1) NEA Wants to Save Social
Security… But Not That Badly. In its latest effort
against altering the Social Security system, the National Education
Association will contribute $200,000 to Americans United to Protect Social
Security, a 501(c)(4) organization backed by AFSCME, the AFL-CIO and several
other liberal interest groups.
Last week, NEA submitted testimony to
the House Ways and Means Committee on the Social Security privatization
issue. The union's statement declared, "Social Security is more than a
retirement plan. It is our nation's most successful social insurance
program. Proposals to privatize the system have thus far ignored the impacts
on children who receive survivor benefits and persons with disabilities who
rely on Social Security to survive. The impacts on these most vulnerable
populations cannot be ignored."
This heartrending appeal might have more
impact if it weren't for the fact that about 900,000 NEA members – about
one-third of its total membership -- don't contribute to Social Security.
According to NEA's own data, 12 states
(Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio) and some districts in
Georgia, Rhode Island and Texas have separate retirement systems for
teachers. These teachers are exempted from Social Security taxes, instead
contributing to their own retirement systems, which are run for, and often
What about the orphans and disabled
persons who rely on Social Security to survive? Wouldn’t they benefit from
having 900,000 more workers contributing 12.4 percent of their wages to the
fund (about $5 billion annually)? "NEA strongly opposes any such mandatory
coverage," reads the NEA policy. Why? Because it "would be detrimental to
teachers and other public employees and would create financial burdens for
states and city governments," and "would weaken existing state and local
retirement plans that often offer benefits superior to Social Security."
If this is a winning argument, perhaps
the Bush administration should adopt it. Instead of talking about private
accounts, the White House should just "strongly oppose any such mandatory
coverage." Then those of us who wish to could simply seek out "retirement
plans that often offer benefits superior to Social Security."
2) Two Ways to Make Six Figures
While a Teacher. Method #1: "One in 12 teachers in
Nassau, Suffolk , Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties now earns more
than $100,000, and the ranks are growing fast, according to an analysis of
state data by the New York Times. On Long Island from 2001 to 2003
(the most recent figures available), the number grew fivefold, to 2,800,
including 498 elementary school teachers, 29 physical education teachers and
83 kindergarten teachers." – from "The Rise of the Six-Figure Teacher" in
the May 15 New York Times.
Method #2: "A Valley High School math
teacher who moonlighted as a manager for a downtown motel that was shut down
last week because of prostitution is being investigated by Clark County
School District officials. Edward Kammer, who's recently earned as much as
$105,000 a year as manager of the Del Mar XXX Movie Motel, is the subject on
an internal investigation, but has not been suspended by district
administrators." – from "Teacher under investigation" in the May 10 Las
KLAS-TV asked Clark County Education
Association Executive Director John Jasonek about the case. "I think it's
pretty obvious that teachers have to work second jobs," Jasonek said. "We
are 49th out of 50 states. It's as bad as you can get here in Nevada in
terms of pupil funding. If people did a little more action and a little less
talk we might be in better situations where teachers did not have to work in
all these other jobs."
Yep, if only the taxpayers had coughed
up more than the $49,000 a year Kammer made at the high school, he wouldn't
have to resort to running the XXX Movie Motel. That aside, it's clear that
teaching was Kammer's second job.
3) The Effect of Corruption on Union
Boss Couture. Yes, it's a doctoral thesis just
begging to be written. Barbara Bullock, the former president of the
Washington Teachers Union, used union dues money to purchase, among other
things, more than $500,000 worth of designer clothing at the Van Style
boutique in Baltimore, $11,000 worth of shoes in Atlanta, and a $25,000 mink
Former United Teachers of Dade President
Pat Tornillo preferred to use his purloined union dues for fancy vacations
and hotel suites, but also bought tailored suits in Hong Kong and
python-print pajamas and a matching robe from the Neiman Marcus catalog.
And then we have former Lawrence
Education Association President Wayne Kruse, who will stand trial this
summer for allegedly embezzling more than $97,000 in union dues. We don't
yet have any information on what Kruse supposedly did with the money, but
judging by this photo --
http://www.ljworld.com/section/bigger_photo/157575 -- he didn't blow it
all on Armani.
4) Even New York City's "Dummies"
Budget Is Baffling. New York City Councilwoman Eva
Moskowitz, who dominated newspaper headlines in 2003 for her hearings on
provisions in the teachers' contract, yesterday released a report titled
"The Education Budget for Dummies." The report aims to demystify the city's
$20 billion annual education budget.
"The $20 billion question for parents is
how can we spend that much on our schools and still not have money for
things so basic as science labs – or toilet paper for that matter?"
Moskowitz said at a press conference on Sunday.
The report, sorry to say, doesn't answer
that question, but it does provide an invaluable introduction to the arcane
world of intra-city transfers, inter-government transfers, U/As, and OTPS.
It also provides the answer to the question: When does the March Response
come out? If you said March, you must be new to public education.
The report is available here:
5) Chess, Girls, and the New York
Times. I didn't wake up this morning planning
to write about the All-Girls National Chess Championships in Chicago, but
the story about the event by Jodi Wilgoren in today's New York Times
placed several cartoon rhetorical question marks above my head and I'm
unable to get rid of them. So, in search of the cartoon light bulb to
replace them, I must write. Please bear with me, dear readers.
The Times piece is headlined "On
Boards Without Boys, Girls Reassert Their Power" and you can link to the
full story if you are registered with the Times web site.
Question 1: Why is the story on the
Times education web page?
Question 2: How does one reconcile the
"girl power" headline and tone with Wilgoren's lede, which quotes
14-year-old girl chess player Suleidy Quesada describing a tactic she uses
on her male opponents? "I look straight in their eyes, I touch my hair, I
lick my lips. If you're losing and ask for a draw, they say yes," she
Question 3: "Male dominance in a game
that does not depend on physical strength remains a mystery. Players,
parents and chess promoters say they see differences in play that are
surprisingly stereotypical: boys are always on the attack and care above all
about winning, while girls focus more on defense and admire the art of
certain positions." I'm no chess master, but being "always on the attack" is
a not a strategy for success in chess. If this description is true,
shouldn't the girls dominate the boys?
Question 4: "In part, the sex imbalance
can be explained by history: men have been playing chess for 2,000 years,
women only since the 19th century." Men have an even longer historical
advantage in distance running, but in only 30 years women record-holders in
the Boston Marathon have closed the gap with their male counterparts from
one hour to 13 ½ minutes. How many hundreds of years do a girl's ancestors
have to play chess before she can master it?
Question 5: "For boys, high-level
competition is about take no prisoners, and let us not forget, girls are not
rewarded for having a take-no-prisoners mentality, girls who have a
take-no-prisoners mentality are punished," said Mary Jo Kane, director of
the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, at the
University of Minnesota. This is chess, for pete’s sake, not
gladiatorial combat. Women overcame social conditioning to become athletes,
CEOs, pugilists, firefighters, soldiers and senators, but they can't play
chess because it's not lady-like?
Question 6: "Many players said that they
were the only girls in their schools' chess clubs, and that their female
friends were too busy with ballet or soccer to learn a game they saw as
boring." In our attention deficit world, how is it that greater numbers of
boys than girls can sit quietly in front of a boring game?
OK, I got that off my chest. Thanks for
6) Quote of
"[T]he public sector provides the services and schools
necessary for all people. The private sector provides the funding necessary
to pay for the services. It should follow, therefore, that public sector
people would want a profitable and expanding private sector. But for the
very reason that the public sector is dependent on taxes collected by
government, public sector people usually support higher taxes. They are
generally indifferent to increased regulations. High taxes and costly
regulations can hurt business, ultimately cutting both productivity and
profitability, and thus weakening the private sector's ability to support
the public sector…. But the hard fact remains that private sector employees
can only prosper when their employers do. Their employers are the taxpayers
on which the public sector employees depend. The difference is fundamental."
– Bob Brown, former Montana secretary of state and life member of the
AFL-CIO, commenting on the friction between public and private sector union
members. (May 16 Billings Gazette)