People have asked me to name some of the issues negatively impacting education in Alabama and one of them is a severely top heavy administration structure and the other, which is attached to the administrative issues, is the lack of turnover on our Board’s of Education.
The attached article is a perfect display of the kind of prima donna “negotiating” that appears to be ‘business as usual’ for public school administration and football coach contracts (the sacred cows of education).
In the example below, the current superstar negotiations still ongoing in Huntsville over a vacant Superintendent position is a “Marie Antoinette” moment of a profession completely out of touch with our public reality and the “mood” of the people. But, “let them eat cake”, as commonly attributed to Antoinette.
In round 1 of the contract negotiations, the Huntsville City Board offered Akin, who is the current Superintendent in Piedmont, Alabama, $179,500 a year. He rejected it as not enough.
In Piedmont, he’s getting $154,000 with 3% raises, a $9,000 car allowance and is making the school district pay for his insurance premiums up to $5,652 a year. Our teachers don’t have their insurance premiums covered by their schools and their long overdue raise last year was immediately gobbled up by Blue Cross Blue Shield through rate and premium increases. But, there appears to be a growing belief that some in government are “more equal” and “more special” and have “more value” than the rest of us and forget that they live off of the backs of the people.
So, like a high-powered NFL contract negotiation, the Huntsville City Board of Education raised their offer to a 3 year contract at $195,000 a year, $900 car allowance per month ($10,800 a year), and $10,000 in moving expenses. They rejected his demand for a housing allowance and to have the District pay his insurance premiums.
His reasoning for demanding so much? He has “14 years of experience under his belt”. So, let’s look at what a teacher with 14 years of experience makes. According to the AEA’s salary schedule for the 2016/17 school year, A teacher with a BS, with 12 years but less than 15 years of experience, is paid $45,421. If he/she has a Masters then it’s $52,232 and $60,412 for a Doctorate. Those teachers with Doctorates don’t get a car allowance, their premiums paid, or make over 3 X their $60,000 a year salary, as was just offered to Akin. Think about that… 3 times the salary of a Doctorate teacher with equivalent experience.
I’ve said in the past that I don’t begrudge people who deserve a good salary yet I do have a fundamental problem when the backbone of our education system is hurting (teachers). Our teachers have been asked to do so much with so little while poor examples of blatant self-interest, like the one in the article, display either an ignorance of what’s happening in education or hubris. Either way, it has no place in the Alabama our teacher’s deserve.
The average salary for citizens in Huntsville is $46,769.00 and each citizen, regardless of whether they have a child in the school system or not, contribute to the King’s salary as leader of the school district. The current enrollment is 24,000 students which breaks down to about $8.50 a student just to pay the salary he’s demanding, including his car allowance (I didn’t include other benefits).
The Governor of Alabama, who leads 4,849,000 citizens, would make $131,000 a year with a cost breakdown per citizen of less than 3 cents. The newly hired State Superintendent, Michael Sentance, makes $198,000 and oversees around 744,000 students. This breaks down to about 26 cents per student to pay Sentance.
Government is government is government and I have a fundamental issue with employees of the people shaking down the public for more money when those they lead (teachers) and those they serve (children of citizens) are separated by such a wide income disparity. How many teachers could we afford to reduce class sizes for $195,000? How many support staff to assist our teachers could we get for $195,000? How much could we raise salaries for our teachers if we started placing reasonable limits on government administrative salaries, including coaches, to where they stayed within a logical percentage of the highest paid teacher in the system? How many administrators and staff that fill local board offices are absolutely essential? In my discussions with teachers from all over the state, there appears to be a consensus that not too many are absolutely essential whereas our teachers are absolutely essential yet undervalued.
Public School is just that..public…and it is not a corporate for-profit business yet many of our state governmental offices are paying corporate for-profit salaries to where one of our lowest paid employees of the people is the Governor. There is something wrong with that formula.
The people in Alabama are a hard working people and this tiered system of who benefits in this state and who doesn’t should not be allowed to continue unchecked and unchallenged. If you choose to work as a public servant then please be mindful of where that money comes from because far too many in this great state are suffering and every tax on their property, every tax on their groceries, and every tax on their gas has a greater percentage impact on them than on those, like bureaucrats and administrators, who create those burdens through their decisions and that false sense of awesome that too many have of their personal value. I know far too many great teachers making $50,000 that could run circles around some of these administrators making $195,000 and I know too many blue collar dads that would coach high school football for free and win championships.
Be mindful and respectful of the public dollar.
So, did Akin accept the $195,000 deal with all the bells and whistles? He’s still considering it and he may counter. SMH.
We rise together. As one.