The Corner

Electing Your Own Boss

Rick Hess at Education Week:

Public employee unions, which have become one of the nation’s most aggressive and influential special interest groups in recent decades, are unchecked by the competitive constraints and self-interested ownership that help to balance out private sector unions. In his forthcoming book Special Interest, for instance, Stanford’s Terry Moe points out that the Michigan Education Association has distributed a 40-page instructional manual for local leaders that’s entitled “Electing Your Own Employer, It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3.” And as one high-ranking state union official told me when I wrote Revolution at the Margins, “We knew the school system wasn’t moving to Mexico,” so there was no reason to work with the state negotiator on establishing a prudent salary structure.

The resulting overpromise is easy to see. For instance, when it comes to teacher pensions, there is a nearly $500 billion (and growing) funding shortfall across the states, and educator benefits have consistently grown as a percent of salaries–with districts and states contributing far more to teacher retirements than employers do in the private sector.

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