Friday, February 18, 2011

MSNBC: Wisconsin Teachers Out to Lunch

This morning on the MSNBC show Jansing & Company, they showed an interesting graph on the real financial situation with the teachers in Wisconsin.

According to MSNBC:

- The average single private sector employee pays 18% of the cost of his/her healthcare insurance.

- The average married private sector employee pays 29% of the cost of healthcare insurance for themselves and their family.

- In Wisconsin, teachers only pay 6% of the cost of their healthcare insurance.

Wisconsin has a budget deficit of $3.5 billion. They are constitutionally mandated to balance their budget. To help balance the budget, Governor Walker has proposed to increase the amount teachers contribute to their health insurance premiums from 6% to 12% of the cost. This is still far lower than people in the private sector pay. The teachers's union response? Close the schools, stop educating our kids, and run around carrying signs that equate Governor Walker to Hitler.

The underlying story is that America has among the most under-performing public school systems in the developed world. Last year, American students ranked 25th out of 34 developed countries in Math and Science. American was right in the middle on language skills. It's not a great performance for the students of the greatest country on earth.

Money isn't the problem. America spends more money on education per student than every other country except Switzerland.

Wisconsin teachers earn on average $89,000 a year in salary and benefits. They work less than 9 months of the year. That's $10,000 a month, equivalent to $120,000 a year if they worked full time like the rest of us. That's a fair chunk of change. Quite frankly, great teachers should probably make more than this. That's how to attract great teachers. We need to attract more great teachers. However, we also need to terminate bad teachers. Bad teachers are rarely terminated. Why?

The problem is that the NEA owns the Democrat Party. The NEA uses forced union dues to support Democrat politicians who reciprocate by blocking merit pay for great teachers, Charter Schools (which was the idea of courageous Democrat politicians), and school choice. Of course, any notion that a Principal could terminate a lousy teacher who is destroying your child's future is just not even open for discussion by the NEA and their Democrat protectors.

The McKinsey Global Institute just released a study which showed that America's public sector and especially America's public schools are the among the most unproductive in the developed world. They are also the most resistant to change. McKinsey also faults the U.S. government for creating the most burdensome regulatory climate in the world; not doing it's job in providing a healthy infrastructure that meets our needs; and ignoring our growing energy challenges.

What did The Economist say about McKinsey's conclusions? "Alas, a country which is so good at business is pretty bad at government".

That about sums it up.

This is our challenge.

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