Van's Views

Teachers Strike for Pay Not Education!

In 2017 the average Arizona teacher salary was $48,472, while the Arizona per capita income was $41,633, a percentage difference of nearly 15%. The #RedforEd group is demanding that increased taxes be imposed on everyone to generate additional revenue for teacher pay. Is this a good idea?

Most “per capita income” individuals work in the private sector. How do employers determine the value of jobs? Why is the average salary of Arizona government school teachers so much higher than per capita income?

With their higher average salary ($6,839 higher), teachers nonetheless claim they are underpaid. Their endless public relations campaigns have convinced most people to believe them. A few years ago a national PDK poll reported the public believes the number one problem facing educators is lack of money. Might teachers’ claim of “underpaid” actually be true?

Any economic textbook will tell you value of labor is determined by supply and demand—which can operate only in the free market and nowhere else—certainly not in government monopolies.

50.7 million students attended K-12 government-funded and controlled schools in fall 2017, compared to 5.2 million in private schools; 90 percent of all students attend government schools and that is where most teachers work—including #RedforEd agitators.
Incidentally, have you heard any #RedforEd expressions of gratitude, such as, “Thank you, taxpayers, for permitting us to receive 15% more in average salary than you make yourself. We are humbled when we see your sacrifice for us.”

The claim teachers are “underpaid” is not based on market reality—and for economic matters, there is no other reality. All forms of socialism, including government monopolies, preclude the possibility of paying workers based on market value, for supply and demand is banished by government dictates. As the economist Mises put it, “Where there is no free market, there is no pricing mechanism; without a pricing mechanism, there is no economic calculation.” The government schooling monopoly prevents any reality-based calculation of a teacher’s market value. So how can #RedforEd teachers claim they are “underpaid”?

This quandary is not unique to determining the monetary value of teachers in government schools; it applies to virtually all government employment. A public that understands basic economic principles notices the creeping tyranny inherent in #RedforEd agitation. So does Bernie Sanders.

If you have sufficient mileage, you recall politicians and government employees, including teachers, were once commonly referred to as “public servants”—individuals who willingly sacrificed higher salaries available in the private sector out of altruistic motivation for serving the “greater good.” One college’s motto, “Culture for Service,” expresses the idea. Graduates were to serve mankind, not make as much money as they could.

Many citizens believed teaching and government employment should be less lucrative, for if a person’s primary motivation were money, that person would not be sensitive to “higher values” and would be more susceptible to the corrosive temptations abounding in government. Humble, honest, hardworking, self-sacrificing, other-oriented; these were the by-words that described public servants and teachers.

Recall the shock, then, when the Congressional Budget Office released a study during the Obama administration reporting that on average federal employee pay and benefits exceeded, by a sizeable degree, those of private sector employees. And we see that average teacher pay does, too.

Coupled with the “crony capitalism” (a variant of socialism) scandals , the image of “public servants” vanished. Government employees are now viewed as a privileged class, receiving lavish salaries and benefits, isolated from the vagaries of the market which everyone else endures. Realizing that policies benefiting government employees, politicians, and their cronies were largely responsible for economic stagnation, citizens reacted as anyone would when salt is poured on an open wound.

Rather than government subservient to citizens and protecting individual rights endowed by their Creator, now government employees, and teachers, are presumed to know better than those who pay their salaries. The government class set-about to impose their utopian (AKA: socialistic) ideas upon the public, seeking to “fundamentally transform” America. “Pay us what we demand because we are more knowledgeable and valuable than you. We are government employees, and/or teachers, and therefore we deserve it—and next year, even more.”

Long-forgotten truths now seemed fresh as morning dew: “The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse,” said James Madison in a Speech before the Virginia State Constitutional Convention, Dec. 1, 1829.

Absent the free market, how are teacher salaries determined? If we review great moments in school funding since the 1960s, we see teacher salaries and school spending are driven primarily by lawsuits and threats thereof, union strikes (AKA: “walkouts”), and union political donations—they’re definitely not due to improvements in teacher and/or school performance. Clinging to the discredited fantasy that more spending magically improves education, school funding formulas in some states funneled more money to lower-performing schools and away from the better performers. In the fantasy world of government monopoly, economic incentives rewarded the poor performers. What is rewarded, increases!

Are #RedforEd agitators oblivious to their record? “53% … of Arizona’s graduates do not qualify for admission to our state universities. 59% of Arizona students enroll in remedial classes in our community colleges. 43% of employers report their new hires are deficient in basic skills,” reported an Arizona state school board employee a few years ago. In 2014, the average college freshman’s grade-equivalent reading level was only 7.5, and average reading level of the top 40 books read by 9-12th graders was only 5.3. It is no surprise the 2017 NAEP results released this month show 63% of seniors are not proficient in reading and 75% are not proficient in math. To ordinary citizens kicked to the curb by government/education elites, #RedforEd is mostly churning out illiterates who don’t quality for good jobs and can’t return correct change when working as clerks at MacDonald’s. A noted economist’s reaction to these results: “It’s grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.”

Can such under-performing individuals sustain Liberty? “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816. Can these students even read the documents of Liberty? The grade-equivalent reading level of the Declaration of Independence is 15.8, the US Constitution: 17.8, and the Federalist Papers: 17.1. It is not hyperbole to say schools that do not educate are complicit in undermining Liberty and preparing fallow ground for socialism. [Indeed, recent revelations have shown that teachers of the very same ilk as the socialist organizers of #RedforEd have successfully sown and brought to fruition cadres of emotion-driven socialist youth who loyally supported avowed “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.]

To be sure, individual differences in teaching performance do exist. Everyone can recall a truly spectacular teacher or two—and many more who were mediocre, or worse (but successful students shoulder responsibility for their own learning and still achieve, even under less-than-spectacular teachers). Banding together in unions and agitating as “#RedforEd,” erases those important differences. Spectacular teachers are paid no more than the ineffectual. Because teachers are presenting themselves as one union, or one agitating group, we discuss them as if they were all the same, while recognizing that, in-reality, important individual differences exist—and should be rewarded differentially, just as employees are in the real world.

#RedforEd intends to exercise raw, naked power to coerce politicians into increasing their salaries and to sponsor a ballot initiative that will enshrine in state law special treatment for teachers, with the advantage to them, of by-passing public debate and scrutiny inherent in the representative process. The goal is to place themselves beyond the reach of all those in the “per capita income” group; while teachers become government functionaries immune to the will of the people. Is this goal consistent with “of the people, by the people, and for the people?” Is it reasonable to expect that individuals holding these values can teach the true essence of American representative government, the requisite for preservation of Liberty in self-governance?

Generous spirits do not blame teachers entirely for their behavior. They are trapped inside a government monopoly that is responsive only to political power, not to individual performance, and not to parental choice. Hence, teachers organize and strike to demonstrate their raw political power. “What other choice have we?” they may think.

Students watch, and learn. Teachers embrace Alinskyite community organizing; for, unlike the private sector, they cannot be rewarded for exemplary, individual performance. Is this the way to teach self-governance in Liberty, with representative government? The lesson pupils* learn from #RedforEd, Governor Ducey’s power usurpation, and the legislature’s capitulation to blackmail is more powerful than classroom instruction; amidst the widespread damage wrought by Barack Obama and the Deep State, it is one more giant leap for Arizona and the U.S.A., on the road to Venezuela—but neither pupils, nor teachers, nor politicians seem aware of where their actions are leading. [But, you can be sure the socialist agitators leading the strike are aware. . . .]

We would be remiss if we fail to note the government monopoly has imposed policies on schools that render a teacher’s work increasingly impossible. Divorced from reality, the policies of disproportionality in discipline, restorative justice, and Obama’s Promise Program have largely eliminated consequences for student misbehavior (including criminal and near-criminal student behavior). Many classrooms have devolved into chaos, with “students” running the institution;* potentially spectacular teachers have no choice but to leave.

The education establishment’s embrace of identity politics and socialism leaves no room for individual discretion in teaching (“Let’s impose a parent- and teacher-proof curriculum”), or thought: Government schools embrace student walkouts for purported “gun control,” but place on immediate administrative leave a teacher who has the temerity to ask, “Would the school support students walking out if the purpose was to support life?”

For many citizens, most important is the inescapable realization that a straight line can be drawn between American schools and the decline of American culture. “Our Schools Have Kept Us Free,” was the title of Henry Commanger Steele’s lead editorial in the October 16, 1950, issue of Life Magazine. No one can say that about schools today. Instead, thanks to the values embodied by agitators such as #RedforEd, school textbooks teach socialism as the superior economic system, despite the overwhelming and irrefutable body of evidence that socialism is the destroyer of health and prosperity in every country where it has been embraced. The title of a recent piece sums the findings nicely: “You Can’t Argue Against Socialism’s 100 percent Record of Failure.”**

Social engineering is rampant in schools. The underlying goal is to wrest Liberty from individuals by indoctrinating today’s youth to vote for their own enslavement when they beome adults. Bernie Sanders stands by, ready to help. “Jobs for all inevitably reduces everyone to slavery, wiping out the free market while mobilizing the entire population as a slave labor force [marshalled at the point of that governmental gun] to be plugged into the government’s various schemes. No free country can offer jobs for all. Only slave systems will give everyone a job,” warns Greenfield. Are teachers listening?

Social engineers do not limit their efforts to the imposition of socialism; instead they seek to destroy the basic family unit that is the foundation necessary for free society. They push, despite the objection of parents, the insidious Planned Parenthood sex indoctrination curriculum, the ongoing war on boys, victomhood, identity politics and anything else detrimental to formation and sustaining of healthy families.

American history is ignored or distorted beyond recognition. In place of the Founders’ assertion that the purpose of government is to protect unalienable Creator-endowed rights of individuals (and all that entails), students are taught they are “global citizens” who are to pledge their allegiance solely to one all-encompassing state. It is no accident that the longer students spend in government schools, the more likely they are to express hatred for American Founding principles, leaving abused parents and citizens wondering why schools should benefit from their tax dollars. Indeed, why should citizens pay for their own destruction?

Where can we look for solutions? Will increasing salaries of teachers trapped within an unsustainable, socialistic education monopoly improve academic performance and promote Liberty? Will throwing more money at government schools result in students who embrace Liberty and recognize the historically unique accomplishments of America—and do so increasingly, the longer they attend government schools? Will students in government schools no longer aspire to socialism as their preferred economic system but instead recognize free markets as the sole engine to prosperity and freedom? Will throwing more money at schools convince teachers to abandon Alinskyite-agitating and instead embrace reality? Or will they continue to trod the broad road to Venezuela?

The values that enabled America to extend more freedom and more prosperity to more people than any other country in history are well-known. The historical record shows without question that the private school model is the only economically viable solution, and the only model that preserves Liberty. Economic factors ensure private schools will regain education’s former levels of performance, and restore parental trust. [Charter schools are NOT private schools! They are public schools ‘chartered’ by, and accountable to, state government.]
Nonetheless, the government monopoly blinds most teachers to the destructive path they travel with their Alinskyite organizing tactics and use of raw political power.

What is the solution in our children’s best interest, and a viable future for our State?

•Demand that Gov. Ducey call a special session of the legislature to overhaul the public school system and Title 15 of the state statutes.
•Demand the legislators overhaul the public school system for which they have the ultimate authority and responsibility, beginning with the following:
1.Restore the constitutional powers of the elective state-level executive officer, the state superintendent of public instruction, responsible for executing the constitutional education laws enacted by the state legislature,
2.Strip the advisory state board of education of all unconstitutional usurpation of quasi-executive, quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial power over the public school system,
3.Abolish any form of the Common Core State Standards Initiative from Arizona’s public school system,
4.Repeal/rescind all statutes, rules and regulations imposing standardized testing and/or assessments upon our school children,
5.Repeal/rescind all statutes, rules and regulations that impose social engineering programs on our children of any age.

As an interim step, demand that the legislators in the current session enact emergency legislation to terminate the government practice of sending checks to school districts, the linchpin practice that enshrines the government school monopoly. Instead, follow existing Arizona state law (ARS 1-601 & 1-602) that affirms parents—not schools, not government—as the final authority in all matters of their child’s education, upbringing, moral and religious training, health care, and mental health. Send the money to parents of school children. Parents will decide which school (private or home school or government) is best for their children.

Schools will, of necessity, compete for students and the only way to gain parental trust is through excellence. The private market, unlike government monopolies and socialism, requires performance; rewarding schools and individual teachers who demonstrate excellence—in teaching math, writing, history and other essential subjects–as well as teachers who excel at instilling the values of American Exceptionalism. Salaries of exceptional teachers will rise.

Restoring decision-making to parents resolves many thorny issues surrounding statewide “assessment” of student performance. Individual schools and teachers will decide the best means of showing how they promote student achievement and instill student aspiration to American Founding principles. Exceptional schools will develop means of breaking current geographical limitations.

The choice is stark: Continue the current path with teachers actively promoting socialism, or return schools to the private model that rewards teachers for excellence while preserving Liberty. Instead of adorning Arizona sidewalks, let #RedforEd go where the values they promote are already in place—Venezuela. I’m sure they will enjoy it.

*By definition, Pre-School through 12th Grade children are “pupils” who require “education” to learn, and grow into thinking, reasoning, individuals capable of becoming responsible, happy citizens of our Great State and Nation. “Students” are adults and youth who have graduated from 12th Grade and moved-on to post-secondary schools; theoretically, they are educated and ready for “instruction.” However, in the “public school system,” for more than 150-years, the intent has been to instruct by propaganda to indoctrinate, not to educate! This is why the “educator’s” lexicon replaced “pupil” with the post-secondary term: “student;” to more accurately correlate with the purpose of “public instruction.”

At ever-accelerating rates, your children are being graduated as indoctrinated collectivist automatons, prepared to be used as pawns by technocrats, #RedforEd, Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and his protege: Gov. Doug Ducey, Jeff Flake, George Soros,, for the annihilation of our Great and Free America! Your children are not being honorably educated to live as FREE, responsible adults to thrive in our Free American Republic in God-Given Liberty!

Therefore, those schools devolving into chaos, truly do have “students,” not “pupils,” running the institutions, just as their predescessor indoctrinated activist thugs ran certain colleges & universities in the ‘60s.

**But, when the real goal of socialists and other collectivists is considered, which is: consolidation of power and wealth in tyrannical oligarchies controlling the populace by the governmental gun, it is crystal clear that socialism’s true record is one of 100% success. The tyrants achieve their power; no matter that the enslavement, poverty, and misery of the people upon whose backs and minds the collectivist state is built are natural consequences of appealing to the people with promises of a chicken in every pot, while modern-day Marie Antoinettes toss-off inspirational homilies like, Half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a basket of deplorables!
God Bless You All; Clair VAN Steenwyk

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