When somebody tells you they took a pay hit, do you assume they’re going to make more money, or less money? Usually, I guess, when you TAKE a hit, you’re going to make less. I suppose, in a poker sort of sense, if you GET a hit, you might make more money.
Matt DeFour’s article in the State Journal Monday says the average increase in teacher pay and benefits across Wisconsin is 3.75%. The headline writer didn’t do DeFour any favors when he or she headlined the article “Teachers’ pay, benefits take hit.”
I’ll take a hit like that any time.
Too many folks that I know personally have taken one hell of a hit in their pay in the past couple years, a few of them taking a 100% hit and being shown the door in this crappy economy. I don’t begrudge the teachers’ pay and benefits increase at all. Some of my pals are teachers, I have been a faculty adjunct at 3 Universities, and my “baby” sister is a teacher in the Oshkosh school district. The work is hard and not everyone has a talent for it.
Years ago, when I wrote and delivered daily editorials for a local radio company, I would rail against the way the Madison school superintendent (back then, it was Art Rainwater) would position an actual increase in the school budget as a “cut”. Art was always talking about all the cuts he’d have to make if the voters didn’t approve whatever spending referendum was up for a vote, when the fact is that what was being “cut” was the RATE of INCREASE.
If in a “normal” year you were used to increasing operating budgets by, say, 10%, and you were forced to lower the next year’s increase to 8%, I suppose you could call that a “20% cut”. (No, it’s not a “TWO percent cut” – two percent of 10 is 0.2, which is a two-tenths of a percent cut. It’s a two percentage-point cut, to be technical.) But in the crazy world of school (and, often, government) finance, an increase is often referred to as a cut.
No matter how you choose to phrase it, nor how poorly and misleading the story’s headline is written, our state’s teachers are going to do all right. Maybe not as good as they’d like (don’t get me going about Viagra for the Milwaukee teacher’s union), but they’ll be OK.
But the way we finance public education in this state is appallingly and disgustingly wrong and broken. That’s what really needs to get fixed, not just the way the headline portrays the story.