Denver Public Schools strike offers real teachable moment

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

I know I shouldn’t touch this, but some days and some times just call for someone to say something. Isn’t that one of core problems when it comes to teachers and their pay? Unless it’s overflowing with worship, commentary is simply no longer allowed.

I know nearly every time I make a statement on social media addressing the problems of school funding, teacher pay or anything educational, I’m called anti-education. Well, if wanting better facilities, better pay and better classroom situations via discipline, curriculum, fiscal responsibility and free-market answers is anti-education, I’ll wear the label.

The secondary, and by far biggest, problem isn’t what teachers want, it’s with their employers — which in turn affects their customers and folks who fund their product, parents and taxpayers. I mean, just about everyone I discuss education issues with has the same subject of their attention in terms of where much of the troubles of education lie: the government.

They might come at it from different angles, but it’s always the main source of problems. Yet, every time a pay raise is desired, problems need to be solved, buildings need to be brought back from ruin or built and what’s being taught needs changing one way or the other, where is the only place teachers, employees, taxpayers and parents can go? That’s right, the government and the giant, unworkable bureaucracy it’s created in controlling our education system.

What does government do in response? In the case of teacher pay, it usually gives in. Government doesn’t negotiate with profits or its own money, making the talks anything but reality based. The facts are simple here. The government will just come back to taxpayers to confiscate more wealth — all under the protection of smashing any opposition as anti-education — or change the rules to alter how education is funded to benefit one district at the expense of others.

When it comes to our government giving an arbitrary, across-the-board, average 11 percent wage increase to Denver teachers, I must ask just how this agreement is “… a win, plain and simple for our students, for our teachers and for our communities.” Although I do see how that quote is allowed under the politically correct speech of the day. It’s basically a couple extra bucks an hour for people I hear are overworked and underpaid — and will be back at the trough in a year or two anyway.

Here’s another problem this government wage-rigging monopoly causes. One of the main concerns of both the Denver Public Schools and teachers’ union was other districts close by were paying better wages and taking teachers away from Denver. In other words — besides admitting that competition in wages and, well, EVERYTHING, is a good thing —
government has taken away a competitive advantage other schools districts have over Denver to make things more fair for Denver schools because Denver suffered  a 20 percent turnover rate. That was created, ironically, by wages put into effect by the Denver Public Schools and teachers’ union. No wonder union membership is mandatory. Who would want to join a group doing such a bang-up job?

Now both sides seem to agree on what’s a new, livable wage for Denver teachers. It comes to about a dollar or two an hour pay raise over the course of a salaried year — worse, the sticking point was only about $300 a year based on initial offers on updating the contract. Let’s not mention how somehow before, a STARTING wage of almost 44 grand a year wasn’t “livable” for Denver teachers.

None of these factors address the core problem with education. So at great risk, this son of two teachers and father of two successful students in District 51 because he’s involved in their schooling will say some things that aren’t really allowed to be said about our education system.

The problem isn’t taxpayers, it’s somewhat parent-based, a lot student- based and it’s the poisonous fruit of the same tree: your employer.

You see, Denver teachers, your employer creates many of the economic factors in the areas where “high-poverty” schools exist. Your employer creates situations where some jobs are harder to fill than others. Your employer has arguably done more than any entity to destroy two-parent families and make teachers caretakers instead of educators. Your employer sets the wages of your and surrounding districts by using unfair and inequitable disbursements of funds based on special interests or favored districts. Your employer has created and managed our local, state and federal education systems into the mess they’ve become today — all with the help of your mandatory union. And that’s just how they want it.

So what do I wish for when I wish our education system would perform at the level we fund it? I wish once, just once, for solutions that aren’t a government-union-bureaucracy-based fleecing of taxpayers and are instead free market-based solutions. After all, free market solutions are how your monopoly is funded, so why can’t they be the solution? Other than government-union control of the power and money, that is.