While the AFSCME is stuck acting like all its members are police and firefighters, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) has the ultimate defense: Think of the children! Too often, this line is all it takes to deflect criticism, allowing the OEA to resume talking about the terrible things that would happen to teachers absent unionization.
See, for instance, the OEA press release opposing Senate Bill 5:
“The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is gravely concerned that the Ohio Senate is not making Ohio’s children a priority. In a tough economy and facing a major budget deficit, Ohio must focus on the essentials, and nothing is more essential than giving our children a quality education that prepares them for good jobs.”
It’s tough to track proficiency test scores due to gaps in Ohio Department of Education data, but graduation rates fluctuated from 80-87% during the past decade while spending persistently increased. Federal data hardly support the “more money means more learning” school of thought. But, “giving our children a quality education” is a better pitch than “continuing unreasonable pay to tenured union members.”
Who but a union would insist merit pay is the wrong way to encourage hard work and reward the best educators? That anyone capable of enduring several years as a teacher should have a job for life, with longevity raises on top? That charter schools and vouchers should never be tried? As with AFSCME Council 8 & Local 11, the OEA stands between Ohioans and the services our tax dollars fund.
Exciting OEA Facts, Fiscal 2009
- $22,771,159 paid to union officers and staff — equal to $176.71 per member
- 143 union employees paid more than $70,000
- 117 union employees paid more than $100,000
- 12 union employees paid more than $150,000
- Executive Director Larry Wicks paid $208,469
- Executive Director Dennis Reardon paid $202,997
- $8,151,341 spent on benefits — less than 36% of the amount disbursed to union officers and staff
- $25,000 given to Policy Matters Ohio, a far-left Cleveland think-tank (09/23/2008)
- $10,000 sent to Colorado education union (10/17/2008)
- $10,000 sent to Oregon education union (10/27/2008)
The OEA also found $1,614,690 in the couch cushions to donate to Democrat campaigns in the 2010 cycle, according to records from the Secretary of State.
It comes to this: should we buy the OEA’s sales pitch about outsized union influence being the route to effective education? Or should we resist demands to further increase taxes, disassemble the union machine, and allow teachers, parents, and school districts to make their own decisions? This is what an attorney might call a leading question.
If you need more convincing that public unions are no good for Ohio, see Matt Mayer’s 02/15/2011 testimony before the Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee of the Ohio Senate.