I previously expressed doubts about this claim, repeated yesterday by Indiana State Teachers Association president Teresa Meredith, concerning the $14 million settlement with the state of Indiana over the union’s failed insurance trust:
No members’ dues were used to fund this settlement. To protect the interest of school employees, ISTA and NEA funded litigation to sue those actually responsible for the collapse of the ISTA Trust. That litigation generated settlements in excess of $14 million, which are the sole source of the funds being used to resolve the state and school districts’ cases.
I’ve been baffled by this for months, but after obtaining a pile of financial documents and parsing the ISTA statement for the usual misdirection, I believe I have determined how ISTA and NEA is peddling this misleading claim to their members. I’ll have all the details in Monday’s communiqué. Stay tuned.
In an effort to promote its lawsuit against the state’s property tax cap, the New York State United Teachers released an analysis that shows “the wealthiest 10 percent of New York school districts spend 80 percent more educating their students than the poorest 10 percent – a funding inequity that is aggravated by the state’s property tax cap and widens the unacceptable achievement gap.”
Since NYSUT defines the wealthiest districts as those that spend the most, their analysis is actually a truism. The fact that people who pay the most in property taxes would benefit the most from a property tax cap is also rather self-evident. It’s hardly worth getting riled up over NYSUT’s press release except for its complete avoidance of the one overwhelming factor that drives per-pupil spending: employee salaries and benefits.
New York has almost 46,000 public education employees who make more than $100,000 in salary alone. A Gannett study found ”large disparities in teacher salaries in New York: highest in the wealthy areas of the state and lowest in the rural counties.” The averages ranged from $23,000 in Schuyler County to $121,000 in Scarsdale.
The effect of labor costs is even more noticeable when viewed in aggregate. For example, in 2010-11 the Greece Central School District spent $13,394 per pupil on employee compensation, while the East Ramapo Central School District spent $20,348. But Greece’s labor costs consumed 89.3 percent of its budget, while East Ramapo’s only ate up 76.1 percent.
Since NYSUT locals are mostly responsible for the levels of salaries and benefits, the union can greatly mitigate the effects of spending gaps among districts during collective bargaining. But NYSUT has no interest in reducing gaps by spending less in wealthy districts. After all, those members pay dues as well.
NEA-Loving in New Mexico wants the school district to recognize it as the bargaining representative for some 40 teachers. The effort has gone on for quite some time.
The district suggests the teachers should vote on it, but the NEA rep says the union has “super-majority support among Loving teachers” and that “moving for a vote would not only waste valuable time but cost budget dollars, which he said he would prefer to see go to students.” He added that the union’s “only interest lies in collaborating with the district to ensure that the community’s teachers are given equal voice in district policies and procedures.”
Did NEA-Loving get that super-majority by promising members the union would collaborate with the district and save it money?