Who’s Really Heartless?
Posted by deaconkharmafuture1 on May 13, 2009
Recently the governor of South Carolina refused to take some of Obama’s stimulus money. Notably, some money that was slated to go to the school system, here in SC. Law makers railed against him and trashed him, while prophesying doom and gloom and teacher cuts. Teacher cuts in a system that has shown behind in the national average sounds bad, right? A system that ranks low (37/51) in national standing would cut teachers? Say it isn’t so!
There is much politics within the school system as well as surrounding it. What many don’t know or don’t understand is that many teachers coming out of college have to go outside SC to get a job. There are not enough the slots for them available here.
Why is it that many new teachers must go out of state to get a job? Why is it that we must further cut jobs? One reason is the TERI program. The “Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive” program is what is both filling slots new teachers could have, and also eating into the state budget. This is a problem for new teachers, and the state budget, by allowing a teacher to continue to draw retirement and to earn teacher salary and leave, “at the rate consistent with their years of service”, on top of that. So rather than pay a new teacher a first year salary, also providing a job, you close up the job market and over pay a teacher for doing the same job. “The TERI program is designed for employees who wish to access their retirement contributions from the SC Retirement System, but desire to continue employment with the agency and retain the same position they held prior to entering the program.” Wow, Holy Double Dipper Batman! To boot, depending on which version of TERI, they can have contracts for specific terms so they are paid for the term of the contract rather than working as the need exists. What a deal!
Another district did away with the TERI program and was then either able to hire new teachers or free up their budget without taking benefits away from anyone. Hooray for one district to go ahead and open the job market and keep folks insured. Lexington 5 did not. Here is where it gets messy. TERI teachers are still teachers and thus with politics the way it is, and the public at large having the attention span that they do (Ritalin seems required as a whole), if you cut TERI teachers it will be reported as cutting “TEACHERS”. Oh how the Malpractice Media will swoon and faint in horror! But wait, if you cut TERI teachers, then the only thing they have lost is the EXTRA salary. You haven’t cut benefits for them because they already are taken care of, as retirees. You have only taken the EXTRA salary. Here’s how it is presented. Try to read that and see if you can tell if there was any determination between TERI and regular teachers.
Ok, now that we have TERI out of the way, let’s analyze what happened Monday night at the Lexington 5 School board meeting. Last night Herbert Berg, “interim superintendent”, advised the school board to cut school compliance officers and other jobs that folks depend on to provide not only their meager salaries, but also their benefits. He didn’t cut teachers, the “mascot” of the school system. He cut nameless faceless “jobs”. All the while the double dippers, TERI teachers, can continue to occupy seats that would give young South Carolina teachers jobs and benefits or save the very jobs of those who depend on them for benefits. They continue their cushy job under the politically protective umbrella of the title “TEACHER”. Compliance officers and others, who depend on the salary and benefits, got the boot because double dippers are teachers too in the eyes of the media. Never mind that if they had been cut loose, they’d still have benefits and healthcare. Instead, the board and the superintendent cut those who shall remain faceless and voiceless. The reason was because politics dictated it, not smart fiscal policy.
So who are the bad guys? Sanford has been demonized as the cause of the whole mess. Sanford only wants the budget streamlined. He is unable to micromanage the school board and their decisions. When bloated budgets and gross misuse of funds abound, who would you blame for looking out for the taxpayer? Perhaps we should even consider the legislative body that ignored fiscally responsible options that would have fully funded police, schools and jails. They ignored a fiscally responsible budget that would have upped the school budget by $2.57 billion. Read this piece at the bottom of the linked page: “It doesn’t have to be this way” By GREG RYBERG and TOM DAVIS, Guest Columnists on Nathan’s News blog site . Nathan Ballentine is a state legislature representative for district 71.
So who here is ultimately responsible? Really, is it Sanford, or Berg and the school board that played politics with lives and healthcare of the voiceless? Ask yourself, who kept sacred, overpaid, cows when they should be considering keeping the folks who have nothing else to depend on?
In a necessary follow-up to this, I am adding Florida’s recent legislative abomination. To keep it short and simple, the Florida legislative body has decided two things. First, they decided to raid certain “trust funds”. These are”trust funds” that come from payment of certain taxes and are sequestered to pay for the specific departmental budgets. One of the raided trust funds is the Concealed Weapons permit regulatory budget. Funds are paid into the “trust” to pay for background checks and the employees necessary. The people’s trust in the legislative body of Florida is violated. Florida is in breach of it’s own laws.
Second, the legislature has inserted an insidious measure to try and confound and damn any effort, by Governor Crist, to use a line item veto to block these travesties. To add this insult, the legislature has added wording in the legislation that specifically states that should any of their budgetary mischief be vetoed, they will directly remove funds from education to make up the shortfall. Once again education is being used as a blunt instrument with which to beat folks over the head who dare protect the people from extortion and graft by an out of control legislature. Will folks wake up to this in time? Or will we continue to ignore the mismanagement and mafioso tactics of our elected officials?
UPDATE: Stimulus money wins in court, but is it as stimulating as we were told?
It seems Sanford has been told by the State Supreme Court that he must take the money that the legislature has demanded. Hooray for the jobs that will be saved by this money right? The rhetoric is already getting toned down on the ability of this money to save jobs. Already on news outlets, there are reports that jobs won’t all be saved and that indeed taxes may still have to go up and other things this money was supposed to help us avoid, will still happen.
Already a source, I have, has mentioned the superintendent has changed his rhetoric that all the jobs would be saved. He has changed it now to “as many as FEASIBLE will be saved”. But wait, wasn’t Sanford the SOLE reason for this bout of job losses? Now that the reason cited for the job losses is gone, why hasn’t the sky opened up and why don’t rainbows appear?
Maybe this acceptance by Sanford of his court loss was to prove to us it isn’t him after all. Many are saying this court defeat is his way of getting out of the corner he has backed himself into. By accepting defeat he accepts the money, all the while he can remain the small government proponent. I am not so sure this analysis is quite accurate. I think it is, possibly, a shrewd way of showing the taxpayers and teachers exactly who is to blame. Watch and see how many still lose their jobs. I am personally anxious to see if my theory holds out on that. If I am right, watch and see if the news media reports the job losses now. (Below is from “The State” newspaper online)
“Where the money goes..
…K-12 schools $185 million
Lexington 2. Will consider repealing furloughs and salary cuts.
Lex-Rich 5. District had planned to cut 144 jobs, but now will be able to keep some of them.
Richland 1. District informed 150 teachers in April they may not have jobs. How stimulus money will affect those teachers is undetermined.”