If ever the need for school competition was more clearly demonstrated it is with the current teacher contract stand off we are seeing in Nashua. For months now the teachers union and the town government have disagreed over the teachers contract, this long stand off has lead the teachers union to begin doing only the minimum of what their job requires. This means according to the Nashua Telegraph that in some cases teachers are even refusing to write letters of recommendations on behalf of good students in an attempt to get parents to help force the hand of the local government.
Here is a quote from today's story on this:
"With most teachers doing only what's required of them, field trips have been scrapped, after-school activities cancelled, and some parents have said letters of recommendation are not being written for their children."
It's the children suffering here and since the whole idea behind education is to benefit the children I think we need to realize something is seriously wrong with a system that allows situation like this to occur in the first place. If children aren't accepted to colleges becuase of lack of a recomendation letter it could ruin their entire futures. Something to think about!
Personally as a parent, I would stand up for any teacher I see going above and beyond to benefit my children. A good teacher is priceless so I'd be the first to argue good teachers are under paid (as I did in an article found here). But teachers who use the very children they were hired to teach as blackmail to get what they want? That is pathetic and sad and quite frankly shouldn't be tolerated. But what choice as a parent would we have? Pay even more for private school? Sell our homes and move to a new town? Give into the blackmail and back the teachers who are currently harming our children to get their way? Even if their contract demands are 100% justified, their taking it out on the children is NOT. As a parent I find it intolerable that they would stoop to that.
So how do we fix such a broken system? How do we assure situations wont arise in which the children wont be used as pawns in a political stand off as we current see happening?
Free Market! It's the only solution. Government running education creates more and more levels of bureaucracy raising costs of the whole system and leaving teachers under paid and parents without choices.
Teachers who feel they are underpaid could shop around and take jobs elsewhere. Likewise parents who do not see the value for the cost would likewise be able to shop around. Too many parents leaving a school would force that school to pay more to get good teachers or to continue to lose business. We see it with our college system and as a result we have one of the best college systems in the world. Just look how many students from all over the globe come here to study. Another added benefit would be that parents would no longer see systems using their children as pawns. If teachers resorted to the low blow tactics we see in Nashua, using children as the pawns and doing the minimum requirements of their jobs in an effort to force their contracts to go their way, parents rather then seeing their children abused would be able to shop around. And schools that underpay and lose good teachers would also get parents to shop around rather then subject their children to sub par teaching by unqualified teachers.
Everyone, teachers, parents and students would benefit. In our current system, as we plainly see, no one benefits.
Here are a couple facts that help paint some perspective on the whole story. I will provide them without comment so you can draw your own conclusions.
The average teacher salary in NH in 2004 was $42,881. In 2004, the average teacher salary in Nashua was $43,969.
According to the Department of Education the numbers for 2006-2007 school year is NH average = $46,701 and Nashua average = $47,818.
If the average salary increases at the rate listed in the original telegraph article Nausha's average teacher salary in 2011 would be $56,472. And assuming a rate of inflation of 3% each year the NH average salary would increase to $48,263.
Let's also look at the over all school spending which I examined once in the earlier article I wrote found here and question if it is the teachers themselves who are over paid.
The idea is a baby sitter gets $5 an hour ($10 if they are really good).
And since teachers only actually have the kids in the room 6 hours they should only be paid for 6 hours.
And they don't work a full year so only 180 days worth of pay.
Average class is 20 to 25 kids so let's call it 22.
So do the math with me... $5 an hour X 6 hours a day X 180 days a year means each parent would be responsible to pay $5,400 a year.
Now multiply that $5,400 by 22 kids in a classroom and each teacher would be making $118,800 a year. Benefits are roughly $20,000 per full time employee so take home would be $98,800.
Even if parents pay $1,000 more for books and transportation costs, heck how about $2,000 more for such things the cost per student still falls far below the nearly $10,000 per student we're paying today and teachers earn FAR less then $98,800 a year. Most administrators don't even make that much.
Instead teacher earn on average around $45,000. Add in the $20,000 in benefits and that's $65,000. Break that out by 22 kids and it's just about $3000 per year per kid. Yet we're paying close to $10,000 per year per kid in this state.
After reading the facts can anyone seriously argue that we need MORE government bureaucracy in our education system?