July 27, 2004
WEA Delenda Est
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has chronicled the recent crimes and misdeeds of the Washington Education Association in its series "Marysville Teacher Strike - Lessons Learned".
Read all five installments (about one page each) --
1: "Washington's courts repeatedly rule that teacher strikes are illegal"
2: "Attorney General’s poor advice prolongs strike" [that would be the same Attorney General who now wants to be governor]
3: "WEA’s real objective: Survival!"
4: "WEA harms children and teachers"
5: "WEA pressures districts to ignore state salary law"
After you finish reading the series, please come back and post a comment and explain to me: (1) what important benefits the WEA offers the people of Washington? and (2) why we should permit the WEA to skim $700+ off the salary of every public teacher in the state?
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 27, 2004 09:54 AM
You can thank John Dewey and the Prussian model of common schooling, combined with early twentieth century collectivization trends in labor for the start of all this. Add in a sprinkling of licensing requirements from officially approved Teaching Colleges, and you have the makings of a goverment sanctioned monopoly.
Now, of course, it's spiralling out of control, especially once Johnson's Great Society appeasement technique in the form of the Primary and Secondary Education bill in 1965 got the federal government involved in doling out ever-increasing amounts of cash.
The lure of centralized power of ever-concentrated control over the hearts and minds of future generations is too appealing for our betters to ignore, sadly and to our wallet's and our children's detriment.
1. What important benefits the WEA offers the people of Washington: well, I don't know about the people of Washington, but WEA members are themselves people of Washington, and it certainly offers them important benefits. Indirectly, it also benefits members' families, and the people they spend their enhanced income with, such as their local groceries, newspaper deliverers, streetwalkers, etc.
2. Why we should even permit it to exist: er, because we're a free country, and we believe in the freedom of association, even when people choose to associate in order to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us? We shouldn't give in to their demands, but we can't prevent them from getting together to make those demands without becoming a dictatorship.
Fair enough. I should have clarified the question to ask "why should we permit it to receive a mandatory $700+ chunk out of every public teacher's salary?" and I've updated it accordingly.
The WEA represents teachers in our state the same way mobsters used to represent shop owners. It's the old "buy our insurance or you'll need it" model. Technically teachers do have a choice: They can pay the union or find another career.
Teachers in our state pay an average of $759 each year to union officials. That gets divied up by the union's local, regional, state and national affiliates. All told, union officials take about $55 million a year just from Washington teachers.
Many teachers tolerate the union because they want protection from frivolous lawsuits. Guess how much the annual union-provided liability insurance policy costs? About $4.07 per teacher.
Teacher contracts are negotiated by local union officials (with some input from the regional affiliate) once every three years. That means each teacher pays $2,277 in dues for each contract. Rather pricey.
Meanwhile, average compensation (salary + benefits) for WEA staff is $109,591 a year, and the union has more lobbyists in Olympia than any other special interest group in the state.
Wonder what the union's real priorities are?
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Look: here's a comment from a real, live public school teacher. I support the WEA completely. The WEA, among many other functions, advocates for public education. That, right now, is a pretty lonely voice in the wilderness.
At my school this year, we laid off teachers. We're looking at laying off more next year. If we teachers want to pay for an advocacy group to preserve education, why not ?
Why aren't folks questioning the salaries paid to lobbyists for roads, for defense contracting, for auto dealerships ? Those costs are of course folded into the costs of goods and services, and so are "invisible". But they're there.
Public education is a huge enterprise run at a huge bargain. It's also a cheap target. I urge those of you who want to criticize public institutions to find something more worthy of your time. Like the US energy policy, or $ 200 billion for the Iraq "war" (in the Seattle Times today)