School superintendents call for hurting the children to protect adult paychecks

November 14, 2011

School superintendents are telling lawmakers that reducing the school year by five days will fix their budgets, report  the Everett Herald and Seattle Times.  This shows that they care more about increasing and maintaining the pay of school employees than about providing school days to children.       

American students already receive so much less learning time than students in Europe and Asia, that they lose out on an entire year of schooling:  From The Economist:

American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year....

....A recent report from McKinsey, a management consultancy, argues that the lagging performance of the country’s school pupils, particularly its poor and minority children, has wreaked more devastation on the economy than the current recession.

Here is an idea.  The total amount of money spent on salaries and benefits on the 101,900 school employees on the payroll in Washington’s schools is about $8.2 billion, about 83% of total operating spending.  If they were to take a reduction in pay and benefits of just $42 a month, or .61%, this would mean a budget savings of $50 million. 

School officials say over and over again the tax hikes they seek for education are “for the children.”  What hypocrisy.  The tax hikes they perennially seek are for themselves.  Now that their spending desires exceed available state revenue, these superintendents are ready to hurt the children in order to protect the salaries and benefits of school employees.   

The superintendents admit in the Everett Herald article that cutting instructional days is harmful to children, and that they hate to do it.  This is dishonest political talk.  It reveals that their strategy is to hurt the children in order to bludgeon taxpayers into agreeing to a tax hike.

Lawmakers could help by passing legislation requiring every collective bargaining agreement to pass along reductions in expected state revenue to the pay and benefits of employees, and to protect the school year for students.  Many collective bargaining agreements require that any state revenue increases must be passed along in the form of increased pay and benefits for the adults, so why not require the reverse?  Why do we continue to protect the interests of adults at the expense of the children? 



Budgets and deceit

I can suggest a few ways to cut future costs -- trillions -- right now.

1. Repeal the adoption of the untested, unfunded, unproved Common Core State Standards.
Do NOT adopt the untested, unfunded, unproved nationalized curricula that allegedly align with these unproved standards.
Do NOT adopt the untested, unfunded, unproved nationalized tests that allegedly align with the unproved national standards and unproved nationalized curricula.
Do NOT buy the nationalized data system being foisted on all of us by the U.S. Department of Education.
If Washington State repeals the adoption of this federal overreach, it also can avoid the costs of the billions of dollars it will spend in professional development, travel costs, conferences, studies, and other idiocies.
Just say no -- to ALL of this.
Voila. Future education budget problems largely solved.

2. As for current budget problems, put dollars back in the classroom and get rid of certain downtown departments (such as Spokane's Department of Teaching and Learning, for example) whose sole function in life is to buy curricular garbage and to create more untested, unfunded, unproved ways for teachers to not be able to actually teach their students.
3. Buy a good curriculum for all subjects that is sufficient and efficient, and freeze the buying of more.
4. Start paying administrators reasonable amounts and freeze any increases. (Tie their pay to student achievement, and fire those whose policies have been counterproductive. Right there, that should clean out entire offices and put serious kinks in the salaries.)
5. Stop buying SMART Boards and other cool yet largely useless (academically speaking) technologies.
6. Stop sending administrators to conferences and training sessions where they learn little that's of any value to the classroom.
7. Stop paying for substitutes who are there because the teachers have been yanked out of class again for yet more professional development.
8. Stop obstructing classroom learning with useless and obscenely expensive testing. Allow the teachers to test their own students.
9. Allow teachers to directly and efficiently teach their students solid information. If teachers were allowed to be efficient and effective, less money would be needed for tutoring, mentoring, on-track programs, intervention programs, behavioral programs and special ed programs. Golly. Just think of the tons of dollars being wasted now.

Do all of this, and voila. All education budget problems solved. Just as easy as that.

If we could also get rid of the entire U.S. Department of Education, we could go a long way toward solving the nation's budget problems. That is definitely an idea whose time has come.

careful $81,000 isn't anyones

careful $81,000 isn't anyones paycheck, the state max paycheck for a teacher working 20 years or more is now about $60,000. If you were looking at a website, be aware of the source...these numbers can include benefits which don't pay the bills. So look at the numbers correctly and compare gross salary to gross salary or net salary to net salary or salary w benefits to salary w benefits. When comparing, compare with another profession that requires the same amount of schooling and continuing education. If I took my degree in math and went elsewhere...WOW, what I would get paid. However, I am good at what I do...teaching kids math, so I do it.

This is another good example of why kids need to be in the classroom learning...eventually they become adults without the skills to properly asses the real world stats.

Math teacher (anonymous)

Obviously you didn't bother to go to the website listed in my earlier comment. So here it is again!

The contents of the spreadsheets on the Tacoma News Tribune website came directly from the office of the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction - Mr. Randy Dorn. Randy was hand picked by the WEA (Teachers Union) to be the head of all of the schools in the state and it was his office that released the figures that you consider in error. Randy does have a major problem with drinking and driving but I would trust his figures when it comes to the salaries and benefits of school employees long before I would listen to someone representing the teacher's union.

The last line of your comment is a real winner and I think says a great deal about why our children have been falling for so many years and are now not even ranked in the top ten in the world.

"This is another good example of why kids need to be in the classroom learning...eventually they become adults without the skills to properly asses the real world stats."

My guess is that you were trying to put down anyone who has a different view of our schools = you failed miserably just as you and your fellow teachers have failed our kids.

As a teacher. please quickly learn the difference between asses and assess.

It really scares me that you actually could be a math teacher in one our government schools.


Randy Dorn was not picked by the teachers union. They supported Terry Bergeson. Randy Dorn was picked by the public.

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reducing school year

There are numerous cuts that could be made in lieu of cutting school days. Start by cutting back district offices to administration personnel only.... Currently, school districts try to totally direct instruction remotely while having no clue what they are doing or it's impact on the classroom. Many district jobs could be replaced by principals, master teachers or run by school departments.

Vertical teaming among schools and feeder schools could easily replace remote management that costs millions and has led to no improvement. Of course you won't see superintendents let go of their micro management because they like being in the position of calling the shots while holding others accountable for the results.

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Great post. And to the idea

Great post. And to the idea of cutting the school year----No No and NO. Have I made myself clear?

reducing pay for teachers of YOUR children


School superintendents are telling lawmakers that reducing the school year by five days will fix their budgets, report the Everett Herald and Seattle Times. This shows that they care more about increasing and maintaining the pay of school employees than about providing school days to children.

American students already receive so much less learning time than students in Europe and Asia, that they lose out on an entire year of schooling: From The Economist:


Then How do you propose that these teachers continue to teach YOUR children??? If you do not wish to pay them a decent paycheck then maybe you all want to teach your children yourself. I challenge you to try!!! Just check online how much these teachers make. It is NOT enough for what you expect them to do. Just keep reducing their pay and see what happens. These wonderful people will seek employment elsewhere and then NO ONE will be available to teach your precious children.

I took your advise and...

went online and researched teacher salaries in Washington State. Wow, was I surprised! The teacher in my neighborhood school who is constantly complaining that she is unable to pay her bills because of her low pay actually made over $96,000 in salary plus an additional $20,000 in salary and pension benefits according to the Washington office of education . The average Washington state teacher receives over $81,000 in salary and benefits for working less than 9 months a year! Please stop telling us how poor you are - cuz you are a liar.

Be sure and click the "more" button to see the amount of benefits paid and make sure to search under "total pay"

...and I looked at that link...

10yrs experience. Master's degree. Base pay rate of $54k. Total Comp $68k.
32yrs experience. Master's degree. Base rate of $64k. Total Comp $83k.
A couple examples of teacher's I know at my son's school that are rockstar teachers. Their compensation in no way reflects the real world. $83k? For 32yrs of experience and stellar at what he does? With a masters degree? In the private sector, outside education, he'd be making 6 figures easily.

Teachers also don't work only 9 months out of the year here in WA State. They generally work most of the summer prepping for the next year. Writing lesson plans, setting up their class room. And they normally work for a couple weeks after the end of the year cleaning up their classrooms so that in a couple weeks they can prep for the next year. And they are required to take continuing education courses which many elect to do over the summer so they have the time to work 12hr days during the school year.

Get up at 5 am. Be at school a couple hours early to accomodate a parent whose work schedule doesn't allow them to come after class to chat about an issue affecting their child. Stay late prepping the next day, grading, then meeting with the parent who can't schedule early and needs to find out how to help their child achieve. Most of these people LOVE your kids. Will do almost anything to see them succeed in school. Spend $100's of their own money so YOUR kids have the right supplies and books in class. Really? You are going to complain about what THEY make? Their apparent slothfullness because you personally don't know that your kid's teachers really actually work a full year and probably put in more hours working than you ever will? You should be complaining about why there isn't enough money in the class room and wondering why multiple people in each district are making well into 6 figures as adminsitrators.

I'm a conservative well known poster on a number of blogs. I hate the waste in our school systems but teacher pay is not one of those wastes. Sure there are some teachers who maybe shouldn't be teaching, poor performers, etc. It would be nice to be able to correct for that. Gee thanks WEA. But over all compensation is not what people think it is. The waste is in operations and management. School opereations are terribly fat. Not personnel wise but procedurally. Coming from a LEAN background what I see, especially at the administrative level (read district management and support) is tragic.

But you go on and tell us how teachers make too much.

Teachers are PAID PLENTY

RcGuy stop your whining. Many EEXMPT professionals get up at 5am. I DO. I am at work by 6:00am. I commute 30 miles. I don;t get home until 7pm. I work 255+ days a year. And I do not get overtime or TRI or get paid extra pay for extra work.

In a Tacoma Audit in early 2000, teachers who were getting paid $50 an hour were also getting paid $50 an hour for a "copy room " coordinator. Check the state Audit if you don't believe me. This was under the "extra pay" for "extra work" BS.

I am so tired of paying for the castle and new everything for these whiny teachers. Your damn lucky to make $50 an hour, work 190 days, get pension, get all the damn holidays off and your still griping?

And btw I have a graduate degree too and didn't expect the government to pay for my education.

...You Continue.. perpetuate a lie.

One - I'm not whining, and not a teacher. I work in IT, and have had much longer commutes than you apparently have. I rarely take vacation time. Oh yeah, salaried, which means extra work for no extra pay.

Two - If you could actually read for substance and past your own bias you would have seen that I called out the administrative largess. Or is that too big a word for you. I have gone through the sites and that is why I used the TOTAL compensation numbers in my post. Not the base.

Three - Is it more or less expensive to pay a teacher for extra work? Or more or less expensive to hire somebody else to do that work? Taking into account it will be a union employee (must be) and be required to be paid benefits, vacation, sick, retirement.

Four - Again; I don't know a teacher who actually only works 9mths. Most work year round. Your argument that they (using your numbers above) are making $78k/yr base on only 9 months are a falacy. Most work about the same as you or me.

When you can get past your hatred of teachers, seemingly, being over paid, and you take a look at real numbers, cost comparisons, and where the overhead really is maybe then you will focus on district and state administration and the massive bureaucracy that creates the huge budget numbers.

Oh..FIVE...UNIONS - Really don't have to say more, but I will. Unions are the ones who set the pay rules. Unions required the extra dollars for copy attendant duty. Require how many students per class. Set base salary and increments. Set compensation. Refuse to let a poor multi-decade teacher be fired for not being able to teach all because they'd rather have her dues percentage than a younger but better teachers. Unions that set how many administrative staff (or “recommend”) have to be at each school and district.

Teachers deserve, and earn, every penny they make. Again, look at the admin side. Really does it take a Superintendent, Asst. Superintendent, Director, Asst. Director each with their own secretary, own office staff to run a district? Does it take multiple specialty directors to run programs in a district? Do you need a Director of education when we have one at the state level and we have supers, principals, etc? Or the cost of free and reduced priced lunches? Or the cost of free after school programming? Or the cost of free tutoring? What is the cost of an un-educated and un-employable child living off the state for much of their lives? And yes I do put my money where my mouth is. My wife and I volunteer at our school. Help pay for supplies so they have enough. Help build and pay for extra books, playground equipment, etc. All so I don't have to listen to whiny bitche$ like you complain about shiz you know nothing about.

Can you say critical thinking? I didn't think so. I detest people like you that want to blame the cost of education on teachers. Blame it on Unions, political parties, state leadership. Teachers just want to teach and be provided the basic tools to get the job done.

Get into the real world

Last year, many people worked the same hours and got less $$ for it. B/c that's how it had to work in the private sector. Teachers need to realize that they are not unique in that sense---if there's less, they have to take less. They are not exempt from reality.