Union Merger Appears Unlikely

Published June 1, 1998

At their upcoming conventions in July, the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are scheduled to vote on a proposal to merge the two organizations, but it already seems unlikely that the NEA will be able to secure the required 2/3 majority of delegate votes to win approval of the plan. According to the Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, who has been keeping a running tally on NEA state delegate votes on the issue, there is more confirmed opposition than support for the proposed merger.

To date, confirmed anti-merger votes constitute 24.6 percent of the total convention delegates. With another 4.0 percent strongly leaning against the merger, the anti-merger total to date is 28.6 percent. The corresponding figures for delegates who support the merger are: 17.3 percent confirmed pro-merger, plus 10.5 percent strongly leaning for the merger, for a total of 27.8 percent.

“The amazing part of this story is that the merger is not being buried in the south but in the highly unionized Midwest,” observes Antonucci. For example, the NEA affiliate in Georgia voted for the merger, despite the possibility of losing members to an alternative teachers’ association. On the other hand, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan affiliates all voted to oppose the merger.

Felons Found Teaching in Missouri Classrooms

While there are not a lot of felons teaching children in Missouri public schools, there should not be any at all, since state law prohibits a convicted felon from holding a teaching certificate. Legislation passed by the state Senate in early May would speed up the revocation of teaching certificates for teachers convicted of the most serious felonies, and also would revoke certification for teachers who received a suspended sentence or accepted a plea that resulted in no criminal record.

The changes were prompted by preliminary findings from a recent computer check of state records by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which revealed that 23 certified teachers were convicted felons and another 11 had been found guilty of felonies but had no felony records. Another 172 certified teachers had misdemeanor convictions, including driving under the influence, child endangerment, sexual misconduct, drug violations, and assault.

The records check, which is about two-thirds complete, was ordered last year by Governor Mel Carnahan after the Kansas City Star revealed that the state had been lax in revoking the certification of teachers involved in abuse and misconduct. While the newspaper’s editors welcomed the records check, they noted that it still did not show if public school teachers had felony convictions in other states, nor did it cover teachers at private schools.
Kansas City Star
May 6, 1998

Study May Overstate Ohio School Funding Inequities

In determining how much additional funding is required to remedy perceived inequities in school district funding, most Ohio policymakers have relied on a study by Dr. John Augenblick, a Denver-based consultant, who estimated that school districts need about $4,300 per student to provide an “adequate” public education. After analyzing Augenblick’s assumptions and estimates, University of Dayton economist John Ruggiero concludes that the study is flawed and significantly overstates the inequality of funding among districts.

To derive his $4,300 estimate, Augenblick selected a sample of 102 Ohio school districts that met certain spending and outcome criteria for providing an “adequate” education. But Ruggiero, who is also an advisor to the State of Ohio, points out that the school districts in Augenblick’s sample differ significantly from the statewide average: they have lower student enrollments overall, lower minority student enrollments, lower poverty rates, higher median incomes, and higher average property tax valuation.

“Ohio voters are being asked to raise taxes for all school districts based on a formula derived from 102 unrepresentative ones,” notes James Damask, director of research for The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions. The Institute, based in Dayton, Ohio, published Ruggiero’s analysis in a recent Perspective on Current Issues.

Ruggiero also questions Augenblick’s assumption that all Ohio school districts spend their money efficiently. Using an advanced econometric model to analyze public school costs, Ruggiero found that Ohio school districts spent about $607 per student more than is necessary for basic expenditures. That represents over $800 million in statewide public school expenditures that are consumed by waste and inefficiency.
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
April 1998

Teacher Pay Whips Inflation in Baltimore

“Unions in Baltimore have negotiated contracts over the past few years that have cost residents dearly,” writes Kantayhanee Whitt in “Padded Payroll,” a new Calvert Institute study of Baltimore.

While inflation eroded the value of money by about 20 percent during the period 1989-1996, the pay of public school teachers in Baltimore more than kept up, notes Whitt. Easily outpacing inflation and pay increases of 25 percent negotiated by that city’s fire fighters’ union and police union, the Baltimore Teacher’s Union saw its members’ compensation increase by 33.4 percent over that period.
Calvert Institute
May 1998