Kyle Olson
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Is it ever enough? That’s what citizens should be asking in Newark, where the teachers are claiming they are subject to “indentured servitude” for being forced to consider an “inhumane” collective bargaining agreement that many consider very union friendly.

The average Newark teacher’s pay is $57,926, according to teachersalaryinfo.com. That constitutes “indentured servitude”?

In 2011, EAGnews.org found that Newark teachers contributed a big fat zero to their health insurance benefits. Taxpayers, on the other hand, spent a healthy $111,742,197 to pay for teacher benefits. Yes, that’s $111 million to zero.

The school district receives a whopping $28,406 per student from state, federal and local sources. A great deal of that money goes to teachers for salary and benefits. That’s not enough to break the chains of servitude endured by the public school servants of Newark? If you listen to union activists, the answer would be “no.”

Newark union teachers have become unhinged at the idea of being held accountable for their students’ academic achievement. So much so, EAGNews.org reported, the union may actually reject the contract negotiated by its leaders, thereby snubbing a 14 percent raise.

One group of Newark teachers, known as the NEW Caucus, is trying to reject the new contract deal because it amounts to a “cut-throat business contract, not a social justice contract,” they group wrote in a critique of the proposed contract.

Apparently “social justice” is now the equivalent of paying everyone equally based on how long they’ve been there, not on effectiveness or positive impact on student learning.

And equating performance pay and bonuses to some sort of “cut-throat business” scenario says more about what the union teachers think of the free enterprise system than any reform being proposed in Newark. And we’re relying on these people to teach students how to function in a free market economy? Having to earn one’s pay is apparently tantamount to “indentured servitude” in the union world.

This is what happens when Big Labor is given the opportunity to call the shots. They do it all in a way that is in their best interest, and not in the best interests of students, parents and certainly not taxpayers.

Nevertheless, the NEW Caucus is urging a “no” vote on the contact because:

“This is not a social justice contract that views public education as a sacred duty that the state and local governments owe to all students, parents, and education workers. This is a cut-throat BUSINESS contract that will bring the forces of the market to public education. It turns education into a business which does nothing to directly address student needs. In fact, many of these provisions will ultimately hurt students.”

“When the Baltimore Teachers Union was initially faced with a merit pay proposal in 2010, they turned it down. But after Randi Weingarten and the AFT went there to convince the Baltimore teachers that this was a good contract, a second vote passed merit pay and the contract provisions. Since then, the number of unsatisfactory evaluations—ineffective—shot up throughout the city, in some schools as high as 60%. Let’s not repeat these same errors. Vote no, organize our union, and demand a truly fair contract that works to serve the interests of all students and education workers in Newark.”

We think the NEW Caucus is actually suggesting that evaluations should be cancelled because too many teachers flunk. The idea is to find teachers who will receive good evaluations meaning they adequately teach kids.

Apparently to these teachers, $57,926 per year is not enough to convince them to work harder to improve miserable student test scores, like a 56 percent proficiency rating in science for 8th graders or a 45 percent proficiency rating in math for the same students, according to GreatSchools.org.

To Newark teachers, academics are just great the way they are. Unacceptable levels of student achievement are not a bother. Spending $28,406 per student to achieve such pitiful results is not a concern.

But holding teachers accountable? That’s “inhumane” and is tantamount to “indentured servitude.”
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Kyle Olson

Kyle is Founder and CEO of Education Action Group Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.