That’s One Powerful Union!

From Ron Williams’ op-ed piece in the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal    Sunday, December 5, 2010

That exclusive $100,000 club

A little quiz for Baby Boomers: What were the two most underpaid but highly necessary professions when we were growing up?

That would be teachers and cops.

But going through the 17-page list of state employees who earn over $100,000 shows that things have changed for those professions.

If you exclude the lawyers, judiciary, physicians, cabinet secretaries and certain elected officials, the $100,000-plus listings reveal mostly former teachers who are now assistant principals and above and state police troopers.

Both professions are represented by strong unions and both have their own payroll standards separate from regular state employees.

Plus the troopers get to take their patrol cars home. Not too shabby a deal compared to life as a cop in the 1950s.

Hmmm,… really? Teacher unions are responsible for expensive administrative contracts? How does that work?

Well, it is not hard to figure out that Mr. Williams’ premise is way off the mark.  It would be easy to just let it lie, to just assume that not many people caught the remark, or that folks would certainly know that this does not make sense. However, it does beg the question, “Since when do teacher unions in Delaware represent administrators?

I was compelled to respond—I sent this letter-to-the-editor to the NJ. The letter was finally published today. Woo-hoo!

To Whom It May Concern:

Mr. Williams is correct in his assertion that strong unions represent teachers and other education professionals. He is also correct that different types of school employees have different salary schedules than other state workers.

However, one fact is paramount: teacher unions do not run public school districts.  School boards and their appointed administrators have that role under Delaware Code.

Williams’ implication that teacher unions are somehow responsible for school administrators receiving annual salaries that exceed $100,000 is simply hogwash.  Moreover, in Delaware, neither DSEA nor any of its local associations represent school administrators at any level—not building administrators and not district office administrators.  Beyond the state supplement for certain administrative positions, the total salary allowance is determined by each school district.

The complaint that most current high-paid administrators were once teachers is an irrelevant point.  Of course many of them are former teachers.  This is common sense. How many managing partners in law firms started out as junior members?      

Finally, I assure you that not even the highest paid teacher with a doctorate and many years of successful teaching experience comes close to a $100,000 salary.  We top out after 22 years with a salary of around $83-84,000. Given the important role we play in our society, I actually think that that this is a paltry sum, particularly given the responsibilities of the job.

Frederika Jenner            

Former President, Red Clay Education Association

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This entry was posted in Education Professionals, School Administrators, Teacher Unions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to That’s One Powerful Union!

  1. jack says:

    I would like to see the teachers who job security is determined by the performance of our children being paid more than highly paid administrators, supervisors and specialist whose job security is not determined in any way by the performance of our children. I also feel teachers should be paid different when job security is not determined by performance of our children. {If principals jobs are on the line based on performance, they should be paid more.}
    One final comment, I wonder how many district level administrators, supervisors and specialist work at home, stay after hours and spend their own money to purchase supplies other than classroom teachers?

  2. Frederika says:

    Not many, Jack. I always thought that a former principal was amazingly generous–always bringing Danish to early morning meetings and sodas for after-school–until somebody pointed out to me that he was using money from the school budget. Still nice that he went to the trouble, but no longer out of his pocket. Meanwhile, I was spending hundreds throughout the school year.

    The weight of accountability falls on teachers more than anyone else. I do not mind being held accountable–I have sensed and responded to accountability from the day I walked into a classroom–accountability to the kids, their parents, and the school. But, there does not seem to be much accountability fallout for administrators at every level.

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