Well, an A-. In her March 2nd letter in Inland papers, "Don't blame teachers", Theresa A. correctly stated several important facts. I am assuming she is a teacher, which makes her forthright statements very refreshing. Over the last 30 years, governments (state and federal) did "give more and more of the state budget pie to other programs, especially social programs." Teachers are not solely to blame for the budget crisis.
However, I would like to offer some margin notes. First, these social entitlement increases were not simply 'possible because of prosperity' as she seems to imply. Rather, they were increasingly hidden in bills or openly forced through, despite the Constitution and will of the people. L.A. spends $1.6 billion annually (their numbers) just on feeding and educating illegal alien children. Just imagine all the other programs and other jurisdictions. The prosperity occurred despite the unlawful misappropriations, and only became painfully obvious when all that dead weight finally sank the boat in 2008.
Second, while most teachers (and firefighters and cops) are honorable public servants and not 'milking' the system, they now work for unions, not local taxpayers and the unions are largely to blame. It is worse(especially in public safety*) in the East than in California. These unions spend hundreds of millions on advertising, lobbying, etc and still enrich their non-productive union bosses. They also organize Wisconsin-style protests, paying protesters and arranging for bogus doctors' notes to further defraud their districts out of sick pay. Also, Theresa's assumed "$100,000" salary sounds fair, until you remember that teaching has a 9-month year, making it a $133,333 annual pay scale. Pretty opulent.
Unions themselves do have a purpose and had more decades ago, but over the years regulations have been enacted making most safety and condition issues a matter of law, not collective bargaining. The rest can now be set by employers, with workers selecting where they want to work. It is important to remember that Progressive Socialist President F.D.R. and union pioneer George Meany (and his colleagues) agreed that unions and collective bargaining were unworkable and dangerous in public service. Unions should be able to donate, endorse and lobby, but giving money to their elected official 'employers' (overwhelmingly [D]) creates a major conflict of interest.
President Obama agrees, despite his anti-state rhetoric. Wisconsin's proposed legislation (tied up by A.W.O.L., pro-union, Democratic legislators) doesn't address private industry unions at all, and only seeks to limit public employee's collective bargaining of health care and retirement issues that have bankrupted the state (they have not been paying anything toward their benefits; do you?). Obama knows that they would then be closer to federal employees, who do not have collective bargaining. No one has proposed "busting" or banning public unions.
Meanwhile, union protests get more and more like those of Greece, Spain, Portugal, England and other European Socialist states: disruptive, trashy, destructive, threatening (if not violent), fraudulent, ignoring the law and will of the people, and oblivious to fiscal reality. They've been at it a while.
Teachers (and other public servants) deserve to be free from the union gorilla living off their efforts and corrupting their profession. Americans deserve to have their school taxes, as Theresa tells us, spent on teaching.
[*In fairness, I have to point out that most western (especially California) cops never walk out or campaign on duty or in uniform, and commonly only seek "median" pay as compared to other departments. While a few "milk" the system to pile up benefits, many voluntarily deferred on pay raises or benefits as soon as the economy collapsed, in order to take pressure off their Cities and all of them have always contributed far more toward their health care and retirement benefits than the Wisconsin unions are being asked to do. They have bargaining Associations rather than unions. This is also generally true of the western firefighters I am aware of]
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