For as far back as I can remember, the Wheeling "newspapers" have not supported efforts to raise the salaries of West Virginia's public teachers. Sure, they're willing to praise them for the work they do but that's usually the extent of it. ("Teaching is a noble and important profession, blah, blah blah - but don't ask us to support paying them what they're worth." How about raising salaries so that the state will not be near the bottom in average salary? No, we can't afford it.) Specific attacks upon the profession are usually reserved for teacher unions which are often labeled as among the most powerful lobbies in the state. (There's a disconnect there -- if they're so powerful, why is the average teacher salary so far behind the national average?) Additionally, the "newspapers" have looked for other ways to attack the teacher unions. Earlier this year, for example, they campaigned hard for charter schools. See this morning's editorial for yet another way to bust the teacher unions or, or at the very least, diminish their importance.
The editorial floats the idea that the state should pay for teacher liability insurance so that teacher's would not need to be covered by their union. (Obviously, if the state pays for the insurance, it becomes one less reason for a teacher to belong to a union.) Last week, according to Sunday's Charleston Daily Mail, State Board of Education member Wade Linger proposed that the board provide a state-backed teacher liability insurance plan which would:
extend to the state’s 20,000 teachers taxpayer-funded legal protection from employment-related lawsuits.
Okay, teachers currently have liability insurance if they belong to the union. Both state union presidents saw Linger's proposal as a way of diminishing the power of the unions. Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, saw this proposal as union-busting in intent. As the Daily Mail relates, the AFT president went further:
Christine Campbell, president of West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, echoed Lee’s comments by saying teachers, for years, have asked the Legislature to expand their preparatory time, professional development and classroom resources, in addition to pay raises that would make the profession competitive with neighboring states.
“And we’re always met with ‘We’d love to do that, but it costs too much money,’” Campbell said.
“Well, where’s the money for this?”
To Campbell’s knowledge, there is no teacher outcry for expanded liability protection.
“We’d rather see our health insurance and pensions fully funded,” she said. “And they want to propose something we haven’t asked for?”
Campbell also questions the cost the state would incur if it offered such a plan.
“There’s a lot of questions,” she said, later adding that money would be better spent by providing additional resources to the classroom.
I doubt that Linger's proposal will actually happen and my hunch is that our local editorial writer knows that. Our writer, however, couldn't pass up an opportunity to take some cheap shots at teacher unions.
Two additional thoughts:
Board member Linger, you may remember, was one of the two state board members responsible for changing the state science standards back in December because it dealt with climate change: "We're on this global warming binge going on here." Yeah.
This editorial follows the classic Intelligencer pattern:
----- Don't publish the original news story or where the information came from so that the reader is dependent upon the writer for pertinent information. (This info clearly came from Sunday's Charleston Daily Mail although the editorial doesn't cite it.)
----- Pick and choose only that which supports the editorial. Opposing points of view should be limited and strong opposing points should be ignored. (This editorial cites the short Lee quote but totally ignores the stronger explanation provided by Campbell.)