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Office of Assemblyman Ray Haynes | January 2005 | Assemblyman Ray Haynes

Posted on 02/18/2005 12:10:31 AM PST by GVnana


by Assemblyman Ray Haynes

The most interesting proposals in last week’s state of the State speech by Governor Schwarzenegger were the merit pay for teachers and the idea for changing how public employee pensions are handled. Both ideas have raised the ire of the public employee unions, and neither is likely to move very far in the California Legislature.

Merit pay for teachers is a very simple idea. Our school system should reward the good teachers. Currently state law mandates that each school district adopt a “single salary schedule”, and that pay increases can only be granted on the basis of education and length of service. That means that every teacher, no matter how good or how bad, gets a raise by hanging around a school district and taking a few classes at college, even if none of their students ever learn a thing.

There is no reason why the state has to have a law dictating how a school district determines the salary of its teacher in the first place. The Schwarzenegger proposal is simply to give an extra financial reward for doing a good job. His idea doesn’t even require the removal of a bad teacher, he just says pay the good ones more than the bad ones.

The teacher’s union is howling mad at that proposal. Why? Because they know that in order to reward a good teacher, the school district is going to have to test students to see how much the students have learned.

If a school district can use test scores to reward the good teachers, that district will also have the information to determine the bad teachers. Good teachers don’t need a union’s help to get and keep their jobs. Bad teachers do. Good teachers won’t see a need for the union, and that is what has got the unions worried.

Schwarzenegger’s proposal for merit pay will help good teachers, improve student learning, and restore parent’s confidence in the schools. It will also undercut the power of the unions in schools, which is exactly why the union, and their Democrat hirelings in the Legislature, won’t enact the proposals.

His second proposal – basically to give every state employee a 4019k) retirement plan funded by the state is also drawing the union’s fire.

Today, the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) Board and the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS) Board controls the retirement of the teachers and public employee, and the unions control the boards.

CalPERS has over $180 billion in assets, and is one of the largest institutional investors in the world.

There are recent revelations that CalPERS has awarded multi-million dollar contracts of questionable value to donors connected politically to democrats and has used its power in the stock market to press a union agenda on Wall Street. In addition, bad investment decisions by CalPERS has cost the state billion in pension payment, and nearly bankrupted the system.

If individual employees controlled their own pension plan, three bad things (from the union’s perspective) would occur. First, the union couldn’t use CalPERS to influence Wall Street, severely diminishing the political power of the unions. Second, the employee would no longer need the union to protect his or her retirement, making state and local employees less dependent on the union leaders. Finally, the employee would be able to keep the money he or she invest in the pension upon the employee’s death, making the employee’s families wealthier. The wealthier a family is, the more they dislike union leaders.

In both proposals, taxpayers, students, teachers and state employees would be better off. Union leaders would be worse off, in that they would lose power, control and wealth. Look for these leaders to fight Governor Schwarzenegger to the death, no matter how bad it is for their members.

Assembly Ray Haynes represents the 66th Assembly District in California. Redistribution or reproduction of this article with attribution is permitted and encouraged!

TOPICS: Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: california; calpers; calstrs; employees; schwarzenegger; stateofthestate; teachers; unions
I see ballot initiatives...
1 posted on 02/18/2005 12:10:31 AM PST by GVnana
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To: GVgirl
test students to see how much the students have learned.

That would be a great idea. I hope Gov. Schwarzenegger can get some sort of his plan to pass, whether through the statehouse or through the ballot box.

The only minor problem with determining who the good teachers are, based on test scores, is that some teachers are burdened with bad students. A 5th grade teacher in a heavily Hispanic school in east Los Angeles told me she had students who could not read or perform simple addition. If a student cannot master 1st grade topics, why is he the responsibility of a 5th grade teacher who ought to be teaching subjects on the 5th grade level, and why must other children suffer if the teacher must teach remedial lower grade lessons? If the child fails an aptitude test, will only the 5th grade teacher be responsible, or will the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teachers share in the culpability?

Maybe teachers should stay with a class of students for a few years. If a student fails to learn something one year, the teacher must make the extra effort to ensure the student learns (or must fail the student), instead of just "passing the buck" to promote the student to the next higher grade without the skills he needs to learn at that level.

2 posted on 02/18/2005 12:58:41 AM PST by heleny
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To: heleny
Schwarzenegger did address that point recently, and proposed a merit pay program for teachers in difficult schools. I don't have the specifics on it.

I'm not a fan of public schools, but opening records on performance standards and achievement would be an improvement.

3 posted on 02/18/2005 1:14:34 AM PST by GVnana (If I had a Buckhead moment would I know it?)
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