UPDATED: The Entitlement Mentality of Certain Union Teachers & Their Leaders

I got a phone call today which passed along the following story:

When the Judge recently heard the case involving the illegal East Greenwich teachers’ union strike, a teacher went up to a parent at the courthouse and said “Thank you for your support.”
To which the parent replied: “I am supporting my child’s education and I want you to get back to work.”
And the teacher replied: “The town of East Greenwich has a lot of money. You have enough money to pay us more. You are hiding it all.”

Aren’t these union hacks brilliant?
Reminds me of the same entitlement nonsense talk said by the NEA back in 2005. Here is what NEA reps Roger Ferland and Jane Argenteri were quoted as saying about East Greenwich residents in a May 26, 2005 article entitled “Work-to-rule affecting EG school children” in the East Greenwich Pendulum newspaper (page 1, continuing onto page 6; hard-copy only available but referenced in this 2005 post):

  1. “The teachers had to do [contract compliance] to show parents how much extra teachers really do.”
  2. “[Work-to-rule] simply means we won’t do anything extra.”
  3. [Tutoring (i.e., any form of academic assistance) before or after school] is not part of their job description.”
  4. “Teachers have been doing more than what’s required for no money in the past.”
  5. “…a majority of East Greenwich residents can afford to hire tutors for their children but have been receiving these services free from public school teachers for years.”
  6. “More than 50% of East Greenwich residents have a very high income, $500,000 or over.”
  7. “In the private sector no one works overtime without getting paid. And if they’re off the clock at 5 p.m., you can bet they’re out the door at 5.”
  8. “…contract compliance is not hurting the children. Not going on a field trip isn’t hurting a child.”

Separately, I am told that certain union negotiators believe that, should the 3050 tax cap be eliminated or neutered, they expect all the “extra” monies to flow directly into higher teachers’ salaries and benefits – thereby ensuring taxes continue to go up faster than the increases in taxpayer incomes.
These people are smoking some serious mind-altering substances if they think that will ever happen. After all, the East Greenwich Town Council cut the school budget in each of the least two years – even before 3050 took effect.
Must be nice to live in the Entitlement Fantasy World.
Or, as Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy said in an October 2001 speech to the Economic Club of Detroit entitled Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy:

Economist Milton Friedman elaborated on this some time ago when he pointed out that there are only four ways to spend money. When you spend your own money on yourself, you make occasional mistakes, but they’re few and far between. The connection between the one who is earning the money, the one who is spending it and the one who is reaping the final benefit is pretty strong, direct and immediate.
When you use your money to buy someone else a gift, you have some incentive to get your money’s worth, but you might not end up getting something the intended recipient really needs or values.
When you use somebody else’s money to buy something for yourself, such as lunch on an expense account, you have some incentive to get the right thing but little reason to economize.
Finally, when you spend other people’s money to buy something for someone else, the connection between the earner, the spender and the recipient is the most remote — and the potential for mischief and waste is the greatest. Think about it — somebody spending somebody else’s money on yet somebody else. That’s what government does all the time.
But this principle is not just a commentary about government. I recall a time, back in the 1990s, when the Mackinac Center took a close look at the Michigan Education Association’s self-serving statement that it would oppose any competitive contracting of any school support service (like busing, food or custodial) by any school district anytime, anywhere. We discovered that at the MEA’s own posh, sprawling East Lansing headquarters, the union did not have its own full-time, unionized workforce of janitors and food service workers. It was contracting out all of its cafeteria, custodial, security and mailing duties to private companies, and three out of four of them were nonunion!
So the MEA — the state’s largest union of cooks, janitors, bus drivers and teachers — was doing one thing with its own money and calling for something very different with regard to the public’s tax money. Nobody — repeat, nobody — spends someone else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.

A truly cavalier attitude by the unions about their right to tap the hard-earned pay of working families and retirees in Rhode Island. Enough to make you really upset, isn’t it?
ADDENDUM, further updated on September 19:
I look forward to addressing some of the comments made below in a new blog post!
In the meantime, this post caused an East Greenwich school official to contact me and say that Jane Argenteri is making the same comment in this year’s negotiations about all the $500,000+ incomes in East Greenwich. This class warfare talk does get a bit old, especially when it – again – has no basis in fact. Sigh.
I recently held a second meeting with Maryanne Crawford, the Director of Administration for the East Greenwich School District. During that meeting, I learned the following:

  • The average base salary cash compensation for East Greenwich teachers in 2007-08 is $58,674.
  • The average of all other cash compensation for teachers in 2006-07 was $3,074. Nearly all of this is the impact of the $5,000 cash bonus for not using the health insurance plan. Other sources of cash payments come from serving as: (i) an advisor; (ii) a coach; (iii) a curriculum leader; (iv) a department chair; (v) a committee member; and, (vi) summer work.
  • Therefore, the average total cash compensation paid to East Greenwich teachers is approximately $62,000.

From an earlier post, we also know that 29% (68 out of 231) of teachers take the cash bonus for not using the district’s health insurance plan so those teachers are clearly living in a household where another member works – and provides both a second income and health insurance. Furthermore, we know another 47% (110 out of 231) of teachers utilize the family health insurance plan where it is safe to assume some are the sole breadwinners and others are not but still provide the health insurance for the family. Therefore, we can conclude that more than 29% and less than 76% of teachers in East Greenwich have working spouses/significant others where there are 2 incomes in the household.
If we were to assume another working adult in the family earned another $60,000/year for 29-76% of the teachers, then the average household income for East Greenwich teachers would range between $77,000-106,000/year. If the other working adult in the family earned $90,000/year, then the average household income for East Greenwich teachers would range between $86,000-128,000/year.
According to the US census in 2000, the median household income in East Greenwich was $70,063 – as of 2000 but expressed in 1999 dollars.
In addition, I received some further information about the incomes of East Greenwich residents. A firm named Claritas, a company that tracks and projects demographic information. This person who contacted me works with them and contracted them to run projected 2006 data on the town.
The uploaded PDF report shows the following projections for the town of East Greenwich in 2006:

  • Median household annual income: $82,629, with 46% of the households earning less than $75,000.
  • 77% of households have incomes below $150,000.
  • 4% of household have incomes over $500,000.
  • Average household income: $122,723.

Besides it being clear – again – that Argenteri doesn’t know what she is talking about, my simple takeway is this: 46% of East Greenwich households earn less than $75,000/year and the average household income is $122,723. Teachers in East Greenwich make an average of about $62,000/year and – since somewhere between 29-76% of them have second incomes in their household – could realize average household incomes between $77,000-128,000/year.
So why should the taxpayers – many of whom live the same economic lifestyle as the teachers – have to fund entitlements which are greater than what they receive in their own paychecks? Should these same taxpayers, who are already taxed more than 80% of America, be required to suffer a further reduction in their standard of living?
And, even if you are unsympathetic to the plight of East Greenwich residents, do not forget that the NEA will take the terms of an eventual East Greenwich settlement to other less well-off towns around the state and demand that they accept similar contractual obligations.
Remember: Anchor Rising broke the news first about the East Greenwich teachers’ strike and remains THE place to go for information on the teachers’ strike and contract issues in Rhode Island. See the Extended Entry for all relevant links.


To get up to speed, here are the links – in chronological order – to all Anchor Rising posts about the East Greenwich teachers’ strike and the NEA:
Saying “No” to Legalized Extortion
Education Partnership Reports: Learning a lot more about RI teachers’ union contracts (The reports linked to in this post make an important contribution to understanding how teachers’ union contracts are about adult entitlements, not the education of our children.)
Reflecting on Labor Unions on Labor Day (This is a particularly important post for understanding the NEA’s political agenda and financial resources.)
Update on the East Greenwich Teachers’ Contract & Suggested Future Actions
Breaking News on Anchor Rising: East Greenwich Teachers to Strike on Tuesday (Anchor Rising was the first to report that teachers were going to strike.)
More on the Issues in the East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Strike (This is a particularly important post on the substantive issues in dispute in East Greenwich.)
The NEA’s Latest Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich
Sometimes What is Old is New: Misguided Incentives Drive Public Sector Taxation
East Greenwich School Committee: Press Release & General Update
Mr. Subliminal Must Have Written the EG Teachers “Open Letter”
The Continuing NEA Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich: Lies, More Lies & Even Some Melodrama
News Flash: Judge Orders East Greenwich Teachers Back to Work on Friday, September 7
Another Lie by the NEA: East Greenwich Teachers Would Take Pay Cuts Under School Committee Proposals (This is an important post to read as it torpedoes another critical lie by the NEA.)
The NEA in East Greenwich: Reflections On The Week That Was (This post includes some important comments on the issues underlying the debate about the unresolved statewide education funding formula issue.)
The Two Alternatives Before Us: Educational Programs & Teacher Jobs OR Excessive Adult Entitlements (This post describes what will be the eventual tradeoffs.)
East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Contract Negotiations Update
Quantifying the Trend Which Led to the 3050 Tax Cap Law (This post shows how much faster the school budget went up versus the town budget.)
Other relevant posts on Anchor Rising include:
Burrillville Teachers to Students: Let the Pawns Skip School
Crowley, You Charmer
Researching from Outside the Library
Children Are Their Life? No, Children Are Their Leverage.
Citizen Context for Negotiations
One Side of the Phone Conversation
My Favorite Samuel Gompers Quote
The Guidebook to Public-Abuse
Not Quite Breaking (Except of Taxpayers’ Backs)
The Other Side of the Conversation in Tiverton
The Rhode Island Right’s Bizarro Politics
A Case of Crossed Hands
Best We Can Do Is Get Involved Every Time
The Continuing Saga of the Funding Formula Distraction — A Tale of Two Cities
(These three posts immediately above in this section address the important questions of (i) what RI law and court decisions say about teachers’ strikes; (ii) the tax cap and level funding of education; and, (iii) statewide education funding formula.)
This Is the Way the System Works, the System Works, the System Works
A Mere Suggestion for the Teachers’ Unions
Tiverton School Committee Shuffles Its Offer
Hold on, hold on. Keep the money coming!
These Are Professionals?
Other Public Education News
The Teachers’ Unions’ Lack of Moral Character

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
24 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

From an AP story today, a wet dream for NEARI / AFT / McWalters. I wonder if the kids in Venezuela will also get to do a “portfolio,” instead of taking a test, in order to graduate?
VENEZUELA’S CHAVEZ MAY TAKE OVER SCHOOLS
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer
September 17, 2007
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Monday to close or take over any private school that refuses to submit to the oversight of his socialist government as it develops a new curriculum and textbooks.
“Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants,” said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.
All schools, public and private, must admit state inspectors and submit to the government’s new educational system, or be closed and nationalized, with the state taking responsibility for the education of their children, Chavez said.
A new curriculum will be ready by the end of this school year, and new textbooks are being developed to help educate “the new citizen,” said Chavez’s brother and education minister Adan Chavez, who joined him a televised ceremony at the opening of a public school in the eastern town of El Tigre.
The president’s opponents accuse him of aiming to indoctrinate young Venezuelans with socialist ideology. But the education minister said the aim is to develop “critical thinking,” not to impose a single way of thought.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“The president’s opponents accuse him of aiming to indoctrinate young Venezuelans with socialist ideology.”
And this is different from what’s going on in American schools today how?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>And this is different from what’s going on in American schools today how?
Different only in degree, not in kind … and the difference in degree is lessening all of the time!

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
13 years ago

Don,
Your obsession with this issue is getting a bit old – clearly, you are aware that in East Greenwich, the educational results are quite good and your (and my) real estate values are just one outside market indicator on how highly the East Greenwich public school system is respected.
You seem to delight in anecdotes that put teachers in a bad light, and ignore the thousands of great stories about student and teacher successes. You alternatively blame the national, state, and local unions, intermixed with attacks on individuals based on unsubtantiated anecdotes.
I understand that you hate unions, especially in the public sector, but you have failed to answer some of the basic questions you allude to – for instance, what is fair compensation for an East Greenwich teacher, and what in the local results indicate that the job is not getting done in East Greenwich?
The rumor in town is that you are moving to Massachusetts, and if so, I am curious which community you will choose for your residence, and how that community compares to East Greenwich from an educational standpoint, and from the standpoint of how public employees are compensated.
While you are a very bright individual, your bitterness makes it hard to find any nuggets of wisdom in your postings becaseu your bias is so evident.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“While you are a very bright individual, your bitterness makes it hard to find any nuggets of wisdom in your postings becaseu your bias is so evident.”
If that’s the yardstick, NOTHING that you post needs to be even read as we can disregard as being exceptionally biased and anti-taxpayer.

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
13 years ago

to say nothing of the entitlement mentality you display, Hey Don. Hmmm, lets start with a third hand report, then throw in a tad of ad hominum, mix in a dash of innuendo, a whole bunch of justmakeitup, and you get the same old same old…..
Yawn.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>to say nothing of the entitlement mentality you display, Hey Don. Hmmm, lets start with a third hand report, then throw in a tad of ad hominum, mix in a dash of innuendo, a whole bunch of justmakeitup, and you get the same old same old…..
Yeah, and we’re STILL waiting for you NEARI folks to provide:
Material (from objective / credible sources) demonstrating that the unionization of public education has had a beneficial effect (or at least neutral) impact on educational outcomes;
NEARI’s specific proposals for resolving RI’s state and municipal level unfunded liabilities for pensions and retiree health care;
NEARI’s specific proposals for how to comprehensively fund education in Rhode Island (just saying “more state aid” doesn’t cut it) – specific sources of revenue must be cited (tax rates to be increased and/or new taxes to be imposed; naming other expenditures to be cut so that the “savings” can be diverted to education; a combination of the foregoing; etc.).

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Oh yeah, we’re also STILL waiting to hear the NAMES of who was responsible for the infamous midnight bill to give state pensions to teacher union officials who weren’t even employed by the State – both those responsible on the union side, and on the General Assembly side (e.g., who drafted it; who introduced it).

John
John
13 years ago

Bob and Patty the Duck,
I just don’t understand your end game. You support RI having one of the nation’s richest wefare programs (not just FIP, don’t play that game). You support rich public sector pensions, restrictive work rules, and a constant racheting up of comp (step increases, longevity bonuses, etc.). You support ever rising taxes to pay for it all, especially on the evil rich and corporations. And you do your best to drive visible vocal critics of the current system (like Don) out of state or into silence.
In the face of a rapidly worsening economy, which may remain stagnant for years, I just don’t see the logic. Maybe I’m missing something, but apart from extraordinary tax increases, and perhaps a new Berlin Wall around RI’s borders, the numbers just don’t add up.
Please enlighten us about the end game you see playing out…

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

From Pat Crowley’s (now blank) blog:
“Hi. Well, as you can see, I had a serious complication surface with the blog. The company that hosted the information simply shut down, taking all of my data with it. I am working with my local developer to get back up and running. So bear with me as I figure out some next steps.”
Hey Pat, I’ll bet that the company shut down because they could no longer afford their property tax bill!!!
Oops, one less pocket to pick to pay for those teacher raises and health care benefits!

Monique
13 years ago

“You seem to delight in anecdotes that put teachers in a bad light”
To the contrary, inasmuch as the facts speak for themselves especially as to teacher compensation and student performance, Donald and other Anchor Rising contributors have been careful to bring forward data and statistics, not anectdotes. In fact, for years, it has been those who wish to defend or distract from the growing chasm between compensation and performance who have specialized in anecdotes.
Further, it is not comfortable for anyone to look at the current state of education in Rhode Island, much less defend it, Mr. Walsh. But your charge of “bitterness” on Donald’s part is patently baseless and can only be motivated by a strong desire that he stop talking about this subject.

Monique
13 years ago

Dammit, Ragin, this is no laughing matter. Where is the Special House Commission to Examine the Issue of Licensing Websites and Hosts?? How will Pat and the public be protected from unscrupulous hosts without extensive regulations and extravagant requirements for fees, degrees and bonds?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Still waiting to hear from NEARI …

Jim
Jim
13 years ago

While the Bob Walsh’s of the world relish the diversionary tactics of focusing on irrelevlant/easily manipulated minutia, sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at the big picture. When I do that I see the following: Everything run by the government is inefficient. Every industry dominated by unions has suffered immensely. ie, steel, airlines, autos, etc., due to the socialist nature of the union structure.
One of the reasons the government is inefficient is due to the public employee unions. As you can see by the airline, steel and auto industries, when they are subject to competition they go out of business or are forced to accept reality. The only reason these governments are NOT out of business is due to their monopoly status.
Now let’s revisit the public schools. They are run by the government and they are dominated by the unions. Based on history, can there be a more toxic combination?
You have to be retarded if you think that anyting short of a) vouchers/competition or b) elimination of the unions, is going to fix this problem.
Realistically we are not going to get rid of the parasitic unions, leaving the only realistic way to force the change being through vouchers/ competition
Now, who can be surprised that the NEA is against ANY type of competition. Depsite all their protestations against vouchers, there is one simple reason they are against them – they know they will get their assed kicked from here to kingdom come, and the gravy train is over.
VOUCHERS ARE THE ANSWER!!!

Brad McDermott
Brad McDermott
13 years ago

It’s unfortunate that teachers are so short sighted when it comes to their support of unions and hacks like Crowley and Walsh.
The reputation and integrity of the good teachers in the system has been compromised by supporting these clowns. A voucher system is the answer, but teachers find it a threat because it will make them accountable.

Frederick
Frederick
13 years ago

Yes, there are so many brilliant people waiting in the wings to become teachers, but they refuse. You see these people feel the pay is too high and the benefits too cushy (not just to start off with, but throughout a teacher’s career!) Their moral and ethical core simply won’t allow them to become part of the profession! Sad really, such brilliance lost!!

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

>>Yes, there are so many brilliant people waiting in the wings to become teachers, but they refuse. You see these people feel the pay is too high and the benefits too cushy (not just to start off with, but throughout a teacher’s career!) Their moral and ethical core simply won’t allow them to become part of the profession! Sad really, such brilliance lost!!
Oh, such sarcasm …
So I guess that you’re saying that we should fire the current (apparently third tier skill level) teachers, raise the pay, and then hire brilliant teachers?
Sounds like a fair trade-off!
Oops, wait. There’s tenure and union contract protection.
So we can’t fire the current crop of third rate teachers.
So then the only fair thing to do is keep the pay low, or even make it lower still!

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

At this point it seems safe to assume that ANYTHING that the RIs teacher unions are dead set against is probably good for education: vouchers, competition of any kind, accountability, merit pay, “high stakes” testing, longer school days, etc.
On the other hand anything the teacher unions fight hard to perpetuate seems to run counter to educational goals: unfair advantage at the bargaining table, very high pay/benefits (which cost the district so much that staff, including teachers, have to be laid off; student programs and activities get cut; books and supplies can’t be purchased, schools get closed; etc.), and contract rigidity that prevents effective management of the entire education system.
And then there are the not so uncommon teacher union practices of striking and work to rule which wreak havoc on the community when they are employed.
The day can’t come soon enough when this dark cloud that hangs over our public education system is blown out to see, never to haunt us again.

Frederick
Frederick
13 years ago

So what would you would pay the brilliant people you wish would take the “third rate” teachers place?

Jack
Jack
13 years ago

Frederick, what sort of imbecilic question is that?

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

>>So what would you would pay the brilliant people you wish would take the “third rate” teachers place?
1) Base salary of average of teachers salaries across the country (public and private schools); plus
2) Bonuses that would bring that base salary up to the average salary made by doctors and lawyers, prorated for the 9 (instead of 12) month work year. The bonus amount would be calculated and prorated to reflect the amount by which a) their students score meet U.S. average (0% bonus) to b) the meet “best in the world” scores (100%); plus
3) No pension, but a 403b with an employer match that is equivalent to those that are standard in the private sector; and
3) Health care benefits equivalent to those offered in the private sector; and
4) NO tenure or seniority.

Robert S.
Robert S.
13 years ago

I do agree that the education system in this country must to be reformed – it needs to evolve to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century – and it is falling short. However, attacking the educators, who are the ones willing to teach our children, is clearly not the way to inspire productive change. Revising curriculum, funding focused, proven initiatives, and inspiring, not deterring, intelligent individuals to continue to enter the teaching profession will create vast improvements in our nation’s educational system. Constant “blanket” statements that belittle and degrade public school teachers will only serve to push great teachers out of the profession and prevent many more talented individuals from entering it. The system must be improved – but this should not imply that all who currently work within it are the problem.

Frederick
Frederick
13 years ago

Imbecilic? You want to rid the schools of unions to thus get a “better crop” of teachers in. Well, I don’t understand how you expect to attract those best and the brightest to the profession with what is proposed.
Not to mention a child is more than a test score!

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>I do agree that the education system in this country must to be reformed – it needs to evolve to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century – and it is falling short. However, attacking the educators, who are the ones willing to teach our children, is clearly not the way to inspire productive change. Revising curriculum, funding focused, proven initiatives, and inspiring, not deterring, intelligent individuals to continue to enter the teaching profession will create vast improvements in our nation’s educational system. Constant “blanket” statements that belittle and degrade public school teachers will only serve to push great teachers out of the profession and prevent many more talented individuals from entering it. The system must be improved – but this should not imply that all who currently work within it are the problem.
Robert S. –
I believe that most on this forum are clear in drawing the distinction between teachers and teachers unions.
Consider that it is the UNIONS which seek lump teachers together as a singly mass, distinguished only be seniority – thus it is the UNION that in effect engages in “blanket statements” regarding teachers.
“Revising curriculum, funding focused, proven initiatives, and inspiring, not deterring, intelligent individuals to continue to enter the teaching profession” sounds nice, but how do you propose accomplishing that in a union environment which wants every single teacher to be treated and paid as a fungible unit within a collective … and vehemently opposes anything that resembles merit pay for superior teacher performance, standards for minimum acceptable teacher performance, etc.?
If you want high quality public education and well-compensated professional educators, then your beef is with the teachers unions.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.