Friday, March 11, 2011

If You Want to Reduce the Deficit, Go Where the Money Is - And It Ain't in Teachers' Salaries

As the U.S. federal budget debate heats up (read: drags on interminably) over the next week, I'm going to post a few thoughts on budgeting, budget priorities, and how budgets reveal the priorities and morality of the people writing the budgets.

In the first post of this 3-4 post mini-series, Jon Stewart reminds us that rich people are the ones with money, not teachers, so if you want to reduce the deficit, it would make more sense to increase government revenue from the wealthy, not squeeze teachers further:

Now, I'll be the first to disagree with teachers' unions when they say that "a teacher is a teacher is a teacher; there are no such things as good teachers or bad teachers." That's patently ridiculous - of course there are good and bad teachers, just like there are good and bad doctors, good and bad plumbers, good and bad hamburger flippers, good and bad Congressmen, and good and bad news pundits - and it should be easier to fire bad teachers than it currently is in many school districts.

That said, the U.S. deficit isn't being caused by overpaid teachers or by unions' defense of bad teachers; the vast majority of current and future deficits are being caused by wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush-era tax cuts to the rich, and the economic downturn; therefore, perhaps we should start with those areas if we want to reduce the deficit:

So please, let's stop doing dumb things like blaming teachers's unions. These unions have their faults, but they play a critical role in trying to preserve and maintain quality education in the United States - most importantly, teachers' unions are pretty much the only advocate and lobbying force in favor of public education on the national stage. When politicians, rich people, corporations, private school advocates, etc. all spend millions of dollars to dismantle the system of public education in favor of tax breaks, vouchers for private schools, etc., what would happen to public education if teachers' unions didn't exist to advocate, lobby, and make political contributions in favor of public education and public education funding?

My guess is that the U.S. would slowly revert to a pre-Industrial Revolution system of education in which only the rich (who can afford private tutors and/or private schools) receive quality education, while the rest of society is doomed to learn only what their parents or neighbors can teach them.

I'm reminded of the following cartoon:

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