The March 4th protest scheduled to take place in 29 States across America in protest against cut-backs in the education system has been interpreted by CNN’s resident expert as an attack against the overpayment of teachers. Steve Perry, CNN’s “Education Contributor” suggests that the protests are a sign that “There needs to be some honest conversations about what’s happening [in our schools].” Without pointing his finger directly at teachers, Perry notes that “The system is being fleeced by the people within.” Yet, there seems little other explanation in Perry’s view than that the teachers’ unions are the primary ones doing the fleecing, for, as CNN’s news release quotes Perry, “teachers’ salaries make up 70 to 80 percent of schools’ budgets. In order for school programs to survive, those salaries must be based on performance and revenue instead of union mandates.” So the whole protest, it would seem was one being driven by students (the victims) against the unions (villains). Despite the fact that this protest is being driven by teachers, unions and students in solidarity against education cuts, CNN’s man uses the protest to push anti-unionism and performance pay. And it is telling that he can cite no higher authority on education than the CNN business model:
“At CNN, you don’t get a raise if there’s no money. It doesn’t happen that way…If there’s no money and you’ve not performed well, then you do not get a raise.” http://www.hartfordschools.org/contact.php
Thus, the real basis, on this point of view, is the fact that performance pay has not been implemented to kill unions and drive teacher pay down from the 70-80% of is budget that this labour-intensive institution has traditionally paid out in the past. Only when teachers can actually drive up revenue should they be entitled to raises. In a strange kind of way, Perry almost makes you believe for a second that the strike is based on a need to put teachers on straight commission.
Steve Perry is the founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford , Connecticut , where the board has fully implemented school choice, a favoured policy of charter schools and privatization.