Absecon & Other NJ Teachers Get Paid Too Much
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from January 6, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties)
Last month the Absecon Board of Education and the NJEA (Teacher’s Union) agreed to big teacher pay hikes for each of the next three years.
Why? Absecon already pays a 23 year old kid out of college, with no experience, $45,000 for the first year. Then automatic pay hikes every year push that salary to $80,500 per year by the 30th year. That requires a few more courses at nearby Stockton College. But taxpayers, not the teacher, already pay for them.
Absecon teachers have plenty of time to take the courses. They work 182 days, or 37 weeks a year. They have summer, winter, and spring vacations, a slew of holidays, their two day union meeting in November, etc. When teachers need “in service training”, teaching stops and kids are sent home or to a study hall.
An Absecon teacher can already retire after 30 years at age 53 with $44,275 plus free lifetime medical. But most get bored doing nothing, and make $50,000 per year “consulting” for some “non-profit” group funded by taxpayers while collecting their full pensions.
The workday for Absecon schools is 6 hours and 50 minutes. Many (but not all) teachers do extra “unpaid” work before and afterwards-but don’t most people in most jobs?
Absecon public school teachers already get ten days of paid sick (and “mental health”) days each year, two paid family illness days. up to three bereavement days, plus access to regular “paid family leave”.
Teachers get tenure after three years, which means they keep their jobs even if they burn out or are no longer effective. A teacher has to do
something like have sex with a student to get fired in New Jersey.
I am a lawyer, but I would make more money doing a lot less work if I were a public school teacher. I got one of the highest scores on the Alternate Route Teaching Test, and would close my office in a “New York minute” to teach in a suburban district like Absecon. Several of my lucky colleagues already did it.
But I will never get hired. There are hundreds of qualified applicants for every opening. And since public schools have no real competition, and suffer no consequences when they fail to teach, districts often hire teachers on politics and family ties rather than talent.
How did Absecon parents and taxpayers benefit by giving every teacher and other employee a pay hike of 4.5% retroactive to last September? Or by locking in those pay hikes for the next two years afterwards?
Which of Absecon’s best teachers threatened to quit if they didn’t get the pay hikes? What superstars were recruited because of them? Did parents and taxpayers urge the Board to raise their taxes?
I bet that salaries, benefits, and pensions based on salary are about 80% of the school budget. And I bet that every cop, fireman, and other government employee in Absecon’s city government now feels “entitled” to the same increase as the teachers.
That means every home and business in Absecon will pay at least 3.6% more per year on their property taxes for the next three years.
Where will this money come from, if most taxpayers now have a lot less money? If Absecon businesses are earning less, they have to raise prices, cut salaries and hours for employees, or close down and move. If homeowners are earning less, they have to pay less for clothes, cars, and vacations, buy less at local stores, and eat out less at local restaurants. Or they can just stop paying their mortgages, and let banks pay Absecon’s taxes with Bush-Obama bailout money borrowed from China – while it lasts.
Absecon is a small town. If you live there, why not contact your elected School Board Members William Thompson, Thomas Grites, Mike Assad, John Carroll, Mary Hughes, Patrick Malia, and William Neiderhofer and ask why they did it? If they say, “We had no choice”, ask how we can change that. Then let’s talk about it at our next Liberty and Prosperity breakfast!
Absecon, of course, is not alone. In the last few months, school boards in Buena Regional, Egg Harbor Township, Ventnor, and Maurice River Township School Districts gave similar 4.5% pay hikes. And public schools in the Cape May Special Services, Wildwood Crest, Cumberland County Vocational, Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township, Upper Deerfield Township, Southern Regional, and Vineland districts now start new college grads with no experience at more than $50,000 per year.
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM heard throughout South Jersey 8to 9 am every Saturday. For information, see www.libertyandprosperity.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.