Christie Puts His Weight Behind Charter SchoolsSeptember 1, 2009
NJEA Members Refuse to Say “Baa”September 2, 2009
That’s the argument made today in The Record by the Ringwood Education Association and the Ringwood Board of Education to justify the newly-announced contract: annual increases for Ringwood teachers from 2009-2013 will be 4.4%, 4.45%, and 4.5%, with no contributions to medical benefits.
Perhaps anticipating a little blowback from the community, the two sides had their stories straight. Board member Janet Citranglo said, “I understand that in this economy many people in the private sector are getting less in raises. But when times are good, private industry also gives out much more than four percent.”
And a teacher said, “we never get out of the 4’s, no matter how strong the economy is.”
Okay. Teachers deserve fair increases. But is a steady 4+% annual increase justified because private industry increases ebb and flow with the economy? Not according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data shows that annual increases in the private sector this year were 1.5%. And, while that’s assuredly a low number, the private industry average from 2001 – 2008 averaged 4.5%. In other words, healthier years do yield healthier increases in non-teaching professions. But when you average out private industry salaries, teachers still come out ahead. (And we’re not going near health benefit non-contributions.)
The Ringwood settlement may be perfectly fair. And every indication is that both the Ringwood union reps and the teachers believe their own spin. But it’s much of a kind with the way we award teacher proficiency: more money for time served, regardless of performance. The Ringwood settlement — same increase for salaries, regardless of the economy — is a similar kind of lock-step vision of the teaching profession. Can we get over that already?