Teachers’ retirement security hurts students? Of course it doesn’t. But that’s what Michelle Rhee, corporate-backed union buster and founder of the education “reform” organization StudentsFirst would have you believe.
I literally laughed out loud while reading the group’s 2013 report card this morning. It grades states based on how well they are doing passing teacher-bashing measures and handing over control of our kids futures to less accountable, for-profit entities. So it’s no surprise that “pension reform”—lauding states that have slashed the retirement security of middle class teachers—made the grading rubric.
Making more money off of your homeroom teacher’s retirement is on Wall Street’s wish list, along with freeing up more taxpayer funds from teacher pensions to go to those aforementioned for-profit entities. It’s about enriching the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
Never mind the fact that there is something supremely bizarre about encouraging more employers to provide 401k’s instead of pensions, which are still the best avenue to retirement security. StudentsFirst claims this move increases portability. Yet almost all teacher retirement systems are state based, meaning that teachers can work in any public school in the state and have the same pension. Sounds pretty portable to me.
In StudentsFirst Orwellian-speak, it’s simply about “spending money wisely.” But here are some things that didn’t get scrutinized under the banner of spending money wisely: textbook and school equipment prices, or funds that are spent on corporations. Coincidence? I think not.
For a great primer on how corporations are privatizing our schools with the help of groups with like StudentsFirst, check this out.
Turning pensions and other school functions over to corporations won’t improve our schools. But one of the best ways to improve our schools and help our students is to have well-qualified and well-compensated education professionals. It’s too bad StudentsFirst didn’t grade on that.