The next time you hear of a school district that cannot afford new textbooks for its students, or is forced to lay off teachers due to budget constraints, remember the following story.
A former public school superintendent in Wayne Township, Indiana is comfortably settling into retirement, thanks in large part to a $1 million golden parachute provided by the local school board. He was given a lump sum payout of $817,000 plus another $200,000 for his 150-day reign as “superintendent emeritus.” I’m not sure what a “superintendent emeritus” does, but hey, it only cost the district $1,300 a day. I’m sure the taxpayers got their money’s worth, don’t you?
Unfortunately, this story is not an anomaly.
Consider the case of Central Falls, Rhode Island in which a city and its school system both teeter on the edge of financial ruin. Bet those schools are paying their teachers next to nothing, right? According to the Wall Street Journal, the district’s teachers are paid four times the median household income.
And get this: last month the U.S. Department of Education awarded $1.3 million to the Central Falls School District as part of the federal government’s effort to help turnaround the nation’s worst schools. (Please note: laughing or crying are both acceptable reactions.)
My new documentary film series, “Kids Aren’t Cars,” exposes the waste and corruption found in school districts throughout Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
As I was making these films, I had two sad realizations. The first was that the public sector unions have done their jobs well. States throughout the country may be heading for insolvency, but the public sector unions have gamed the system and have expertly feathered their own nests.
Statistics show that wages and benefits of public sector workers have surpassed those of private sector workers. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder reports public pay has exceeded private sector pay for over a decade. I suspect that’s the same story in most states.