Educators, Stop Your Whining!

by Bob Shannon

Having attended last Thursday’s Joint School Board and Board of Supervisors meeting at Hamilton Holmes Middle School, I have a few observations.

Dr. David White, King William County school superintendent, made specific mention of the low morale problem among school personnel. Of course the remedy, according to Dr. White, is an across-the-board 5% pay raise for everyone. He cited the lack of a pay raise last year and the need to keep King William schools’ compensation attractive/competitive.

Last year in an effort to keep anyone’s take home pay from declining, measures such as higher co-pays and deductibles had to be raised in order to accomplish this. Have these folks already forgotten the hundreds of thousands of dollars that tax payers picked up in their increased health care costs?

In the economic contraction beginning in 2008 and lasting six years, did a single school employee get laid off or lose their job? Did one school employee have to take a pay cut? Did a single school employee have their pension contributions cut?  Did even one of them lose a week of the 12-13 weeks they get off each year ?

During that same period of time, millions of Americans were  laid off or their jobs eliminated. Millions took pay cuts and lost their companies’ matching contributions to their 401(k) plans. Millions found new employment elsewhere often, at wages well below the job they had lost. Millions had to absorb large cuts as escalating health insurance premiums ate into their take home pay.

Personally, I experienced  around a 30% reduction in my earnings for several years, and watched as my health insurance costs — 100% of which I pay myself — escalate from a manageable $3,000 annually to over $8,000 annually.

These folks, as Grandma used to say, “ought to count their blessings”. Their jobs are insulated from the ups and downs of the private sector where people underwent real and lasting economic pain.

The King William T.E.A. Party ran paid newspaper ads last year showing significant pay increases from 2012—2017 among the administrative staffs at the schools. The Assistant Superintendent alone went from $94,000 salary to $110,000.

As a spokesman for the maligned tax payers in King William, let me say this as bluntly as I possibly can…..” We are sick and tired of having to listen to the whining sob story each year from this crowd”.  If you believe you are not being adequately compensated for the nine-month-a-year job you have, if you don’t account for the Cadillac benefit package you have…..fine.  Quit your job at the schools and come out here in the real world and subject yourself to the same harsh reality the rest of us dealt with for 10 years. Stop whining and leave the cocoon you have been sheltered in for your entire career.

Bob Shannon is founder of the King William County T.E.A. Party (Taxed Enough Already).

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12 responses to “Educators, Stop Your Whining!

  1. I wouldn’t spend my life trying to educate the children of some of the whining taxpayers for double, triple what the current salaries are. My wife had had quite a few grateful students and parents over her four decades, and she’s still in the classroom plenty, but comments like these are a clear signal to the best and the brightest of the young folk – too few appreciate teachers, go find something else to do with your lives. Cops overpaid too, Shannon?

  2. We have the TEA party in Spotsylvania also and they too argue that higher taxes is wrong.

    Our BOS actually has several members who are either TEA party members or supporters of the principles of the TEA party.

    The basic argument – is should taxpayers have to pay increased taxes to pa for increased wages for teachers and if so where do they get the money to do so if they don’t get increases in their income?

    I do accept that argument.

    Our BOS basically refuses to increase the tax rate but increased revenues from higher valuations of property and business activities are used to pay the increased wages.

    In the end – if the values of people’s property goes up – then they end up paying more taxes – so we also do hear the words “equalized tax rate” and advocacy to reduce it – but that seldom happens.

  3. Here’s the key issue: Localities need to offer a pay/benefits package that is competitive with that of the private sector. How can you tell if it’s competitive or not? By looking at the rate of turnover and the number of vacancies. If teachers and administrators never leave their jobs, then the pay/benefits package probably is excessively generous. If a school district has chronic vacancies, then it’s not.

    I don’t know if anyone publishes data on teacher and staff turnover. I don’t even know if anyone collects the data.

    • There’s another aspect to the “low morale” issue. A reason I commonly hear for low morale has nothing to do with pay or benefits — it’s the declining discipline in schools and the unwillingness of administrators to back up the teachers in disputes with students and parents. That problem can’t be corrected by paying teachers more.

      • Another possible source of low morale could be the bureaucracy that is forced on teachers–the reports, lesson plans, SOL tests, etc. As for Mr. Shannon, some teachers in King William probably will quit–and go to Henrico, Hanover, New Kent, or other surrounding counties that would appreciate them more.

  4. Valid data has shown Fairfax County Public Schools were losing mid-career teachers due to pay levels. Note that I say pay levels because FCPS has pension plans that provide benefits not matched in either the public or private sector. The Schools and the County came up with a plan to phase in higher pay increases for mid-career teachers over general increases. Fiscal 2020 will be the last year of the phase-in.

    I supported this plan because the data was quite compelling. But I jump off the bandwagon when the Schools provide significant increases for jobs that are not experiencing significant job loss such as administrators. Either we follow markets or we don’t. I’m sick and tired of pay schemes that are designed to keep unions happy and providing campaign contributions to Democrats, which is largely what FCPS’s compensation plans do.

  5. I do not disagree with Jim’s point about following turnover rates (and I think somebody does) but I would add to it the importance of attracting quality applicants into the profession. Look to the production of teaching degrees, licenses and the scores on any exams used (PRAXIS). My guess is that fewer high quality college age students are eager to enter the profession, at least in part because of lack of perceived societal value. As evidenced by the tone of the original post. Young women in particular have way more choices now compared to 40 years ago.

    Moving from the classroom or a principal job to central office is and should be paid as a demotion. :O

    • Your last sentence hit on one of the problems in public education. Moving to a supervisory job is often the only way a good teacher can increase his/her compensation. Public education needs to create a system in which good teachers can be rewarded and still stay in the classroom if that is they really love and want to stay. The whole notion of teacher evaluation is fraught with difficulties and opposed by the professional education organizations, but other professions have ways of recognizing and rewarding those who are above average in their ranks. There could be a designation for a “master teacher” based on experience, principal evaluations, student and parent input, etc.

      • My wife had to move to a private school for that to finally happen.

      • Dick – a few years ago, Fairfax County Public Schools had a shortage of teachers during the school year of 200 plus. The administration offered to let any non-instructor qualified to teach to go back to the classroom to teach without any loss of compensation. According to several teachers I know, no one accepted the offer. While I can see paying a school principal and department heads more than a teacher, that’s about it. Being a general administrator should pay less than the classroom teachers.

        • I am surprised that no administrators took the county up on its offer. That sort of runs counter to my assumptions. However, it could be that going taking up a class in the middle of a school year was the turnoff.

  6. re: how much to pay, turnover rate,etc..

    they got an APP for that:

    Classification, Compensation and Benefits Study for Spotsylvania County Public Schools FINAL REPORT May 15, 2017

    In October 2016, Evergreen Solutions was retained by Spotsylvania County Public Schools (SCPS) to conduct a Classification, Compensation and Benefits Study for the Division. This compensation and classification study is primarily designed to focus on internal and external equity of both the structure by which employees are compensated as well as the way positions relate and compare to one another across the organization.

    External equity deals with the differences between what an organization is paying for each classification and what compensation is available in the market place for the same skills, capabilities, and duties.

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