1) Is NEA Reading Its Own Research? Last week,
the National Education Association released its latest edition of
Rankings & Estimates with the headline: "Teachers Take 'Pay Cut' as
Inflation Outpaces Salaries." The subhead reads: "NEA President Warns
Students Pay the Price with High Teacher Turnover."
I suppose it's hopeless to point out that NEA mistakes
cause for effect. "High teacher turnover" means high-paid teachers retire
and are replaced by low-paid rookies, thereby reducing the growth in the
"average" salary. If I have two teachers earning $70,000 each, and one
retires and I replace her with a teacher earning $35,000, the average salary
has been reduced by 25 percent, but that's hardly an argument for a hike in
But there's an even bigger reason why the average
teacher salary doesn't rise to reflect the amount taxpayers are sinking into
public education. NEA's own research provides it, but the union's
self-interest prevents it from highlighting it in any context whatsoever.
America continues to hire armies of teachers.
EIA has illustrated this before, but public school district hiring and
firing practices appear to bear no relationship to the one factor that
should drive them: student enrollment.
According to NEA's own estimates, student enrollment in
the United States will grow this school year by a total of 349,452 students
(0.7 percent). The number of classroom teachers is expected to grow by
62,443 (2.0 percent). That, my friends, is one new teacher for every 5.5 new
That's not even the most ridiculous statistic. Most of
the enrollment growth is in secondary school, as the last of the Baby
Boomers' children work their way through high school. Secondary school
enrollment is expected to grow by 1.4 percent, while the number of secondary
school teachers is expected to grow by only 1.0 percent.
Elementary school enrollment is expected to grown by
only 88,595 students (0.3 percent), but we're planning to hire 49,965 more
elementary school teachers (2.8 percent). That's one new K-8 teacher for
every 1.8 new K-8 students.
This simply cannot be sustained. It's not beyond the
realm of possibility that someday soon the marginal increase in teachers –
in actual numbers, not percentage - will exceed the marginal increase in
This is not a new problem. In the last 10 years,
elementary enrollment increased by a total of 4.2 percent. But the number of
elementary school teachers increased by 19.1 percent.
Is any of this sinking in? I don't know, but last
week's newspapers were filled with "surprising" enrollment figures from all
across the country:
school enrollment far below projection"
enrollment down by 7,000 for fall semester" (Houston)
schools in DPS up 2 pupils" (Denver)
Diego Unified, like many districts throughout California, is in a
chronically declining enrollment phase."
Average salary increases will always appear smaller
when spread among a growing number of employees. Once hired, there is a
"enrollment lag" before the size of the labor force reflects a decrease
or slowing in student enrollment. Thanks to tenure protections, reducing the
workforce generally can happen only two ways: retirement and layoff of
probationary teachers. Or what some people might term "high teacher
turnover." We'll see more of it in the coming years.
2) AFT Says United Teachers of Dade = Double Plus
Good. With impeccable timing, the November issue of AFT's publication
American Teacher features a glowing account
of the "new energy" apparent in the United Teachers of Dade (UTD). Read the
special report for all the good news. But if you have any questions about
whether AFT's focus is
propaganda instead of journalism, you might want to ask these people,
who make no appearance in the AFT's paean to UTD:
Ira J. Paul
Pamela Sturrup (Item
Miami Herald also had a different take,
If you think we're all being too harsh on a union that has overcome the
problems stemming from its years as
Pat Tornillo's personal piggy bank, well, let's just say I wish EIA had
a Florida bureau to cover all the leads, allegations and rumors received
3) NEA and Florida Affiliate Sue Breakaway Local.
The troubled history of the Collier Support Professional Association in
Florida got a little more troubled as
the local union is being sued by its former parent affiliates, the
Florida Education Association and the National Education Association. FEA
and NEA are claiming breach of contract and nonpayment of more than $135,000
The local's stewards ousted the leadership and ended
their relationship with NEA and FEA in 2003, but it appears the formal
procedures for disaffiliation were not adhered to, leaving the status of the
exclusive bargaining agent in legal limbo (see
Item #7 for background).
In the meantime, dues money continues to be extracted
from members' paychecks, which the district is holding until it determines
whom it should pay. CSPA President Richard Arena told the Naples Daily
News he had not received a copy of the lawsuit, but suggested the local
will reply in kind with a lawsuit of its own.
4) Teamsters Awarded Victory in Fort Wayne.
representation battle for school bus drivers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is over
for the time being (see
Item #6 for background). After two votes failed to provide a majority to
either the Teamsters or the Indiana State Teachers Association, the school
board ruled the incumbent union – the Teamsters – would remain the exclusive
5) Hide Your Wallets.
"The newly elected Congress has an opportunity to chart a new course for
America by implementing campaign priorities into legislation and programs –
and the AFT already has the structure in place to offer ideas on key
issues," explains the latest issue of Inside AFT.
"We can't assume that the new
members of Congress know everything about our issues," said AFT director
John Ost. "This is an opportunity to educate them."
6) Opening in North Carolina.
North Carolina Association of Educators
Director Colleen Borst is moving on.
CORRECTION: The opening is for executive director of the union's Retired
School Personnel Division. You've got until next Monday to get
your résumé to Raleigh.
7) Alabama High Schoolers Embrace EIA's Mission.
From this morning's Huntsville Times about Catholic High School's
"Along with the people from the past, many students
also dressed in ethnic costumes, and the cafeteria was lined with displays
from 30 countries. Students sampled foods from the countries and got a stamp
in their 'passport' to show that they had collected facts about the
"Students all take part in an imaginary Education
Intelligence Agency, in which they visit a country to determine 'what daily
life is like,' she said. 'The goal is to get them to find out about
something they don't know.'"
Public education is like a foreign country, but
fortunately it's relatively simple to learn the native language -
8) Thanks for Responding.
I appreciate the time
you took to respond to my request for comments and suggestions last week
(one new one has already been implemented!). It's a pleasure to have readers
who care enough about this product to offer aid and assistance. If you
haven't replied yet, my inbox is always open.
9) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from November 13-November 20:
Perhaps With a Recusal… The Washington Post is conducted an
informal review of the best education blogs. Overcoming the "East German
judge" could be a problem.
Who Needs Students? The New York Times discovers heaven for
educrats: six-figure budgets but no pesky pupils or parents.
Jessica Alba: Accept No Substitute. NEA President Reg Weaver tells us
that the hard work of substitute teachers is exemplified by a small slice of
Tom Berenger, call your office!
Quote of the Week.
piece that boggles our minds. They don't view association leave in any kind
of benefit to the district." – Rapid City Education Association Co-President
Nancy Kroeger, wondering why the school board opposes using taxpayer money
to subsidize release time for teachers to conduct union business. (November
Rapid City Journal)