We believe that public school teachers should be well-paid. However, the reality is that teachers as a group are overpaid. Here’s why:
Teacher pay is a large part of our tax burden
Public schools are funded by taxes. This includes local taxes in the form of property taxes, as well as state and federal taxes. Public schools are notorious for overspending, especially on teacher salaries and benefits which account for about 80% of a school’s total budget. In fact, studies have shown that in the past few decades, public school teachers have enjoyed increases in salaries and benefits that are several times more that those received by the private sector (those that are paying the taxes and therefore paying the salaries and benefits of the public school teachers). The situation has gotten to the point where private citizens (taxpayers) can no longer afford their property taxes and struggle with state and federal taxes, while public school teachers are continuing to get pay raises that are multiple times more than what private sector workers get. We can no longer afford the salaries and benefits that these public school teachers get.
Teacher pay is at the foundation of our current pension crisis
You may be aware that we in Illinois have a huge financial crisis at the state level. The largest issue by far that has caused this crisis is the pensions of state employees, mostly public school teachers. That is because those high salaries are used to calculate the outrageously generous pensions for retired teachers. Many will say that this pension crisis was caused by the state legislature that did not properly fund the pension system. However, research has shown that even if the pension system was fully funded, it would still not be enough to cover the costs of the pensions being drawn. The real costs come from over 130 perks in public school teacher benefits since the 1970s with no increase in the pension contributions from teachers.
Taxpayers are NOT getting what they are paying for
A third issue is that student achievement levels and high school graduation rates continue to erode in spite of all the money going to public schools. In other words, public school teachers are getting paid very generously and are enjoying extremely generous job perks, yet they are doing a mediocre job at best. We are NOT getting our moneys’ worth! (I am speaking in generalities here; there are some very good dedicated teachers in the system). The public school establishment would argue that student achievement scores are not a good indicator of a job well done by teachers, and that teacher salaries should not be linked to student achievement. In fact, the State of Illinois recently announced that it would be seeking a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements that are based on student achievement scores. However, there are 3 other criteria that reveal conclusively that our public schools are NOT doing a good job:
- Colleges and universities have found that an increasing number of incoming freshmen don’t have the basic skills necessary for the college level. They therefore have to take remedial courses to make up for the education they didn’t receive in the K-12 system,
- Illinois employers are also finding that more and more job applicants are lacking in skills to do basic job duties. Many such employers therefore have to conduct remedial classes in basic subjects in order to help these applicants obtain such skills,
- Even the military has recently reported that more and more new recruits are unable to pass their basic skills entrance exams.
The big culprit in our view is the teachers’ union that protects bad teachers, demands more and more in salaries and benefits, and strongly opposes any accountability for their union members.
We could also discuss the content of what is being taught in our public schools. The current unionized system of public education has grown in such a way as to challenge and erode parental rights regarding the appropriateness of what a child is taught, including sex education matters, the gay agenda, creationism vs. evolution, controversial literature, etc.
Our purpose is to bring such matters to the attention of parents and taxpayers, in order to create more public demand for real reform. We want affordable schools that are responsive to the values of students’ families. We believe that such reform is impossible as long as the public teachers’ union is allowed to dominate the system. That is because the unions represent the union members, not the taxpayers.
The first priority when it comes to education is QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL. However, union dominance has overtaken our npublic school system and has turned it into a job machine for its union members. The ones that really pay are the kids, who get cheated out of an adequate education and get left with a huge deficit hole in this state.