How would you go about improving Amtrak? To believe some, the solution is as simple as paying the unionized employees of Amtrak more. Sure, you couch the salary increases in talk of additional resources to address deficiencies, but the end result is the same; higher wages for those who are currently not performing.
We all recognize that the government cannot run a railroad; never could, never will. Yet, many somehow believe that government can run a monopolized system of education. Hey, if government can't run a railroad, what makes you think it can run schools? Well, of course government can't; never could - as evident, and never will.
To believe the spin, the solution to public education is the same as the solution to Amtrak; pay the current employees more. Simple solution, yet it is as ineffective as it is expensive.
There is no market for teachers with 15+ years of experience. Why? Their salary exceeds their value product. If you think I'm not correct, then find some job postings for someone with 15 years of teaching experience. In fact, other school districts are not in the market for that very same skill set.
At contract negotiations time, a school district will generate salary comparisons between itself and other local districts. District A will note that District B is paying its teachers with 20 years of experience a higher wage. So, District A will state that it has to increase salaries to match the local market for teachers with such experience. The point of this exercise is to justify salary increases in a monopolized system. But, by its own actions, District A shows that it does not even respect its own salary structure.
You see, District A would never hire a teacher with 20 years of experience at the district's negotiated rate for 20 years of experience. District A may hire the teacher and credit him or her with only ten years of experience. The reason: The district recognizes that the teacher's value product - that which he or she will produce - in not worth the salary earned by current teachers with 20 years of experience. The district recognizes that there is no additional benefit for those ten years of experience; yet the district has a salary structure that says otherwise. And, the district negotiates otherwise.
Remember, the teacher with five years of experience teaches the same 19 or so students as the teacher with 15+ years of experience. The teacher with greater experience is not producing more, he or she is simply costing more. Certainly, some reader will cite studies that show experience equals greater academic outcomes. While that is true for the first five years of a teacher's career, it is not true beyond year five. The teacher with 30 years of experience is no more productive than the teacher with six years experience; same number of students, same academic outcomes.
Now, don't get me started on the bogus claims that additional post-graduate credits improves educational outcomes. Paying a teacher more for taking multiple online post-graduate courses that are only tangentially associated with the subject matter he or she teaches is an absolute waste of tax dollars.
And, let's not to forget, administrators negotiate with the unions and benefit from any increase since administrative salary increases are usually tied to the teachers' negotiated agreement. The more that the teachers get, the more that the taxpayers' representatives in the negotiations - the administrators - receive. Hmmm, conflict of interest?!?
Improve Amtrak by raising salaries is as nutty as raising teacher salaries - and requisite property taxes - in order to improve public education. Both are bad ideas. Expensive and bad.