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Maintain benefits choice to increase education quality

The empire strikes back with HB 156 by state Rep. Harold Ritchie, a bill that would force teachers working in charter schools to be members of the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, in an effort to hold onto to its slipping power.

The charge is led by one of the faithful props of the current collectivist public education system in the state, teacher unions. These organizations have opposed bitterly the charter concept from the start because it gives them less control over education in the state and create a more competitive environment that better prices the quality of education delivered to actual performance, interfering with their strategy of ensuring the biggest transfer of taxpayer dollars for the least amount of work from their members.

Union mandarins claim that when charter schools were established (over their objections), there was some kind of understanding that their teachers, who are technically government employees as a charter school is in essence a public school with greater management latitude, would have to be members of the TRSL. Instead, 17 of the 66 current charter schools have had the audacity not to opt in to the system, flexibility this bill would deny.

Advocates of choice on this issue argue the inherent nature of a charter school is the greater freedom in management, of which this decision comprises one part, allowing it to produce superior education. Opponents claim, as one of their leading dunderheads opined, the current arrangement “find[s] ways to undermine teacher benefits or workplace rights.”

The mentality behind such a statement is fascinating and telling. Essentially, the complaint in part is that without enough warm bodies being forced into the system with their wages garnished into it, perhaps (we don’t actually know given market performance or demographics of the future) either benefits will not be as high as they could be, or current contributions will have to rise leading to less take-home pay. Worse, it could actually encourage teachers to want to leave the monopolistic environment that unions can influence for others not so restrictive. Thus, the jackboot of government must come down on those charter schools that offer greater freedom and those teachers wanting to make the uncoerced choice to work in them.

And what “workplace rights” are being violated? The right to be forced to pay into a system you may not wish to be in? Since when did a pension become a “right?” (Ironically, the whole concept of retirement and health benefits offered by employers came about because of another instance of government intervention into markets, wage controls during World War II.) Workers “rights” are advanced most when they can choose among competing employers where one point of differentiation may be whether they must be forced to contribute to a retirement system.

In the end, such a policy decision must be driven by the paramount consideration of educational quality. Charter schools exist because they deliver better on this account than otherwise, and part of their ability to do so comes from the greater decentralization in their governance that this bill would disallow. As always, it’s better to put the imperative of better education ahead of the needs of unions and the rest of the education establishment, which means defeat of this bill.

1 comment:

Kenneth Sims said...

not giving gov't employees the freedom of choice? how American!