Wednesday, February 15, 2006

For the Teachers Union, it’s all about the students. Riiiiiiight

Governor Pataki’s plan to have New York join a growing number of states that offer tax credits to parents who want to send their children to private school is gaining momentum. Yesterday the Governor, parents, children and even Cardinal Egan stood on the steps of the state capitol to push the issue.

The constant pounding of the issue seems to be starting to work as the plans biggest opponent, the teachers union and its leader Randi Weingarten, have signaled that they might finally give in on the issue.

Of course though in the spirit of the union they won’t give in without getting something in return. Ms. Weingarten said she would possibly support the credits if the state promised to follow through with a court request to spend an additional $23 billion over five years to the school system.

As I said yesterday, money is not the problem. Catholic schools currently have a higher graduation rate among student while spending considerably less per student then public schools do. It currently costs a parent a little over $4,000 to send their child to a Catholic grammar school compared to the almost $18,000 it costs the city for a public student.

Looking at the numbers it is no wonder the Gov. would rather pay tax credits for private school then continue to shell out money for public school. The state would save millions of dollars that could be used elsewhere, like if I dare say it, healthcare.

The teacher’s union opposition continues to be about one thing, their interests not the students. Numbers don’t lie and the numbers show that a large number of students in the public system can get just as good if not better of an education in private school at much less the cost to the taxpayer. The teachers like any business is concerned about the competition and know they can’t compete and are afraid it will start to lead to a decline in their ranks. This is the reason Democrats are fighting the plan because the teachers union is a big voting base and they need to continue to keep them in their back pocket.

Ms. Weingarten request for the $23 billion is just a way to keep the union fed and she in charge. My opinion is the Governor should take a page out of Bloomberg’s book and give into Weingarten’s shortsighted request to give the state a long-term benefit. If we recall Bloomberg agreed to give Weingarten and the union a raise when he first took office but at the cost that the union give up control of the school board. It cost the city money but the Mayor took control and the students have benefited ever since, while the union now wonders what they did. The Gov should give them the extra $4 billion a year for the next five years just to get the tax credit system started. By the time the five years are up, the tax credit system will be in full force and people will realize that it’s a much better deal leading to a public school system that will need less money to insure a “sound basic education” that the state constitution calls for, saving money for the taxpayer in the long run.

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