The Coming War over Public Sector Pensions


"Via the Washington Examiner comes news of a breaking showdown in Fairfax,
Virginia, where the school system is looking for a whopping tax increase to
pay for teacher retirements and benefits. Here's verbiage from the Fairfax
County Taxpayers Association (FCTA), which is against that move:

"The FCTA asked why the school board is urging the supervisors to raise
taxes by $81.9M although only $9M is needed to pay for next year's expected
increase in student enrollment."

"The school superintendent acknowledged that the reason is the increased
cost in employee benefits, especially pensions. According to the schools'
proposed FY2011 budget, employee benefits costs are increasing by $98M, of which
$71M is for pensions and another $15M is for retiree medical benefits."

"The school board has been less than straightforward with the community
about this. During her opening remarks at the forum, school board chairman Kathy
Smith talked about cuts to band and sports, and bigger class sizes, but never
acknowledged that the cuts were being made to pay for increased benefits costs.
School board members urged the audience to ask the supervisors to raise taxes. If taxes are not raised, then the board will cut band and sports and increase class size to make the pension payments."

"Hard fact time: Taxpayers everywhere are shelling out many, many, many
more real dollars per student for public education than they were 30 years ago
(with no clear improvements in outcomes). Indeed, inflation-adjusted costs per
pupil have gone up over 200 percent since 1970, while student achievement is
flat (at best). Can you think of any other part of y our life (especially one in the private sector) where you are paying twice as much for the same freaking outcome?"

"This is a story that is only going to gain in regularity as the gap
between public-sector and private-sector compensation grows (public sector
already has a 70 percent advantage!) and as private sector workers increasingly
fund their own retirements via 401 (k)s.

They always threaten the same things: cuts to programs, bigger class sizes, doom and gloom unless taxes are raised and more money is spent. The problem being that the majority of their "revenue" goes for those benefits and never reaches the students. The "Public Option" of education does not work. Just like it won't for Healthcare. Just like it's not for Government Motors when compared to Ford. Anything Big Brother can do a private company can do it better, cheaper and more efficiently.

Down with Big Brother!

Below are the graphs showing the sideways trend for performance in reading and math, since 1970, even with the astronomical increase in expenditures per student. What would be nice is a comparison graph showing the performance of private school students compared to public school students.

Trend in NAEP reading average scores for 17 year-old students.

Trend in NAEP mathematics average scores for 17 year old students, by gender.


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