Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 

SAEN: Mouthpiece for the teacher's union

Legislation pending to resolve the state's school funding issue includes a provision for an across-the-board (no merit-based pay here!) teacher pay increase of $1,000. Of course, as reported today by SAEN reporter Peggy Fikac, that's not good enough for the teacher's union.
Richard Kouri of the Texas State Teachers Association, noting senators' frequently stated goal of getting the state to the national average in teacher salaries, said: "Obviously, we're underwhelmed. We're over $6,000 below the national average. If the plan is $1,000 every biennium, I think actually we just get further behind."
Sure enough, according to the American Federation of Teachers (the national teacher's union), the national average salary is $45,771 and the Texas average is only $39,972.

Now, I'm not going to quibble with Kouri's statement that "we are over $6,000 below the national average", when it's really only $5,799...after all, he's a lobbyist, and their job is to twist facts to support their clients. But there is a much more obvious hole in this comparison: cost of living. As even the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) admits
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) survey uses an interstate cost-of-living index to adjust the average Texas teacher salary in 2001-02 from 29th in the nation to 16th.
In other words, Texas is actually far above the average in terms of purchasing power for teacher salaries. CPPP tries to spin this, rather pathetically:
But even the AFT cost-of-living-adjusted Texas teacher salary is only $44,110, below the U.S. average of $44,367.
So, adjusted for the cost of living, Texas teachers are short a whopping $257 per year. And the current bill is going to give them an additional $1,000...and the usual suspects are whining for more, to the tune of $3,000 per year.

Here's a deal, Mr. Kouri: we'll give you the $1,000 more - on the condition that none of the salary increase results in increased union membership dues from teachers. After all, if they are so poorly compensated by us stingy taxpayers, they need to keep every dollar they can. If that were the condition, we'd see how quickly the teacher's union goons would shut up.

As for the SAEN? They are consistently, incessantly calling for higher teacher salaries, without regard for the fact that Texas, when adjusted for the cost of living, is already within the national average - and certainly without regard for studies which show a lack of correlation between teacher pay and student success. After all, the pride of the teacher's union, the Number One in teacher pay is...Washington, DC - which has by far the worst educational record in the nation. We would hope that in future articles, Ms. Fikac finds someone other than a teacher's union lobbyist to quote on salaries.
Comments:
Ditto!

Here is the real reason why education is going right down the crapper...there is absolutely no monetary incentive to be a teacher. Thus, a college student like me majoring in math has to make a choice. Is the personal satisfaction i would get teaching worth more to me and my family than the oppertunity cost of making 60,000 (starting pay) as a software writer for cyrpto systems? For me the answer remains no. Maybe i would do it for 40,000. But certainly not 31,000.

I think raising teacher salaries is a great incentive to lure people into the education trade, but as you pointed out that money needs to go to the teachers and not the union. Modern Unions have ruined every sector of the economy that they are evolved in (great example is AUTO industry).

Listen folks, you want to increase the quality of education your students recieve? Start off by increasing the quality of people who are teachers. That is real "incentive" pay.
 
I think the previous commenter is right on target with the idea that increased teacher salaries will generally result in attracting higher quality candidates and thus better teachers. Obviously, quality of teachers is not the only factor in quality of education, so that is not the only problem. But it is an important factor.

Teachers are not paid well in this country, so I don't think it is something to be proud of that Texas is about average in teacher pay.

Anyway, about the article, I think it is perfectly fair to quote a representative of teachers on their reaction to the proposed salary increase. And the quote is in paragraph 12, so it is well buried.

Plenty of other people, including several Republicans, are also quoted in the article. Is it also a mouthpiece for Lt Gov David Dewhurst, who is quoted in paragraph 7?
 
Anyway, about the article, I think it is perfectly fair to quote a representative of teachers on their reaction to the proposed salary increase.

You mean to say, it is perfectly fair to quote ONLY a representative of teachers...

If you really do consider that "perfectly fair", then we have no basis for discussion.

Plenty of other people, including several Republicans, are also quoted in the article. Is it also a mouthpiece for Lt Gov David Dewhurst, who is quoted in paragraph 7?

None of the other people quoted are talking about teacher salaries. The only quotes regarding teacher salaries are in favor, from the union official and from two Democrats supporting that official.
 
I am not going to defend 'journalism by selected quotes', since I find the practice frequently lazy and almost always uninformative.

Perhaps the article would have been more even-handed if it had included a quote from someone who thought the $1,000 raise was perfectly adequate and also one from someone else who thought it was too much.

But the article also neglects to include any balancing quotes to those of Republicans Shapiro, Dewhurst, and Grusendorf on the issues they are talking about.

So if you believe the writer was negligent in one instance, she was also in all these other instances. The resulting article is not good, but it isn't acting as a mouthpiece for any particular side of a debate.

As a Democrat, I would be quite happy to see prominent GOP quotes decrying teacher salary raises, or being satisfied with mediocre teacher pay. I suspect that wouldn't exactly be a politically-winning position.

So perhaps Republican supporters should be happy that this journalist failed to seek out such quotes.
 
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