To the Adirondack Journal:
Decades ago when I was a kid, many of my teachers were very dedicated, adequately educated and underpaid. They were well respected because it was clear that they put educating students way ahead of compensation and the results with kids were good.
Public sentiment agreed that the teachers were underpaid. Then the New York State United Teachers was incorporated in 1971 and the union did a very good job. Teachers ceased being underpaid. Now, however, teachers in Lake George enjoy steadily increasing compensation packages, including many at the six-figure level. (See www.lghalt.org for details — a total of 29 Lake George school employees, including teachers, receive over $115,000 in total compensation annually, and a large number of these receive from $125,000 to $149,000.)
Decades ago, kids came first. Now, the teachers’ union looks out for the teachers’ best interests first. The pendulum has swung, first to the center where it should have been, then way beyond center to where it is today.
Teachers also now benefit from the state’s overly-generous 1982 “Triborough Amendment” which guarantees raises even if the unions cannot come to terms with the local school board. That’s right: if the school board doesn’t make an offer which the teachers accept, they continue to get raises anyway!
NYS School Board Association President Florence Johnson admits that the Triborough Amendment has resulted in teachers getting much larger raises than executives and workers in the private sector and this amendment tilts the advantage toward the teachers in their negotiations and contracts. The private sector taxpayers have no Triborough Amendment to fall back on and guarantee an increment in salary every year.
According to an article from the Empire Center for NYS Policy dated Oct. 17, 2007 on the cost and consequences of New York’s public sector labor laws, the State Conference of Mayors noted: