Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Educational Administrators--Let Me Count the Ways

Let me count the ways that school administrators only advocate for themselves, their supervisors and NOT teachers, staff or students.

One, they advocate for lump sum salary increases so that they may chose where to allocate the raises. Want to bet who gets the most benefit from that form of increases in pay. Administrators pay lobbyists large sums of money to keep the process set in stone. Legislators are bought and paid for by administrators who could careless about teachers, staff, or students.

Two, administrators drag out the contract process with unions so that pay increase can be held back. The money that would go to educators pay is redirected to administrative salaries. Let’s get this straight 1% of $25,000 is $250 while 1% of $250,000 is $2,500 which is not the same.

Three, the only reason most administrators get excited about pension plans is because as top salaries earners with six figure salaries they stand to loss the most. Some get the school to pay both halves of the required contribution so that they pay nothing. They call that a deferred salary benefit. Teachers and staff never get those types of benefits.

Four, most teachers and staff are part-time employees by design of administrators so that they don’t get benefits. In some schools this can and does reach above 70% of the teaching staff. This is not good for students since it encourages higher turnover in the teacher and staff.

Five, administrators never name a building after a teacher or staff member but only their rich friends and themselves. God forbid that they should ever name a build after a high achieving student.

Six, staff and teachers buy supplies for low income students out of their own pockets. How many administrators have every paid for school supplies even thought they get much more in salaries.

Seven, administrators cut staff and teachers long before they cut administrators when the budget gets tight. Administrators will allow six figure salaried vice presidents to retire just to return to work as consultants at outrages sums of money.

Eight, administrators work top down and could careless about employee input into hiring, evaluations, health and safety, and approach to teaching styles or even testing. Why put someone on the hiring committee that actual dose the job everyday?

Nine, administrators short staff positions to keep the budget down but only with staff and teachers. Clearly administrators and supervisors have more to do since some of them spend a lot of time sexually harassing their lower level employees for years while human resources backs them up. Yet, if a teacher should loss his temper for just a few minutes than that person is fired on the spot.

Yes, we all understand just how important it is for administrators, supervisors, teachers, staff, and students to work together to better improve the educational system. Some, no most would call that a delusion or a fantasy perpetrated by legislators and school administrators,

Senate Bill 115, as passed (Educational Employee’s Pension Plan)

This ERB bill, as twice amended, takes this approach to long-term sustainability: changes for current retirees; changes for current members; and changes for new members. These changes will get ERB to 100.7% funded in 2043, whereas no other pension plan in this state is required to meet those same levels of funding in such a short time period.

The bill, as amended:

Raises contribution rate for all employees with salary of $20,000 and above:

- FY 2014 Employee Contribution Rate - 10.1% (School administrators are having the 10.1% they are required to pay covered out of lump sum individual school employee salaries funding as a deferred salary benefit. These administrators pay nothing into the pension plan out of their current salaries.)

- FY 2015 Employee Contribution Rate - 10.7% (How would you like to be forced to pay this much of your annual income into a retirement fund?)

- Employees with annual salary below $20,000 stay at 7.9%

For new employees hired on or after July 1, 2013: (Part-time employees, whom levels can reach as high as 70% + are still forced to pay into the pension plan.)

- Soft Minimum Retirement Age of 55; actuarial reduction if member retires with 30 years and is younger than age 55.

- COLA begins at age 67, rather than age 65

For current retirees:

Immediately reduces the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all retirees until the plan is 100% funded. The COLA reduction is based on the median retirement benefit ($18,000) of all retirees excluding disability retirements.

Retirees with benefits at or below the median AND with 25 or more years' service, will have a 10% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.8%. All other retirees will have a 20% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.6%. (Please note that the cost of food, gas, utilities, and housing has not and will not be reduced in the coming years for these retirees who are living on fixed incomes.)

These reductions will stay in place until ERB is 90% funded. Once there, the COLA reductions will decrease. The retirees with benefits at or below the median AND with 25 or more years' service, will have a 5% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.9%. All other retirees will have a 10% COLA reduction; their average COLA will be 1.8%. (No action was taken to prevent payouts to lawyers for fund managers who were sued for mismanaging the pension fund in the first place. It is highly likely that future managers will also mismanage the fund thereby preventing it for every reaching a 90% funding rate.)

Once ERB is 100% funded, the COLA reductions will cease and the average COLA for all ERB retirees will be 2%. This bill is consistent with ERB’s funding policy to ensure ERB's long-term sustainability.

Is it any wonder why State Representatives like Mimi Stewart were so offend by this bill. Yet, the majority of Legislators and School Administrators supported and even voted for this bill.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis and Governor Martinez

During the homily this morning, Pope Francis told a crowd of up to 200,000 gathered in front of the Vatican: “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” The Pope also said, “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.”

Of course this plea falls on deaf ears when it comes to Governor Susana Martinez. If anything the governor rewards the rich while taking more from the poor in this state. With the signing of the budget this year the governor will cut taxes to corporations in this state while cutting pensions for retired educators who live on fixed incomes. The governor will underfund education and roads in order to fund cuts to corporate taxes. The business community is very happy with the legislature and the governor this year. They say it is the best year they have ever seen, which translates to the worst year the voting public has ever seen.

The item that failed this year was an increase in minimum wage that would have increased income for the working poor. This is something that the governor opposed from the start. So much for caring for or protecting the poor in this state, perhaps the Pope can success where Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan has failed when it comes to convincing the governor that she has a duty to New Mexicans who are not rich.

The governor has failed from the very state to protect the poor and minorities. She has attacked immigrants and women. She brought in an educational administrator who has not spent time in the classroom teaching during her career. She made dirty deals with people who promote gambling and horse racing. She replaced sunshine with darkness when it came to state government contracts. She purchases an expensive coffee pot when the funding could have been better spent to help the poor and people with disabilities.

Clearly the Pope has a lot of work to do when it comes to turning Governor Martinez from the dark into the light. I have no problem believing that her mother had a hand in guiding her toward Pope Francis today.