of the night. Thugging up workers willing to cross a picket line. Those kinds of things. The kinds of things Jimmy Hoffa used to love to do.

The same kind of perceptions, indeed, that have been partly responsible for the steady decline of private-sector union memberships for decades: “As a percent of employed workers, union membership peaked in 1954 at 28.3 percent. In 2003, 11.5 percent of employed workers were union members.” (Gerald Mayer, Congressional Research Service, “Union membership trends in the United States,” 2004.)

While private sector-unions have been shrinking, however, the same cannot be said of government unions such as the WEA: “More public-sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private-sector employees (7.4 million), despite there being five times more wage and salary workers in the private sector.” And: “Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.1 percent.” (“Union members summary,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010.)

Nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure out why: Because public-sector unions have learned how to barter union dues for statist political support, and the WEA hardly qualifies as an exception in that category. WEA money flows to the political hacks most willing to support the ongoing scam of unionized membership, as with the WEA’s support of Democrat Mike Massie in the 2010 elections. And that’s a surprise?

Moving on, Mr. Svigel also had some negative things to say about Wyoming’s status as a “right to work for less state,” but they weren’t really printable.

Yes, Wyoming - along with 21 other states - is a “right to work” state, which means: Sorry, unions cannot by law accrue the monopolistic “closed shop” powers they enjoy throughout the rest of the United States, whereby they cram their ridiculously overblown demands down employers’ throats whether those businesses like it or not. And that’s a problem? Cry me a river.

What Mr. Svigel won’t bother to tell you is that by any economic indicator you care to name, “right to work” states consistently outperform their “non” brethren: In growth for non-farm private-sector employees from 1995-2005, for instance, the American Legislative Council’s research determined that “right to work” states scored 12.6 percent, over twice the 6 percent score for the “nons.” (“Rich states, poor states,” ALEC, 2009.)

And, when ranking all 50 states according to five different measurements of economic growth, nine of the top 10 (including Wyoming in fourth place) were “right to work” states. Oops. Another bogus union claim blown out of the water by the truth.

And, finally, amongst all the rest of his distortions, Mr. Svigel claims that “teacher pay is woefully low.” Really? According to documentation posted on the Wyoming State Legislature’s website, the average Wyoming teacher salary is $57,424, translating into $59,149 for the “12-month comparable wage.” (Dr. Lori Taylor, “Putting teachers in context: A comparable wage analysis of Wyoming teacher salaries,” 2010.)

And, after thoroughly analyzing the data, Dr. Taylor concludes: “Teacher salaries in Wyoming are high not only with respect to teacher salaries in other states, but also with respect to non-teacher salaries in Wyoming.” So much for the “woefully low” noise.

So, for the rest of the critics, how about we stick to the facts instead of mouthing off with lies? Or is it simply the truth about the WEA that you folks fear and seek to hide?

--

Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com.

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Nice one. It's a good thing you mention your military background. :D in case they have unfriendly ideas.

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Are you sure that you're interpreting Dr. Taylor's study properly? Rather than indicating what teachers would make if they worked the whole year, I think she is reporting the average 12-month salary for comparable non-teachers (comparable in education, I guess -- I couldn't find it in her paper). She wrote in that study,

Assuming that the appropriate frame of reference is days worked, and that non-educators typically work 250 days a year (5 days a week * 50 weeks) while Wyoming teachers typically work 185 contract days, the comparable baseline salary [to the average college graduate's] would have been $35,399 ($47,836*185/250).

The time-adjusted, so called comparable salary is much less. But what she quotes in the graph is the "comparable wage" -- which may be an unfortunately similar phrase which means, "The average wage earned in the private sector by a comparable worker." My evidence is found in her summary:

Dr. Taylor says,

Starting salaries for teachers exceed the 12-month salaries of comparable non-teachers in most Wyoming school districts, and the average salary for teachers in Wyoming is 97 percent of the average 12-month salary for comparable non-teachers. There are two districts where average teacher salaries are lower than the 10-month salaries of comparable non-teachers, but those districts employ less than 0.6 percent of Wyoming teachers.
$57,424 divided by $59,149 is 97%. In other words, based on the time they actually work, there are only two districts where teachers would make better money in a private job (on average). And in most districts, they make more than comparable workers in the private sector. Indeed, I think the real situation is even more ridiculous than you wrote (believe it or not!).

Teachers are GROSSLY overpaid in your state -- and if you extend their salary to a full year and factor in benefits, I would imagine your average teacher would have to make something roughly equivalent to $70,000 to be earning the same amount per time worked. Teachers in Wyoming make more than chemists, architects, and accountants when their salaries are prorated -- and it's close without!! I'm stupified that anyone could say that teachers are underpaid in Wyoming of all places.

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Teachers are GROSSLY overpaid in your state -- and if you extend their salary to a full year and factor in benefits, I would imagine your average teacher would have to make something roughly equivalent to $70,000 to be earning the same amount per time worked. Teachers in Wyoming make more than chemists, architects, and accountants when their salaries are prorated -- and it's close without!! I'm stupified that anyone could say that teachers are underpaid in Wyoming of all places.

Public schools are coercive schools, using funding extorted by force and coercing the presence of a captive student audience. In a rational context, anything they get paid is being overpaid.

The problem is that the existence of public schools and often dismally bad teachers had given a bad name to teachers per se. $70K/year is not grossly overpaying a competent teacher at any level. $1/year is too much for an incompetent one - indeed they actively cause large-scale damage rather than providing a benefit. It should not be an issue of any sort because the government has no business running schools.

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The time-adjusted, so called comparable salary is much less. But what she quotes in the graph is the "comparable wage" -- which may be an unfortunately similar phrase which means, "The average wage earned in the private sector by a comparable worker." My evidence is found in her summary:
Sorry, I just realized this is very unclear -- I meant to say that the salary a teacher would earn, if she earned at the same RATE as a year-round worker of comparable skill, would be MUCH less. This is what I believe the author is calling "comparable salary." That is, if you had two identical workers, one working as a teacher and the other as a year-round worker, and the latter made $12 a year, the "comparable salary" of the former would be $10, since the average private worker works 12/10ths as much as the teacher in per year.

Your ~$59,000 figure was from a table in the study, but that table used something called "comparable wage," which I think is the wage earned by a comparable worker. In other words, the average teacher actually makes around $57,000 at her job, while the average year around worker with a similar education makes around $59,000. This shows us that non-teaching workers are only making $2,000 for their extra two months of work on average, since teachers work about 65 days less per year. Then there is a third column in the study, which just prorates the wages of these workers for the time school teachers actually work (e.g. $50,000 - 2/12 * 50,000). This column shows us that only in two smallish counties do teachers make less than their private enterprise counterparts when accounting for time actually worked, although I don't believe that this takes into account health and other benefits. Sorry if I was unclear before!

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Public schools are coercive schools, using funding extorted by force and coercing the presence of a captive student audience. In a rational context, anything they get paid is being overpaid.

The problem is that the existence of public schools and often dismally bad teachers had given a bad name to teachers per se. $70K/year is not grossly overpaying a competent teacher at any level. $1/year is too much for an incompetent one - indeed they actively cause large-scale damage rather than providing a benefit. It should not be an issue of any sort because the government has no business running schools.

Of course this is true. Good teachers should (and would) make hundreds of thousands and bad teachers shouldn't have jobs. I agree completely.

In the meantime, I think it is absolutely proper to fight egregious irrationality, such as siphoning off good minds to toil in bureacracy with wages higher than private companies can afford to pay, since the ever-increasing taxes required to pay for those wages have prevented them from hiring.

Would you object if all postal workers were paid $100,000 a year? A million? Or would you say that there is nothing new to say, except they've always been overpaid, since it's an improper function of government?

Are the members of our military overpaid, since they use funding extorted by force?

While government does do perform these functions, it is rational to support them being done as well as possible, with as little waste and intrusion as possible.

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The time-adjusted, so called comparable salary is much less. But what she quotes in the graph is the "comparable wage" -- which may be an unfortunately similar phrase which means, "The average wage earned in the private sector by a comparable worker." My evidence is found in her summary:
Sorry, I just realized this is very unclear -- I meant to say that the salary a teacher would earn, if she earned at the same RATE as a year-round worker of comparable skill, would be MUCH less. This is what I believe the author is calling "comparable salary." That is, if you had two identical workers, one working as a teacher and the other as a year-round worker, and the latter made $12 a year, the "comparable salary" of the former would be $10, since the average private worker works 12/10ths as much as the teacher in per year.

Your ~$59,000 figure was from a table in the study, but that table used something called "comparable wage," which I think is the wage earned by a comparable worker. In other words, the average teacher actually makes around $57,000 at her job, while the average year around worker with a similar education makes around $59,000. This shows us that non-teaching workers are only making $2,000 for their extra two months of work on average, since teachers work about 65 days less per year. Then there is a third column in the study, which just prorates the wages of these workers for the time school teachers actually work (e.g. $50,000 - 2/12 * 50,000). This column shows us that only in two smallish counties do teachers make less than their private enterprise counterparts when accounting for time actually worked, although I don't believe that this takes into account health and other benefits. Sorry if I was unclear before!

I'm not sure time is a good measure of success here. A teacher working 10 hours a week can easily justify $70k+, if he spends them teaching...

Jim Simons (an exceptional mathematician who later used his brain to become a billionaire and one of the most respected men in the hedge fund industry) used to say that it is no wonder there are no good teachers of mathematics. Any teacher who possesses the skillset to teach mathematics properly will find ample, much more lucrative employment elsewhere.

I have witnessed this here in Switzerland, where private schools fight each other for the most brilliant teachers. Even a middle-class-targeted, run of the mill school will pay its teachers upwards of 150k USD (although to be fair, they need to speak 4 languages fluently). Is it any wonder that Swiss schools are the location of choice for the world's "movers and shakers" to send their children, beating even those stalwarts of exceptional education as the British Public Schools (as defined by the Public School Act)?

The issue is not the number but the method. A teacher on $20k for a 60 hour week is overpaid if she stands there and parrots the party line. A teacher on $200k for a 20 hour week is underpaid if he creates even 5 John Galts.

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The issue is not the number but the method. A teacher on $20k for a 60 hour week is overpaid if she stands there and parrots the party line. A teacher on $200k for a 20 hour week is underpaid if he creates even 5 John Galts.

Exactly.

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In the meantime, I think it is absolutely proper to fight egregious irrationality, such as siphoning off good minds to toil in bureacracy with wages higher than private companies can afford to pay, since the ever-increasing taxes required to pay for those wages have prevented them from hiring.

I don't think arguing over the salaries is nearly fundamental enough. It already grants that those teachers should exist qua public school teachers, which is granting the existence of a problem that is enough to singlehandedly guarantee that a very slender chance of America eventually becoming rational instead becomes exactly zero.

Would you object if all postal workers were paid $100,000 a year? A million? Or would you say that there is nothing new to say, except they've always been overpaid, since it's an improper function of government?

The latter.

Are the members of our military overpaid, since they use funding extorted by force?

That is a different issue. The armed forces are one of the few legit. functions of government. That does not justify paying them from extorted funds. Doing so is the ultimate in irony - if their function is to protect individual rights, you don't rationally do it by violating them. As a matter of actual fact, in 2011, Americans are damaged to a far higher degree by Washington than any combination of foreign enemies - including by the fact that Washington *funds* and morally encourages those enemies.

I'll say from what I've read - leaving aside the issue of funding methods - that legitimate members of the armed forces are currently underpaid. (Legitimate meaning, not deployed for example in a cozy place in Europe in a decades old wasteful effort to alleviate the Europeans from the responsibility of defending themselves against the Russians.)

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Nice one. It's a good thing you mention your military background. :D in case they have unfriendly ideas.

Hi Arnold:

Heh heh heh!! If you think THIS one blew the lid off Hell, wait until you see the one I'm gonna post in a few minutes, as soon as I handle these comments.

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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...

Teachers are GROSSLY overpaid in your state -- and if you extend their salary to a full year and factor in benefits, I would imagine your average teacher would have to make something roughly equivalent to $70,000 to be earning the same amount per time worked. Teachers in Wyoming make more than chemists, architects, and accountants when their salaries are prorated -- and it's close without!! I'm stupified that anyone could say that teachers are underpaid in Wyoming of all places.

Hi Adam:

And yet so-called "educators" yammer it all the time. And then run for cover whenever anyone points out that the results are less than satisfactory. Like Hitler's Big Lie, they seem to think that if they repeat it often enough and loud enough that the fools will believe it.

But I've made it one of my personal missions to give the folks of Cheyenne the true facts of the matter, and as long as Reed keeps running me I'll keep blowing their nonsense out of the water with pleasure. :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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The issue is not the number but the method. A teacher on $20k for a 60 hour week is overpaid if she stands there and parrots the party line. A teacher on $200k for a 20 hour week is underpaid if he creates even 5 John Galts.

Bingo. And ONE would be worth the money, actually.

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Why slave away in the salt mines as a teacher? The real money is in being part of the administration. A local district, Falcon District 49 recently bought out the contracts of three staff to the tune of over $750,000. Nice work if you can get it. Spending three quarters of a million dollars to 'save' half a million. Government math would be funny if it weren't so pain inducing.

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I'll say from what I've read - leaving aside the issue of funding methods - that legitimate members of the armed forces are currently underpaid.

I must have misunderstood your argument -- when you listed that, among other grievances, teachers used extorted funds, I thought that was a reason that "anything they get paid is being overpaid." Was I mistaken?

I don't think arguing over the salaries is nearly fundamental enough. It already grants that those teachers should exist qua public school teachers, which is granting the existence of a problem that is enough to singlehandedly guarantee that a very slender chance of America eventually becoming rational instead becomes exactly zero.

I don't understand the last section of the last sentence -- particularly, "granting the existence of a problem that is enough to singlehandedly guarantee that a very slender chance of America eventually becoming rational instead becomes exactly zero." I read it four times and it's not sinking in -- would you reword it?

You're right, though -- the fundamental arguments must be made -- and heard -- to make a difference in the long run. But arguing against particularly virulent government actions is still valuable -- be it affirmative action in state schools or the progressive income tax -- since battling these things back gives us time to convince more people, or, if it can be impaired enough, to live our lives. And I do not agree that arguing against these two issues supports the idea that the state should run schools or that it has the power to tax to begin with -- it simply says that while it does run schools and tax, it should do so in a way that is as benign as possible -- until these institutions can be done away with.

I only hope that short-term tactics will buy us enough time to popularize the proper philosophy.

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And yet so-called "educators" yammer it all the time. And then run for cover whenever anyone points out that the results are less than satisfactory. Like Hitler's Big Lie, they seem to think that if they repeat it often enough and loud enough that the fools will believe it.

Very true! A politician will always get applause if he declares that women, blacks, or teachers are underpaid. I'm a little confused as to how we pick these groups, though -- why is it that I never hear that social workers are underpaid? Why all the hubub about teachers?

Whatever the reason, I'm glad you're keeping an eye on these con artists!

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