A Little Context for OFA’s Sob Story

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The latest item making the rounds is an e-mail from Organizing for America, the old Obama campaign appendage now grafted into the DNC. A teacher from Ambler, Pa. pleads that if we don’t shovel a huge chunk of money into the EduJobs rathole, it’s theoretically possible that someone “like me” could potentially lose a job.

With that special blend of entitlement mentality and self-righteousness only the blob has mastered, she solemnly intones:

I’m not a special interest. I’m a teacher.

(Portentious boldface in original.)

Jim Geraghty would like you to be aware of the numbers featured above – this teacher’s school district, Wissahickon, has an average salary almost half again as high as the state average salary. And that’s before we look at benefits, which are much richer for teachers than in the private sector. Geraghty remarks:

When the local board of education spends money at a rate that the local tax base cannot afford, those teachers who refuse to adjust their salaries to reality do start to look like a special interest.

Mike Petrilli hammers the point home:

Your job could easily be saved if your union leaders were willing to accept some modest concessions. (Even a salary freeze might do the trick.)  But when teachers demand job protections, generous benefits, and salary increases in the midst of a recession…well, that’s expecting special treatment, indeed.

Not to mention JPGB’s own Matt Ladner, commenting on the instantly-famous chart comparing private sector job destruction in the current crisis to government job protection:

The yellow line just put another $10 billion on the credit card of the red line. Let them eat cake!

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for these people.

3 Responses to A Little Context for OFA’s Sob Story

  1. Jeremy Johnson says:

    Greg, I have some sympathy with the arguments that you and Jim Geraghty make. But you undercut your own argument by comparing the Wissahickon salary with the salary of a worker in the state. Wissahickon is in the Philadelphia suburbs, which has a much more expensive cost of living than most of the rest of the state. It would be better to compare the Wissahickon teacher’s salary with the salary of workers in the county it’s in (probably Montgomery, but I’m not sure) or the township it’s in, since even Montgomery County has a lot of variation. Jim Geraghty knows little about the tax base in Wissahickon, I’m sure. Generally suburban Philly districts CAN support much higher salaries than other school districts in the state. That’s not particularly fair and worth talking about. But Jim G.’s shoddy analysis makes his point lose a lot of force.

  2. The teacher in question works in Philadelphia, not Wissahickon, and she’s a union rep at her school.

  3. James says:

    Intellectual honesty would demand that that graph be adjusted to show the median wage of a worker in PA with at least a college degree. If you were really interested in being accurate, you’d factor in the average number of years of experience for a teacher, as well as the percentage with advanced degrees or advanced specialized training, and account for that in your median PA worker’s wage as well.

    But of course, you don’t want to do that. Nor do you want to compare the average wage of a doctor or lawyer to the average wage in PA. How dare teachers expect to be paid commensurate with their value to society and the education and experience they have? They should learn to be wage-slaves and accept unstable jobs with no benefits and arbitrary pay cuts like private-sector employees who don’t have strong unions representing them.

    But by all means we must not look at a secure job with a living wage, good benefits and a pension as something that should be the norm for everyone, public sector or private – or else we might turn against our corporate overlords and demand a larger piece of the pie for everyday, normal Americans.

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