Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Quote of the Day

I was talking about this to my friend Scott this morning and he said something along the lines about it being sad that teachers need a union to represent them in order to get paid a decent wage. I completely agree with Scott. Among all of our country's public employees, teachers are the ones that get screwed over most often and it is very sad that they are constantly getting the bone when it comes to budget cuts.

Teachers? Seriously? You want to take money away from teachers? Aren't they financially screwed enough as it is? These are the people that are shaping our children's future and directly related, our country's future. Are these really the people that you want to take money away from? Ridiculous.

-- Steve Long from the post Sounding Off on the Wisconsin Protests

Amen and amen.

16 comments:

Man of the West said...

Teachers? Seriously? You want to take money away from teachers? Aren't they financially screwed enough as it is?

Okay, I have to admit to being really curious.

I have read and heard sources saying that the average combined pay and benefits package for Wisconsin teachers is about 90 grand per year.

Even Politifact gives average pay and benefits data for Wisconsin teachers as almost 77 thousand a year.

My question is this: exactly how much more in pay and benefits would Wisconsin teachers have to make each year before the two of you felt like they were no longer being "screwed"?

Dave said...

I can’t speak for Steve, but I’m pretty sure he was referring to their base salary pay. Yes teachers have great benefits (and they should) but their actual salary is generally very low and that’s the problem. Sure having excellent benefits are wonderful, but that doesn’t really help you in the paycheck to paycheck moment of paying bills and putting food on the table. And I’m sorry but teachers should be paid more than most folks in the private sector. What they do is extremely important, far more important than some middle management or sales gig.

Otter Limits said...

That is essentially the point I was trying to make. Sure they have good benefits. I am sure, however, that they got those great benefits after years and years and years of negotiations with the state. I'm am fairly certain that they were not just given those benefits right at the beginning.

They still don't get paid worth a crap and that is the point.

I have good benefits but I don't get paid worth a crap either.

I'm putting myself in the teachers shoes in this matter. I think that if I had just finished 4 years (at least) of college and then (as is the case of most teachers) completed 2 years or more to get an advanced degree, I would expect a pretty good wage. However, teachers, as I have stated, don't get paid worth a crap despite the fact that they are that well-educated. The same person in the private sector with that kind of educational pedigree would expect to be raking in the big bucks.

So imagine if you were making less than $30,000 a year, married with children and you were told that because the state needed to make budget cuts, they were going to decrease your pay. At this point, you are living pay check to pay check as it is so cutting your pay is quite a significant life style change.

And, as Dave put it quite nicely, what teachers do is far more important than what some middle manager for a large corporation does. Hell, for that matter, what teachers do, in a lot of ways, is far more important than what our elected officials do. My opinion anyway.

Man of the West said...

You didn't look at the link, did you?

Otter did not cite base pay. He cited starting salary. I am sure that you are aware that they are two different things.

Wisconsin teachers are--according to Politifact, anyway-- averaging 51, 000 dollars a year in salary. Isn't it obvious that if the average is literally more than double the figure for starting pay that Otter cited, there are not very many Wisconsin teachers making starting wages?

I can't help but think that if the two of you are confusing starting pay with base pay, your ideas of whether or not teachers get paid badly may be more than a little skewed, viz, Otter, you apparently seem to be basing your argument on the idea that the teachers in Wisconsin are making less than 30 large per year, when such is simply not the case.

As to whether what teachers do is that important--

Cheez louise, Otter, you have admitted to me in past discussions that you actually felt badly about having to have your children in public schools, but that you had no choice! And now you expect me to take seriously the idea that you have great respect for the same set of folks under whom you did not want your children studying?

Would you take such an argument seriously, if it came from me?

Gentlemen, teachers are seriously overrated. My own family, and millions of other homeschooling families, are living proof that you do not need professional teachers to provide good education K-12.I'm sitting, right now, in the presence of a 21-year-old whom we homeschooled. He is about to graduate this semester with a bachelor's in math and a bachelor's in statistics, straight As in both.
We prepared him for college, not the state. Neither of us have degrees.

Why on earth should any state pay through the nose for results that are, on average, not as good as those achieved at home by interested parents? It certainly doesn't seem to me that teachers are bringing something all that special to the table.

In any event, neither of you two actually answered the question, so I'll repeat it, asking you to bear in mind that we are talking specifically about Wisconsin teachers:

Exactly how much more in pay and benefits would Wisconsin teachers have to make each year before the two of you felt like they were no longer being "screwed"?

Seriously: if 51,264 in salary and and 25,800 in benefits is being "screwed," how high would you, as a taxpayer in Wisconsin, feel obligated to go in order to avoid "screwing" your teachers?

Otter Limits said...

I did look at the link. I just don't trust Fox News all that much. And that big heading on the link that said "Barely True" kind of threw me off too.

Now, as to public schools. I do feel bad that I can't afford private school and I applaud you for taking the effort to educate your children yourself. Kudos to you and your wife.

However, not everybody is willing or able to do that.

The simple fact is, like it or not, public education is not going to go away. Not in our lifetime and probably not even in our grandchildren's lifetime, if ever. With that in mind, it is up to you and I, and Left, and everyone else, to take some ownership and realize that the system needs to be fixed and that taking money away from the teachers is probably not the best start to fix that system. In fact, I would say it is one of the worst ideas I can think of.

I have never, or at least I don't think I have ever, said in any of our previous conversations about public education, that I have no respect for teachers. If I did say that, I retract that statement. I do have great respect for teachers. Their job is hard. I couldn't do it. I wouldn't want to do it. I have great respect for those that go through years of schooling to do a job that they know they will not make a whole lot of money doing.

Like I said, I applaud you for home schooling your children. I couldn't do it. And at this point in time, I can not afford private schools so public education is my only option. So I feel that it is my obligation to make sure that the public system works, or least try to help the public system work.

P.S. I never answered your question about how much is enough because quite honestly, I don't feel it is relevant in this situation. I'm looking at the greater picture. I am not asking that these people start asking for more money. I'm just not supportive of a system that wants to take away their money to fix a failing budget when there are other areas of a state budget they can cut.

Man of the West said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

I too read the link and like Steve I’m dubious of anything put out by Fox News.

To answer your question, if the teachers really are making around $51K then I would say that that is a pretty good salary. I’d prefer to see teachers making around $60-75K plus benefits though. Now before you rip into me let me expand a little. I agree with you that the public school system is broken and needs to be reformed (Bill Bradley laid out a great plan for doing this in his book The New American Story). Once the system is reformed it is my opinion that teachers should be making the $60-75K salary range plus benefits depending on where they live (it would be higher in some areas and lower in others).

Steve and I were actually talking about this yesterday. Essentially anytime there is a budget crisis in a state the first thing on the chopping block is education. That is how teachers are getting screwed. Not just the fact that in states like Oklahoma they make very little in way of salary (around $30K or so), but the fact that nearly every time a state is running out of cash, they almost always seem to go to education first. That is wrong. Things like education, police, fire, and emergency response are some of the last things that should ever be touched in a budget crisis. Why politicians can’t sit down and go through the budget to first look for things that are either wasteful or repetitive is beyond me (see the movie Dave for a reference for how this could be done). Well, actually it’s not beyond me. All politicians seems to use budget crisis’s (is that the right spelling of the plural of crisis?) to push their agenda. Lately we see this in the various different attempts at union busting and cuts to education in the states and attacks on public broadcasting at the fed (and yes the Democrats are just as guilty of this too…these were the examples that popped into my head because they have been in the news a lot lately). It’s no wonder this country is going to Hades in a hand basket when we have leaders like this and a public that continuously re-elects them.

Dave said...

MOTW said: Looked, but apparently didn't read, Otter, as you perhaps unintentionally make clear.

Okay…I’m guilty. I skimmed the article and when I looked at the page I thought it was a Fox News run page. That was my bad.

MOTW said: That seems to be about where we're at. You'll have to pardon me if I regard that as proof positive that you have absolutely no idea how to remedy the situation and ought to leave it to the people that actually live in Wisconsin.

Wow…that was a bit rude wasn’t it? I know that this is a hot button issue for you and it is obvious that you and Otter don’t get along, but geez. 

Let me ask you a question MOTW. If someone sees a situation and knows that there is something wrong but doesn’t know how to fix it, do you believe that he/she should not say anything about the wrongness of it? I’m not sure if I did a good job in framing that question…sorry about that. I ask because that seems to be what you are saying to Steve, that because he doesn’t have an answer to the problem, he shouldn’t express his opinion about the issue. My old boss used to pull this card on me all the time when I would criticize a new policy. He would say that unless I offered a solution then I was just seen as complaining. I called B.S. and here’s why. I may not be able to come up with the solution or know all the ins and outs of how to make it better, but I do know when something is wrong and because of that I should be able to point out that it is wrong and why I hold this opinion. That was those who do know all of the ins and outs can take that information and use it to craft a better solution. I really hope that that makes sense.

Man of the West said...

Had to remove the last comment and add stuff for Dave:)

Looked, but apparently didn't read, Otter, as you perhaps unintentionally make clear.

Politifact was rebutting Fox's figures; the figures I was giving are Politifact's, and the whole reason I gave them to you was that I knew you wouldn't trust Fox!

As to whether the question is relevant, Otter, of course it is! You said that the teachers are "screwed." Presumably there is some way by which you know this. That is, the only way to know whether or not they are "screwed" is to compare what they are making with a known standard. If you don't know how much it would take for them not to be "screwed," it logically follows that you do not, in fact, know that they are "screwed."

"Teachers are screwed, man. They don't make enough."

"How much would be enough, then?"

"Darned if I know! Just not any less, that's all."

That seems to be about where we're at. You'll have to pardon me if I regard that as proof positive that you have absolutely no idea how to remedy the situation and ought to leave it to the people that actually live in Wisconsin.

The bottom line, Otter, is that if the Wisconsin voters don't have an answer to how much it takes for teachers not to be "screwed," the teachers union will provide the answer for them, and ultimately, it is the Wisconsin voter that will be "screwed."

Now, Dave, in the last couple of minutes before I have to leave for work:

Okay…I’m guilty. I skimmed the article and when I looked at the page I thought it was a Fox News run page. That was my bad.

And fairly obviously, Otter did the same thing. That is sad; now I know that the two of you will bluff and pretend to have read and understood something you actually didn't.

Wow…that was a bit rude wasn’t it?

Blunt. I could sugarcoat it, but what's the point?

If someone sees a situation and knows that there is something wrong but doesn’t know how to fix it, do you believe that he/she should not say anything about the wrongness of it?

Of course not, but that is not the situation here; Otter said, and you agreed, that the teachers are "screwed." You at least gave an answer. Otter made it clear that he doesn't actually know what sort of compensation it takes for a teacher not to be "screwed." He therefore does not actually know that teachers being financially "screwed" is a problem.

That is not pointing out a problem. That is pointless blustering.

Otter Limits said...

MOTW said:
"And fairly obviously, Otter did the same thing. That is sad; now I know that the two of you will bluff and pretend to have read and understood something you actually didn't"

Well, first of all, I actually did read the article. I didn't skim shit. And just because I don't trust Fox News doesn't mean I'm going to totally disregard reading over it to see what they have to say. My point about it not being relevant is that it is not looking at the big picture, which is what I'm trying to get at. So quite frankly, I don't really understand how you get obviously out of that.

And while I'm at it on Fox News........uhm...how in the hell would you know that I wouldn't trust Fox? I've never said anything derogatory about Fox News. You are assuming too much in my opinion. Fact is, you know very little about me so let's keep our assumptions to ourselves shall we? Thanks.

My point is, looking at the big picture, yes, teachers are getting screwed all the time. When a state is in a budget crisis, education, particular teacher salaries, are almost the first thing they start looking at cutting. Whether they make $30,000 or $50,000 is irrelevant to my point. The fact that the state is always trying to cut their budget by cutting teacher's salaries is why I am saying they are getting financially screwed.

MOTW said: "Otter made it clear that he doesn't actually know what sort of compensation it takes for a teacher not to be 'screwed."

What? Really? How did I make that clear? Please clear it up for me how I made that clear. You asked how much more in pay and benefits would Wisconsin teachers have to make before the two of you felt like they were no longer being screwed. I said I did not answer that question because it was not relevant to the point that I, myself, was trying to make. That does not sound anything like making it clear I don't know what sort of compensation it takes for them not to be screwed because it isn't relevant. They are being screwed not because of how much they make specifically but because the state is constantly trying to chop their salaries.

But if you want to discuss specific amounts of money I will make it clear I have no idea what a good salary in Wisconsin is. I've never lived in Wisconsin. I do know, however, that their cost of living is higher than that of Oklahoma's. So I do know that $30,000 in Oklahoma will go much further than it would in Wisconsin. So is $50,000 a year enough of a salary in Wisconsin? Hell if I know. I've never lived there and quite honestly have never bothered to research it.

I can tell you for a fact that $30,000 in the Seattle area isn't jack shit and you could barely live on it. In fact, if you are making $30,000 a year in Washington, chances are you are also on food stamps so you can afford to buy groceries. $50,000 is just enough to live comfortably in the Seattle but it is certainly not living high off the hog by any means.

"That is not pointing out a problem. That is pointless blustering."

Really? Do you even know what pointless blustering is? What I've been talking about is not pointless blustering. It's not pointless, I've been trying to make a point the whole flipping time. You just aren't listening. You are so (for lack of a better term) blinded by the fact that you disagree with Dave and I, and by your own disrespect of public education, that you are not seeing my point. You disagree with me, fine, I give less than a shit of whether you disagree with or not. Hundreds of thousands of people I'm sure disagree with me. But to tell me I'm being pointless. Wow.

But no, I do not have a solution to the problem. Sorry I bothered to express my opinion. Won't happen again. (yeah right).

Man of the West said...

You disagree with me, fine, I give less than a shit of whether you disagree with or not.

Sentiment returned. Adieu.

Man of the West said...

On further reflection, I thought that I had better make it clear that I'm not going to be holding anything against you, nor is it my intent to part in anger, but I have concluded that further conversation between us will not be worth the time invested. You have apparently reached the same conclusion.

With that, have a good life.

Otter Limits said...

Let me re-iterate. That phrase of mine that you quoted did not come across quite the way I had intended. The point I was making with that statement was that I understand that you disagree with me on this whole Wisconsin teacher thing, but I was more concerned with the idea that you thought I had no point, not necessarily concerned about the fact that you did disagree with me. If I took it personally everytime someone disagreed with me, I would have left this blogging game long ago.

But I do agree you on your last sentiment. Any further conversation on this matter is probably not worth the time.

Dave said...

Great... Now’s I’ve lost one of the three people who actually leave comments on a regular basis on my blog. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment but I enjoy discussing things with people that I disagree with, as long as it stays civil.

MOTW said: And fairly obviously, Otter did the same thing. That is sad; now I know that the two of you will bluff and pretend to have read and understood something you actually didn't.

Okay…so if I understand this right, you are now completely blowing off everything I have to say because I didn’t completely read, digest, and internalize one link that you provided. Is that correct? That seems a bit extreme to me, especially considering that we have been corresponding through our different blogs for a few years now. I’d like to think that you’d have a higher opinion of me than that. Did I drop the ball on this one? Yes. But in my defense I have been spending very little time online lately (as you can probably tell from my lack of regular posts) and I just didn’t feel like taking the extra time to read that link in detail. I’m sorry for that but I do have other things going on in my life that keep me away from the keyboard. Also I think part of the problem in this discussion was that Otter and I (if I may be so bold to speak for him) weren’t thinking just about the situation in WI but about public education in general.

Again I’m sorry that this discussion got so nasty. There is often a fine line between being blunt and being a jerk and often we don’t realize when we cross it. I hope that you will continue to comment from time to time on my posts MOTW. We may not agree but I enjoy your input and the conversations (even when they make me mad). :o)

Otter Limits said...

MOTW, here is what irritates me about this thread.

I have some impressions. If these are the wrong impressions about you, I apologize. But that does not mean my "impression" is wrong. An impression is the way a person feels about something, not necessarily a fact.

I get the impression that you think you are superior to myself and Dave. I also get the impression that you think that I think I am superior to everyone else and that is simply not the case. I am not arrogant and I do not think I am superior to anyone. If I give off that impression to someone that is certainly not my intention and I apologize if I give off that air about me. (I will state, however, that i do, honestly, consider myself a bit of a music snob. LoL!)

I get the impression that you think because I have an opinion on this subject, that I claim to be an expert. I am an expert in nothing. I know a little bit about some things and I know a little bit more about other things. Come to think of it, that makes me wonder something. How does one become an expert in something? I have some knowledge in certain areas and I have opinions on those certain areas. I base my opinions on my feelings and one certain things that I have read. Mind you, I don't believe everything I read and I don't particularly trust most news media. Personally, I honestly think (think, not know) that the news media in this country is little more than a mouthpiece for the state.

I know there are people out there that know more about these subjects than I do. I have no problems admitting that. But what irritates me is when those people totally discouny my opinion because they ASSUME I know absolutely nothing about the subject.

In this specific example, that is, with the subject we have been discussing here, I do, in fact, no something about the subject. Again, as I stated before, I am no expert on the subject. But I do know some things about it.

For example, I know enough about unions to know that they are not the answer to the workers prayers. But I also know that they have good intentions. I believe (this is opinion by the way) that the problem with the unions (any unions, not just this one) is not the workers themselves. The workers just want a fair wage and decent benefits. The problem is primarily with the union bosses. The labor leaders. They are scared that if the union's collective bargaining rights are taken away, then people will start leaving the union, hence, they will stop paying union dues and that will affect their financial security. In that case, I do not support the union leaders, I support the union workers.

Otter Limits said...

With this thing going on in Wisconsin, from what I understand, from the little bit about it that I have read, the whole thing have to do with removing the collective bargaining rights of the public employees unions. It also has to deal with trying to cut salaries and benefits for those public employees. That is the part I have a problem with. I don't necessarily care whether or not these unions lose their right to strike or whatever you want to call it. Personally, I think it is sad that public employees (teachers, policeman, fire fighters) have to depend on a union to try and get a fair shake. My personal opinion is that if you are a government worker of any sort, the state (or whatever government entity you are working for) should be taking care of you. So again, I don't if these unions lose their right to collective bargaining (I'm not sure if I don't care is the right phrase I'm trying to get at). What I do care about is the idea that they (the state) wants to take money away from these teachers.

As I stated earlier, I don't know how much money it would take for Wisconsin teachers to not be screwed financially. Hell, maybe right now they aren't screwed financially. You could be right. They might be making a decent enough wage now. Again, I don't know what a GOOD wage in Wisconsin is. I've never lived there. If you have, I would appreciate it if you would enlighten me. I personally have never done any research on the subject, mostly because I have no intention of ever moving to Wisconsin so the subject does not interest me. And because I have a really short attention span, I don't bother researching things thoroughly that don't interest me. LoL!

In any case, are they making good money now? Maybe. I don't know. But I am concerned when the state comes in and says because they need to save money, they want to cut these peoples' wages. What about those people? Are they thinking about those people's families? What is that going to do to them? How badly will it affect them? And if they do end up cutting wages, what's to say they won't do it again in the future for some other reason?

Like I said, I'm no expert on these matters. But I do have an opinion. To assume that I know nothing about it at all because I have not poured over the subject for hours and hours leaves me with the impression that you totally discount me opinion and think I'm completely wrong about it. Again, if that is the wrong impression I'm getting about you, sorry.