Bill Zettler is a prolific writer and an author who is known throughout Illinois for his gathering of information through FOIA requests and then including this material in the excellent articles he writes and distributes to many in school districts across Illinois. Zettler's articles are posted at Champion News: www.championnews.net/bill-zettler/
The following article by Bill Zettler, written in January of 2012, is well worth a read in light of the ongoing teacher strike by high school teachers in LF District 115. It might not be the solution that many readers will be in tune with, but it does make some sense. http://www.championnews.net/2012/01/20/with-75000-unemployed-teachers-in-illinois-why-don%E2%80%99t-we-just-replace-any-that-go-on-strike/
With 75,000 Unemployed Teachers in Illinois, Why Don’t We Just Replace Any That Go On Strike?
There is perhaps no more frustrating action against the public than teachers’ strikes. While teachers have the advantage of being home with their kids every day after school, school holidays, and summer vacations and even during strikes non-teacher parents have to scramble for kid-coverage during those very same periods.
Unfortunately here in Illinois the news is replete with stories of strikes by teacher unions against IL school districts. And no wonder teachers strike since they cannot be fired for going on strike and if they do strike they get back-pay for any time missed.
The Avoca District 37 example.Avoca District 37 is a prime example of how the teacher unions use strikes or the threat of strikes to completely control the public education system. By previously threatening a strike in 2002, Avoca’s teachers’ union paved the way for big contracts every year since.
In a democratic society public schools should be controlled by parents and taxpayers not by unelected public employees. But in Illinois the system is held hostage by a political process that has allowed teacher unions to make political contributions in excess of $50 million dollars thus assuring themselves guaranteed jobs (tenure) at above market prices. They can’t lose their jobs by striking so why not do it? It is better that students, parents and taxpayers suffer than teachers not get what they want. Avoca’s September 2010 contract included 35% raises for teachers over the next 5 years as shown below.
One of the complaints from the union is teacher salaries at other districts are higher therefore District 37 salaries should match or exceed those. Let me suggest a different solution: teachers should go and apply at any school district they perceive would be a better place to work. Of course the teachers know that every suburban school district has 100′s of resumes from those 80,000 unemployed teachers and they would have little or no chance of getting hired. So teachers leaving one school to go to another for a higher salary are an empty but effective threat.
Let’s put to rest the myth that teacher turnover causes teacher shortages.
So it is easy to see that in 2010 we created 30,000 new certified teachers(44,000 counting substitutes) when we only need about 12,000 leaving 18,000 unemployed but eager to teach.
Over the last five years we created about 140,000 certified teachers (not counting substitutes) for about 60,000 available jobs leaving 80,000 unemployed.
So much for the “myth” that teacher turnover leads to teacher shortages.
How much do other teachers make?
And the 75,000 unemployed teachers doesn’t count the pool of experienced private sector teachers making an average of $38,000/yr.40% less than the $65,000 average for Illinois teachers and 55% less than the $101,000 average at District 211 in Palatine. And private sector teachers have neither tenure nor multi-milliondollar pensions.
Overpaying public employees does not serve the common good.
It makes no sense to pay a Phys-ed teacher $203,000/yr. and a pension of $6 million like we did in 2011 (see Chapter 4.8 “Top 100 Teacher Salaries for 2011”) when the certified teacher unemployment rate is over 35% (80,000 out of 210,000 total). Obviously a lot of people would like to have a teacher’s job and would be willing and able to do it for much less than $203,000. Why should taxpayers have to pay a premium for a service that is available in the private sector for a fraction of what the government supplies it for? If taxation’s purpose is to provide for the common good then what common good ensues from overpaying for a public service?
In recent years we have also seen a $196,000 art teacher salary, $100,000 annual salary increases for superintendents and 40 administrators whose salaries increased more than the median income of a full-timeIllinoisworker. By the way, that $196,000 was a 22% increase over his 2007 salary of $161,000, which was an 18% increase over 2006′s $136,000 which was a 16% increase over 2005′s $117,000 for a total of $81,000 in increases over 3 years.
This Art teacher’s pension will start at $114,000/yr. and during the 27 years of his expected lifetime he will collect more than $4.4 million in pension payments. How do those numbers compare to your salary increases over the last 3 years? And how does that $4 million pension stack up to your 401K?
Make teacher strikes illegal.
The right to strike by any public employee should be limited. Perhaps the teachers should lose their tenure if they strike. How many of the 19,000 K-12 employees making more than $10,000/mo. would go on strike with the threat of tenure loss hanging over their heads? Not many would be my guess.
Let’s take back the schools from the teacher unions. Or alternatively let’s give more of our students to the Diocese of Chicago via vouchers and save more than 50% of our education costs.