Teacher pay proposal would make school administrators even less beholden to parents

February 21, 2023

By Tim Worstall

A truly dangerous idea is being suggested in Washington D.C.: that the federal government should be more involved in how much teachers are paid.

The dangerous part of it isn’t how much – it’s that the money to pay the teachers should come from the federal government.

As our investigations are showing (Texas, Ohio, Ohio again, Idaho and Tennessee) freeing the bureaucrats from direct and close control just means they waste the money. For they do waste our money – they use our tax dollars to do what we don’t want them to be doing.

That’s why this idea is so dangerous:

Sanders’s soon-to-be-introduced Pay Teachers Act would spend $450 billion over 10 years to triple federal Title I funding by increasing estate taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Democrats in the House have already introduced a similar bill. Under that proposal, states would be eligible for federal grants if they use it to boost salaries to $60,000.

Paying teachers more? Well, sure the teachers unions would like that even though there’s no actual shortage of teachers. Increasing estate taxes? That’s a different argument and all can be on any side of that.

The problem is that this would all run through the feds. Money disappears up to 3,000 miles away and then, dependent upon what happens in D.C., some of it might come back. When it does come back, it’ll come back – whatever small portion of it does – tied up in red tape about what it can be spent on, how it can be spent, and, of course, layer upon layer of bureaucracy to check that exactly that is being one.

It’s not just the waste of money that’s the problem. It’s the loss of power over what the money is spent on.  We see this already on the smaller scale of how schools are financed right now.

If we pay to send our child to a school, we determine how the school budget is spent. If we pay taxes for the school district, then we’ve got some influence, even if not enough. But once the district starts getting the money from the state, then it’s who has the power in the state capitol that determines how the money is spent. Whether it’s about wokeness, the teachers unions, or the bureaucrats, we all know that moving the money away from us means levels of power between us and education. The same would be true even if it wasn’t about wokeness and so on. The longer the chain between the money leaving our pocketbooks and being spent on our children’s education, the more power other people have over it.

Sending the money 3,000 miles to D.C. and back again just increases the number dipping their bread into our gravy. Some will do it for the money, some the power, but every level will do it.

It’s our money, they’re our children, that’s why this idea of more federal involvement is such a terrible, lousy, no-good idea.

Hey, maybe $60k salaries for teachers is a good idea. Maybe an estate tax to pay them is. We have views, as you do, but that’s not our point at all. Sending the power over who pays teachers – and therefore who gets to decide what teachers do – to the other side of the country just means that we’ll never have the power ourselves. Not ever again.

It’s even possible to believe that Bernie Sanders really does know how to do all this the right way. But what about the next Senator from Vermont, someone you can’t vote for and can’t, crucially, vote against? Perhaps not, eh?


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