In a press conference the other day, President Obama referred to a Boston teacher who has been laid off three times in the past four years because of budget cuts. Robert Barrows has a Masters degree and 20 years of teaching experience but, according to Obama, he cannot find a job. This is among one of the many reasons to quickly pass his jobs bill, otherwise known as “stimulus junior.”
Just one small detail here – Robert Barrows is not unemployed!
Spinmaster Jay Carney was called on it and in response said, "The President knows [Barrows’] story." In other words, Obama never met the guy!
Now, is this a real big deal in the grand scheme of things? Not really. Did President Obama cause some sort of national security issue because of this? No, but it continues to show a pattern of behavior of using every little thing to pull on the heartstrings of the easily swayed to get them to fall in line with your political agenda. In this case, we have to spend even more of your grandchildren’s money so that all the Robert Barrowses out there will have a good paying job. Being a former teacher myself, I thought I might help shed a little light on this "horrible predicament."
First of all, Massachusetts is a lockout state. If you want to be a teacher you must join the teacher’s union. The union, through collective bargaining, forces all the school districts to pay every teacher according to a scale based on their years of service. Teachers also generally get a pay bump for having advanced degrees. So, someone like Robert Barrows with a Masters degree and 20 years of service, would find himself in the upper echelon of pay in the Boston school system. Whether he is good at his job or not is irrelevant. A person with the same qualifications who is a lousy teacher will get paid the same exact amount as he does and, short of doing something illegal, you really can’t get fired from a teaching gig these days. Unlike the private sector, schools are not allowed to negotiate a pay cut to help you keep your job – it’s all or nothing. So facing such massive shortfalls, what is the school system to do?
Does the school system want good teachers? Yes! Would they prefer having somebody with years of classroom management experience? Of course! Do they have enough money to pay them? Thanks to the unions, no! So guess what happens? Robert Barrows gets laid off, due to the fact that he must get paid a high wage that the school can no longer afford. So what does the school do? They hire some wide-eyed innocent nub straight out of college and pay him the teacher’s equivalent of minimum wage.
This of course, happens in the private sector as well. Some companies will lay off the higher-paying workers who have years of experience but a high paycheck in lieu of the kid coming straight out of college. However, most companies that practice this technique generally don’t stay in business for long. In the private sector if you’ve been around for a long time, it’s probably because you’re very good at your job.
Another thing a private company can do, short of dumping you altogether, is negotiate down your paycheck. This is not an ideal situation for anyone, but ask the millions of Americans who are out of work at the moment if they would prefer half the salary of their last job and they would probably jump on it in a minute. Thanks to our good old teachers unions, you can’t do that in schools. How do I know this? Because it is happened to me!
I grew up hearing my dad constantly using the phrase "bleeding heart liberals." At first, I thought it was a medical condition. Now I know it is a mental condition. It comes from hearing politicians like Barack Obama churn out sob stories like this one (which is not even true!) over and over again until the knee-jerk reaction becomes natural. And of course, the natural remedy for liberals for conditions such as these is to throw more government money at the problem. It won’t work! It never has and it never will!
Perhaps instead of looking to uncle slam for yet another bailout paid out of our grandchildren’s piggy banks, we should be looking to loosening the grip of some of these unions that are simply parasites that just don’t know when to quit. Eventually they’re going to kill the host.