John Bel Edwards is going to continue to tout his successful push to get more money for teachers’ paychecks. He’ll say it was a near-legendary accomplishment in education because pay for teachers was far below the regional average or it had been stagnant or whatever else he can think of.
Now, the fact of the matter is that, yes, he did announce his plan to push for a raise, and yes, it did happen. Keep in mind, though, that he only went for $1000. Not $1200 or $3000 as was proposed by others, but $1000.
That one thousand dollars amounts to an extra $83.34 per month before taxes, union dues, etc., and it is not enough to even buy groceries for the average Louisiana family for a week. It is hardly a raise, but more a reminder of the games people play with numbers. $1000 per year sounds great, but $84 per month does not.
Why that number? Because it was enough to use the surplus money we had without raising new taxes or cutting government spending (and since it’s Edwards we’re talking about, raising taxes would have been the only option, obviously).
That raise is going to be spun not just as a teacher pay raise, but an “investment in education,” a really magical phrase that means absolutely nothing. When the government says it is “investing in education,” what it means is that it’s spending more money on public education, which does not have a great rate of success in actually educating students in Louisiana. Sure, it’s getting better, but overall the state’s education system has a long way to go.
It is this “investment” in public education that proves that John Bel Edwards is not interested in how your child is educated. If that were the case, money would have been set aside to create incentives to perform better, create competition in the education marketplace, or even just shake things up a bit. But, we did not get that. That would be good for children. It would be good for parents.
It would not be going for the teachers, their unions, and the status quo.
Edwards and his allies follow the same line of thinking that the national Democrats do.
Parents, you are on your own.
— Citizen Stewart (@citizenstewart) July 7, 2019
It all comes down to the same, tired arguments. The only way to make education better is to put more money into it – that old “investment” claim again – but no one will explain how all the previous money dumped into education failed to meet the needs last time, other than say “I guess it wasn’t enough!”
What if, now follow me on this, but what if we instead took that money and used it to challenge districts to do better?
Look, I know from spending the last five years in a classroom that teachers are as much bogged down by bureaucracy as they are by the actual teaching. In many cases, the bureaucracy is actually the most challenging and time-consuming aspect of their careers. You can’t say “Let’s challenge the teachers to do better” if you are not going to work to solve the problems that can hinder a teacher from performing to the best of their ability.
Louisiana has great teachers. I work with several. But, several of those teachers have to bring their work home. The nine hours during the day becomes another two to six hours a night at home.
If it were really about creating a better state of education, it wouldn’t just be a raise for teachers. Teachers deserve a raise, don’t get me wrong, but that should be managed at the local level. The school districts should have full power over that. We should incentivize school districts to find ways of alleviating the problems their teachers face, give them the tools they need to succeed, and then give a portion of the surplus money to the districts that deserve it. The other portion needs to go into programs that can help struggling schools and districts succeed.
I’ve long called Edwards’ pay raise a kickback to the teachers’ unions in the state, and the behavior of Edwards and his allies proved it. There is no rush to actually create a better education environment for your students. There is just a plan to hand out money and make it seem like something good happened.
But, nothing is actually better as a result of this. Nothing is going to improve. And as a result, your child’s education won’t get better, their prospects won’t get better.
He’s not on your side. He’s on his own side, which only wants to get re-elected this year.