Government Spending

Congress Takes Food from Poor People to Win Teachers Union Votes


The House of Representatives bravely dragged themselves back to Capitol Hill from their traditional six weeks of stateside work-cation to lock down teachers union votes for November's elections today. The Senate had already passed a version of the $26 billion jobs bill, which includes $10 billion in grants to districts to keep up to 130,000 education jobs on life support. Where are they coming up with the money? At some point in the future, they're going to pay for part of it by cutting food stamps. (Which makes my ridiculous headline really kind of true.)

We've written lots about the ongoing threats of Teacherpocalypse 2010 and the crappy legislative results already here at Reason, so read all about it.

The prospect of starting school a few teachers down can be unnerving in any district, but funding an increasing portion of teachers' salaries from federal coffers isn't doing anyone any favors in the long run. This additional infusion of cash from Washington—teachers were also some of the biggest beneficiaries of stimulus spending—undermines state control of education and staves off much-needed reforms (and firings) at the state, district, and school level.

But now congressmen are hopping planes, trains, and automobiles to get back on the stump, their faced flushed with that special glow that can only come from spending other people's money for personal gain. Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.

NEXT: Is Ohio About to Execute an Innocent Man?

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  1. The headline isn’t kind of true. It is true. And it is only ridiculous becaue reality is ridiculous.

  2. funding an increasing portion of teachers’ salaries from federal coffers isn’t doing anyone any favors in the long run.

    D C

  3. Lord make me virtuous, but not just yet.

  4. It is the unions’ world. We just live in it. If those poor people have to go without to pay a teacher so be it. Like Michelle Obama said, we all have to sacrifice.

    1. She must have said that to the king of Spain?

    2. Yet I find it infinitely “interesting” that when asked to offset further unemployment benefits, Team Blue said there was absolutely nowhere they could make the change.

      It’s nice to see that their loyalties lie with large and powerful voting blocs rather than individuals.

    3. Being a teacher these days is sort of like being a vestal virgin in ancient Rome. They are heavenly souls above reproach. Except when they get raped by the god of war and give birth to the founders of empires.

      1. Actually, it’s more like being a complete illiterate who lacks intellectual qualifications to enter a professional field. People like that attend “education school,” then latch on to the government teat for dear life.

  5. At some point in the future, they’re going to pay for part of it by cutting food stamps.

    Yep. Just like they are going to reform Social Security.

    That and five bucks will get you a Starbucks.

  6. It’s all completely logical.

    A greater percentage of teachers vote than folks on food stamps who are going to vote Democrat anyway but don’t contribute much in the way of campaign contributions.

    A no brainer really.

    1. Actually, it’s more logical than that — they know that public employees benefits are a harder sell right now. So, cut food stamps later. But, when it comes time to cut food stamps later, they know that people will express shock and horror and wonder how this could have happened. (Presumably, it will happen while the GOP controls congress, and thus some people that aren’t paying attention will blame them). And faced with the prospect of starving children and people dying in the streets, the food stamp program will be brought back to its normal funding.

      1. I think you mean at a 15% increase in funding… You know, as an apology for even suggesting that babies be left to starve in the gutter.

  7. “”At some point in the future, they’re going to pay for part of it by cutting food stamps.””

    From my understanding food stamp money was increased a while a go. A relative was telling me there were ads running on tv to get people to sign up because the state had more money for food stamps than what they were giving out.

    If that’s true, don’t know that it is, then moving that money to something else isn’t a bad idea.

    The money for the teachers is a bad idea. This crap just adds a burden to the state coffers. Who will cover them next year? Not that the teacher’s union cares.

  8. Once again not one liberal troll on to defend this.

    1. Come on, only 8 posts. Give them time.

  9. The Federal bailout is just to hold us over until the economy rebounds.

  10. My abject hatred for the teachers’ unions just increased, which I didn’t even think was possible. What parasitic fucking scum.

    1. The determination of this Congress to extend and make permanent the current recession is impressive. Evil, suicidal, and stupid, but impressive.

  11. It would have been much better if they had found the money to “pay” for this boondoggle by cutting the program that gives poor kids free school lunches.

    1. Maybe there’s federal funding of school buses they could cut? Or something else to reduce the number of pesky students that teachers have to deal with? Because that’s one their goals, too: The studentless classroom.

    2. I don’t know about where you are, but where I live the schools offer free lunches to ANY child who comes, all summer long, 5 days a week. This is through the program that gives kids free school lunches. My friends all urge me to take my kids for a free lunch, but I never have because I know there’s no such thing, and since I can afford my own lunches it’d be immoral for me to sponge off the government.

  12. Today I bought a car I can’t afford. My plan is to “pay” for it by reducing my food budget in 2015.

  13. Congress Takes Food from Poor People to Win Teachers Union Votes

    That’s because the Teachers Unions already pledged their allegiance to the Dems flag…


  15. I believe this is the ____ Act of ____ HR 1586. Said to be recorded in the LOC as The XXXXXXAct ofXXXX

    Can the congress critters sink any lower?

  16. The problem is the deranged equation of being against teacher’s unions with being against education.

    And the problem isn’t even the teacher’s wages or pension benefits. It’s the rules that prevent schools from hiring, firing, and promoting based on merit.

    Anytime people threaten to make it easier to fire teachers, it’s as if someone nonsensically claims that they want children to be illiterate or something.

  17. Well obviously you don’t have children or you would know how important it is to get good teachers to stay in a district with no money for books, supplies, or hell…a SALARY. If you do have kids, I’m guessing they go to private school or a wealthy district. I happen to work for a wealthy district, but I know more than a handful of friends who lost their jobs because their district is flat broke. The ones who are “lucky” enough to have a job were told to make due with what is in school storage or buy what they need themselves. No reimbursement. Sorry, but I don’t know many people who would choose homeless people over children who still have a chance if that is the crossroads we’ve come to. There are lots of organizations who help the homeless in their cities. The federal government needs to focus less on people in society who’ve given up on themselves and their country. Don’t they give enough hand outs to people who don’t deserve it? I hope you aren’t suggesting homeless people are more deserving than America’s teachers and children. If you are, you are so out of touch that you should trade in your laptop and go join a bread line. Good luck.

    1. I happen to work for a wealthy district, but I know more than a handful of friends who lost their jobs because their district is flat broke.

      I love how teachers claim that the only possible response to school district budget deficits is teacher layoffs. It’s not. Cut the damn SALARIES and especially BENEFITS.

      Teachers in my district (in Michigan) lost jobs too…because — as always — the local teachers union preferred layoffs to accepting more than tiny wage concessions. All of the teacher jobs could have been saved with the same kind of concessions that the other district bargaining units accepted (e.g. the janitors). This is f#*(#king Michigan. Most of the education funding comes from the state and the state is broke. But teachers unions prefer layoffs (and larger class sizes — it’s all about the kids, right?) to wage concessions.

      1. They could cut the spending on things like totally updated computers. My kids’ school, which just opened last year with new computers, is getting new new computers for all the teachers this year, but they’ve fired all the expensive good teachers and are hiring cheaper replacements. Good teachers can deal with 1 year old computers, but new computers can’t help you with inexperienced teachers.

        So when you see that your district is firing teachers or cutting their salaries (if they’re not outrageously high), be sure to ask how much they’re spending this year on new computers. Betcha dollars to doughnuts it’s higher than last year.

    2. You don’t think homeless people have homeless children? Why would districts that have full payrole for teachers still be allocated this extra funding at the expense of the poor? Why do professionals need this funding at the cost of the most vunerable? By the way, the money is to be cut from food stamps and most food stamps recipents are the working poor, the families of the less wealthy school districts. It is not an issue of being out of touch. It is an issue of logic and morality.

  18. I’d be interested to know exactly where this kind of hatred towards teachers comes from. I became a teacher after I put myself through college to become a graphic designer. Too bad the ‘dot coms’ busted during that time. When I got out of school there were no jobs. I worked a crappy second shift job for six years just barely paid my student loans. I went back to school full time to become a teacher and worked full time simultaneously to finish what I set out to do – become a professional at something I love. I am way more fulfilled in what I do now, but I barely make more than I did before, less than $34,000. It would be OK, except now I have over $100,000 in student loans from 6 years of school. I certainly can’t afford a house and I live on about a $50 budget for food for two weeks and no, I don’t need or want government assistance. My situation is very common. I might not be “poor”, but I’m sure as hell not living the high life that some people seem to think teachers live. How anyone can think that teachers don’t deserve to make a living and that drunk, lazy, homeless leeches on society deserve handouts, I don’t understand. That might be a stereotype, yes…but show me an enterprising goal-oriented homeless person who cares about anyone but themselves. The ones who have written a book or appeared on ‘Oprah’ don’t count.

    1. “less than $34,000.”

      That’s at the very low end for the country and still great money for an 8 month low-medium skill job.

      “over $100,000 in student loans”

      For two cheap ass degrees. MC Hammer balances a checkbook better than you.

      “drunk, lazy, homeless leeches”

      We could give them teaching jobs.

    2. “I am way more fulfilled in what I do now, but I barely make more than I did before, less than $34,000”

      Please calculate the value of your benefits package (minus the tiny amount you may or may not pay in), add that to your salary of 34k, and come back with a real number based on your actual compensation.

    3. So negative judgements lacking truths are wrong to characterize teachers, but appropriate for the homeless. It sounds like you are only one step away from the shelter line. I hope you never have the same judgements you have passed on the homeless if this misfortune falls your way.

  19. I understand the point some people are making about unions. I do feel that there are teachers who are not fired even though they are not that great, though they are allowed to stay on because of tenure, when fresher- let’s face it, better- teachers are pink slipped. What makes me angry is that a lot of people honestly think that teachers make too much money, like it is the 19th century and we snaggletooth old maids should live on a loaf of bread and a wheel of cheese for a month and serve the public good in an oath of silence. Hmmm…I don’t remember taking that kind of oath, nor do I remember donning a habit. You get the good with the bad. What can I say, be more active in your district. Go to a board meeting and be heard where it counts I guess. Nothing you or I say on the Web really counts at all.

    1. This is why we dislike teachers (unions). You have two degrees and you still can’t understand why non-fireable people by definition make too much money. Fire them regularly for incompetence like the private sector and nobody will give a rats ass what they pay to hire and keep competent ones.

    2. Many teachers make $80,000 plus extravagant benefits for working 8 hours a day, 9 months a year. Yes, they make way too much money. If techers wanted to make more money, they’d enter real professions and compete for jobs. The fact that they choose not do so so proves the point.

  20. I hope beginning in January with a GOP Congress we’ll begin to see a more constructive approach to relieving fiscal stress on municipal government.

    Step #1
    Reverse the (1980’s?) Congressional Act that permitted public employees to unionize. Prior to that Congressional action there were almost no public employee unions except teachers.

    Step #2
    Release state & municipal government from all unfunded Federal mandates. Basically state that if a Federal statute, rule or regulation forces the local government to incur costs, it is no mandatory/enforcable unless the Federal government pays all costs in full including past costs.

    Ideally you’d want a clear ruling that most of these Federally imposed requirements are unconstitutional, but that can come later, after the Presidential election of 2012

  21. This is just campaign finance.

    Teachers keep jobs.
    Teachers pay union dues.
    Teacher’s union gives money to Democrats.

  22. We homeschool our two boys. A freshman and a senior. So I pay twice. Once when the school district holds a gun to my head so some ingrate can sit there and plan his next sexcapade, and then when I buy the curriculum that allows my boys to learn the way they learn best. Nobody asks me how I am going to pay increased taxes so the teachers get a 3.5% pay raise when all I got was a 1/2% pay raise. A graphic designer indeed, why should I pay for your poor choice of career. Where did you get the idea that choice of a career was worth that kind of gamble? Which is what a college education paid for by debt is.
    In my life, I have seen that “those who can’t do, teach”.
    The richest people in a town full of doctors, lawyers, and teachers, is the plumber, electrician, and the auto mechanic.

  23. We have twice as many teachers per student as 30 years ago and are paying three times as much in adjusted dollars (there’s a graph of this floating around the intertubes), and test scores have barely moved. That’s despite all the intervening progress in computers, psychology, etc.

    Let’s face it: more teachers/educrats makes life easier FOR TEACHERS, who are already grossly overpaid and allowed to keep their jobs regardless of incompetence. It does nothing for students.

    When we’ve laid off half the teachers and cut the remaining half’s salaries by 50%, THEN they can whine about how tough it all is.

  24. When will some conservative stand up to the “losing teachers” demagoguery and say “pay cut”.

    It’s like the only choice is layoff or pay raise. It’s ridiculous. If the state government honestly give them a choice and lay it out to the voters, they will skirt all of the democrat demagoguery.

  25. I am a public school teacher (not a union member). My understanding is that money like this will NEVER be used for teacher salaries, because they can’t count on it for the next year. I find it frustrating that more isn’t done to investigate how school districts spend their money – most districts have far more money than they need, yet buildings are in disrepair, technology and books are outdated, and teacher salaries are far lower than they should be. It’s not that we taxpayers aren’t giving enough money for education – it’s how the money is allocated within the school systems. Most school systems (and schools themselves) are top heavy with administrators who don’t do much at all.

  26. Want to make real cuts in school districts? Look to the number of non-teaching administrative personnel, a group that is now nearly as numerous as teachers themselves. Most of whom are there because of the need to comply with federal rules and mandates…

  27. I am a dedicated professional, and I demand to be treated like one. If they have to cut food stamps to pay my salary, so be it.

    Again, I’m a teacher who loves my job, and I DO NOT do it for the money! I do it for the children.

    However, I still feel I should be paid. A lot.

    1. I don’t even know how to respond to this. You don’t care that your students are hungry, so you can be paid a lot? It seems a conflict with that attitude to imply you teach for the children. Perhaps I have misread. “I do IT for the children, what is “it”?

  28. My wife is a teacher and I have begrudgingly attended many teacher “parties” as her significant other. 90% of the teachers in her school are of marginal intellect. I am being kind. There is no way ANY of these 90% could cut it in a pay for performance private sector. None.

    Emily is a great example of this. So, you go into debt of $100k for two meaningless degrees with absolutely no regard for the ROI this proposes and then because of this poor capital allocation decision you believe you are entitled to a pay rate that exceeds these loans simply because you are “educated” (but are you?) and have degrees. There is little regard for the inherent VALUE of these degrees just simply that you showed up at class, took on some debt, so there MUST be an associated perceived value.

    Get rid of the DOE. Get rid of public unions. Provide vouchers to students and let the free markets figure it out. Sure, there would be some collateral damage for the 1st generation (parents might have to actually augment study at home), but you wouldn’t be throwing cash down a hole and you wouldn’t have to worry about some organization efficiently allocating the capital. Then, maybe, just maybe, we can get some real talent in the schools. Hard to teach accountability and responsibility when you are accountable to nothing.

  29. A Haiku for po’ folks losing food stamps:

    Have “skin in the game”
    Skin hanging off of bare bones
    For Bam and the Mooch.

    By the way, if you can read this, thank a teacher.

  30. This infuriates me. My state isn’t laying off teachers because we have our fiscal house in order, so why are my tax dollars bailing out loser states? Why are federal tax dollars paying one cent at all for public education?

  31. what make better sense to keep the teachers that tech our young or have 100 student per teacher and no body will learn???

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