Thursday, January 04, 2007

Teacher Unions

Following up on a report in yesterday's Tribune about teacher pay, Ethan points out something I had not thought of:

Since 1990, the average student population increase per district is .8% per year.

Since 1990, the average district revenue has increased 9.3% per year.

The underpaid teachers of Utah won’t see a penny of any increase in funding because The Legislature can’t increase teacher salaries. Districts do that. But they won’t.

Don’t teacher’s unions help negotiate better pay?

In Granite District, There is the Granite Educators Association. Most other districts have a similar union, which all work under the Utah Education Association. It seems the GEA etc are doing a hoorible job getting money from their districts.

Granted, some of the 9.3% has gone to computer labs and that sort of thing that didn't exist in 1990. Also, it soesn't include inflation taking up some of that 9.3%.

However, I see so much wasteful spending in our schools, it's rediculous. From school fish tanks to brand new computers in labs for elementary schools to replace 2-year-old computers that ran the exact same programs.

There is a problem with our education system, and it does need more money. However, money alone is not the only solution. My proposal (which is not completely fleshed out yet):

Have an auditing board for each school to go through every bit of the school's financial records, including monies gathered from local, district, state and federal dollars, plus monies recieved from donations and fundraisers. This auditing board will meet every two years, and will consist of the following persons: one member of the district school board, one member of the school administration, three members of the the school's PTA, one teacher from the school, one teacher from annother school, the state legislator representing the school's parents or the legislator's designee (but this person may not be an educator). The purpose of this auditing board is to focus on whether the school is getting the maximum educational benefit for their dollar. The board will send it's reports to the District Auditing Board. They will also set spending priorities for the upcoming two years.

The District Auditing Board will meet in alternating years from the School Auditing Board. Their Duties will be to review the School Auditing Board Reports and also to conduct their own similar audit on a district-wide basis. The District Auditing Board shall be made up of people not serving on school auditing boards and shall consist of the following persons: one member of the district school board, two members of the administration from each school type in the district (i.e. elementary, middle, and high) (in the event that a district only has one school in a school type category, one adminstrator is permitted per school type), five members of the PTAs in the district, one teacher from each school in the district, and two representatives of the teacher's union. Furthermore, each state senator with constituents residing in the district boundaries shall sit on the board, or shall appoint someone to represent them on the board, provided that the apointee is not an educator. This board will present it's findings to the Office of the Governor.

All Auditing Board reports will be matters of public record (with the exception of employees' personal data) and will be made available for public reviews during regular school hours at each school and at district offices. In addition, the reports are to be posted for the public on the district web site.

Note: For the past three years, I have been an employee of Granite School District. While I have secured other employment effective next week, I will continue with the district in a very limited role as a substitute teacher. The views expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Granite School District. Furthermore, I am vice chair of the Education Caucus of the Utah Democratic Committee. The views expressed do not reflect the views of the Caucus or the Utah Democratic Committee.

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