As the current wave of “reform” sweeps through our public education system, one aspect of the reform seems evident and that is “it is all about the teachers.” Whether school kids pass or fail, it is the teacher’s fault, those over paid, underqualified, pampered employees sucking on the government’s teat. It has nothing to do with the number of parents a child has, or whether they live in poverty or are homeless, or their family has drug or violence in their home; it’s just about the teachers. The reformers say that teachers should only be paid for performance and be stopped from benefiting from the largesse of inept local politicians.
So, what is really going on?
According to EPI Brief No. 298 “Recent trends represent only a small part of a much larger long-run decline in the relative pay of teachers. Census data shows that the pay gap between female public school teachers and comparably educated women—for whom the labor market dramatically changed over the 1960-2000 period—grew by nearly 28 percentage points, from a relative wage advantage of 14.7% in 1960 to a pay disadvantage of 13.2% in 2000. Among all (male and female) public school teachers, the relative wage disadvantage grew almost 20 percentage points over the 1960-2000 period. (Allegretto, Corcoran, and Mishel 2008, p.7)” \
Say what? In 1960 female teachers received pay almost 15% higher than other women of the same education level but by the year 2000 it was almost 15% lower? Yes, and similar results are shown for male teachers. Teacher’s pay has been slowly being eroded for decades.
But, but, . . . they say that greedy teachers are ruining state budgets! They do, don’t they. A remarkable case of greed, don’t you think? So greedy that they negotiated their way, through those awful teacher’s unions, to an almost 30% wage decline (relative to wages they could get elsewhere) over that time period. Now that’s greedy.
But, but, . . .
Stop sputtering and ask yourself one question: who benefits if teachers are disempowered? (Think of Wisconsin as an example, where teachers’ unions were disempowered while businesses were given a billion dollar tax cut.) Yes, you do have to follow the money and money is power. Teachers’ unions have historically supported liberal political candidates with their money and their bodies. Who benefits from teachers’ being afraid to speak up?
Well, it ain’t Satan, Church Lady! But the current wave of public education reform, focused upon all of the “bad teachers” who are not doing their jobs and need to be fired, is financed by foundations funded by corporations and corporations themselves who have co-opted the cooperation of the federal Department of Education to shill for them.
You didn’t know, you say? You do now.