Bossier Parish voters have a chance to return in kind the area’s teacher union’s display of three fingers and request of the public to read between the lines.
The sore losers at Red River United sent out a tone-deaf call to boycott some area businesses and individuals related to these. The list contained large donors to campaigning against propositions for property tax hikes that would have sent Bossier City school taxes 40 percent higher and made the district by far the highest property-taxed in the state.
Instead, voters crushed the items at the ballot box by about three to one. About 90 percent of the pair’s avails school leaders had pledged towards salary increases to educators and support staff, with the remainder going towards technology updates.
Days after the defeat, union officials posted on social media the list and an explanation. Reading it makes one hope its use of fact and logic reflects only the reasoning abilities of union bosses, because if the message’s inferior use of these actually comes from teachers, area children are in big trouble.
Declaring the tirade against “businesses who paid to oppose … while providing no solutions,” it also voiced solidarity with the district’s administration “for their steadfast support.” The boycott by district employees, it claims will send a message for “the business community to work for the school system, not against it.”
Of course, suggesting that business representatives were “providing no solutions” is a lie. More than one publicly said they might support a sales tax increase in place of the failed taxes, which certainly seems like one way to “work for the school system.”
Stupidly, the document conveys that Bossier voters simply are automatons being led around by the nose by some area businesses. After all, it implies that if these businesses hadn’t taken such an active role against the tax increases, the measures would have passed, as if voters themselves never would have weighed whether the hefty hike – about $232 annually for the parish’s median home value with a homestead exemption – was in their best interests and/or the best way to assure pay raises for teachers.
And plenty of evidence suggests that the people absolved by the group for allegedly subpar salaries, the district’s leadership, are exactly the ones to blame. If the district ranks among all districts in the state 45th in state money received per pupil but 27th in local dollars collected, shouldn’t it pay better than 45th? The problem isn’t that the district doesn’t squeeze enough money from citizens, but that it assigns a lower priority to using existing revenues to pay teachers than to spend on other things.
Then there’s the lack of logic in thinking a boycott could happen or would make any significant impact on much of the list. Want a car? Well, guess you’ll have to drive to Minden, Mansfield, or Texas to get it, as just about all the new and used car dealers in Caddo and Bossier Parishes appear on the list. How about a new home? For that big ticket item very price- and area-sensitive, you can greatly restrict your location and pay much more by excluding names on the list from consideration.
Additionally, how many educator families are going to run out and buy ice machines, hardware for oil and gas exploration, or deal in commercial real estate? Also, do they really think a national painting and decorating firm or consortium of commercial builders would feel the impact of a local, limited boycott? Plus, would they ever deal with land or oil and gas investment entities? Most of all, will they actually stay away from the region’s largest and most diversified liquor stores, which sell much of the area’s spirits at retail?
A few on the list typically would receive patronage from the general public, but the large majority on it have no chance of feeling affected by a boycott of a small portion of the population. In addition, did the union ever consider that their call could backfire – that voters grateful that these firms and people helped deter an unnecessary reach into their wallets might increase their patronage of the donors? After all, there are at least three times as many of them as there are teachers who wanted to help themselves to the tax increase.
To call the boycott idea half-baked does it too much credit. In reality, it represents a mirage of potency, imagery from an organization that overwhelmingly couldn’t deliver what it’s designed to do – transfer taxpayer dollars to members. The public best responds to this provocation by thanking these donors and haranguing Bossier school officials to make better spending choices with what taxpayer money they have.