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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

You've Been Surplussed

The other day I was in church when I learned a new term. During the prayer time, one of our members, a teacher here in Las Vegas, shared that she had been surplussed.

Not having any idea what that meant, I turned to my wife, who generally is much smarter understanding these things and she explained that surplussed is the nice way to say we got too many teachers.

But the problem in Las Vegas isn't that we have too many teachers, it's that there is no money in the system to pay them.

So instead of just saying we are laying teachers off, a politically risky move, we now just surplus them. You know, categorize them as extra. Like too many ball bearings at an axle factory.

The problem is, we are not talking about a commodity here. We are talking about real people. People who just a few years ago we were convinced we needed to educate the children of the Las Vegas Valley. Is that not true now, or were we wrong then?

In a state woefully short on quality education in good times, imagine what havoc this will wreak on our education system now. Las Vegas regularly ranks at, or near the bottom of the pack in almost every educational marker, including per pupil spending. Yet while the truth of that sets in, our politicians seem intent on closing a budget short fall they themselves helped create, not with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases, but solely by cutting spending.

As anyone who has ever grappled with a tight budget at home knows, seldom can you make all the ends meet by just tightening the belt. There comes the time when the stay at home mom or dad must get a job, or perhaps a second job, to bring more money into the pot.

There is always a point at which you cannot cut budgeted spending any more and expect to move forward. You must consider ways to raise additional revenue.

If we are at a time when teachers are told the state can no longer afford to have them educating our children, and that they are little more than surplus, perhaps that time has come in Las Vegas.

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Comments on "You've Been Surplussed"


Blogger Lista said ... (11:44 AM) : 

There was Only One Phrase in your Article that Caught my Eye and that is the Phrase, "Expect to Move Forward".

Sometimes When we are Deeply and Debt, Dave, Moving Forward is no Longer an Option and all that can be done Practically is to Maintain while Paying Off Debt. I Believe that this was the Mistake that Obama has Made. His Goal was just too Big and More then we can Afford.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (12:43 PM) : 

Lista, I am primarily talking here about Las Vegas/Nevada politics.

That said, I agree there are times when all we can do is pay off debt, but that in itself, is a way of moving forward, even if only at a snails pace.

On a larger scale than Nevada, think federal, the concept is still valid. There is no way we can cut enough to balance the federal budget without tackling the areas politicians have determined are off limits. [defense, medicare, etc.]

To balance our federal budget, as the GOP says, everything should be on the table, including defense and tax increases.

But again, in this post, I am speaking primarily to our issues in Nevada.


Blogger Tim said ... (2:00 PM) : 

The time is long past to raise taxes. We are closing schools, libraries and police stations in MI, people are losing their homes, and yet we have the funds to begin yet ANOTHER war against a Muslim country. Why, I ask you, do we have the money for this and helping the Japanese rebuild,along with extending the tax cuts to millionaires for two more years? Dave, I was at the Rock and Roll hall of fame yesterday and I bought a peace sign lapel pin there. I am going to wear it until ALL of these wars are over. It is time for our men and women in uniform to come home! If there is any nation building to be done it should start right here!


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (2:17 PM) : 

Tim, you're gonna have that pin on a long time I'm afraid...


Blogger Tim said ... (3:00 PM) : 

As long as it takes, Dave! As long as it takes.


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (4:32 PM) : 

Being a Wisconsin native, I
have been keeping up with the Guv vs teacher affair there. Here is how it has worked:
He removed the teacher's bargaining rights and reduced their pay.
Next, he hired the son of
a wealthy contributor at
the commerce dept. for $81,000.
While over 50% of WI teachers have at least a masters degree, this young
political appointee was a college dropout with drinking problems and a police record.
I have to wonder if that is what the Tea Party wants...


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (5:32 PM) : 

BB, isn't 88K a little more than the average "overpaid union" teachers salary in WI?


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (6:29 PM) : 

Yes sir--about double!!
Sort of validates huge outside corporate political contributions and naive voters, huh?


Blogger Beth said ... (7:03 PM) : 

We have the same thing going on in Ohio, BB, and I don't understand why collective bargaining is such an important thing. I mean the rest of us have to be evaluated and paid based on two things, how good a job we do, and if the entity paying us has enough money to pay us. If states do not have enough money, then changes need to be made. Being able to evaluate teachers and really any person paid with public funds and say "this is how much we can afford to pay you" and "this is how much you are worth" just makes sense to those of us who have the same constraints.


Blogger Lista said ... (8:42 PM) : 

Yep, Tim's going to be Waring that Pen a Long Time.

Also, I Agree with Beth.


Blogger dmarks said ... (4:08 AM) : 

Beth: Collective bargaining by government employees enables them to get wages above the fair value, this drawing money that can be used to improve vital services. The greed ends up spiraling out of control, and class sizes swell, government services deterioriate, and other problems happen.

It all depends on what the priorities are: for government to provide the best services or to pad the wallets of public "servants".

FDR, hardly a conservative icon, warned against the corruption and greed of forced unionization in the public sector.

But FDR was a man who believed in government getting its job done.


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (8:48 AM) : 

Average teacher pay in Ohio is $50314, Wisconsin
is $46390 and Nevada $44426. I guess that could be greed, dunno. I DO know that guv Walker's first act, a $140 million tax reduction for business did little to help that state's budget. We need remember that 'greed is good'...it drives the free market right?


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (10:08 AM) : 

dmarks, as a good capitalist, you should know that fair market value is whatever someone is willing to pay. To assert that collective bargaining enables people to get wages above "fair market value" is a one sided view.

perhaps those bargaining rights just allow some people to get "fair market value" while others, who must go in and ask for a raise on their own, will not have the ability to get their employer to pony up.

Beth, good to see you around again. As an employer, I worked under both situations. One where all employee raises were merit based, within a certain raise, and another where raises were based on length of service, understanding that bad employees would be released.

WHile I inherently think merit is best for productivity, in a large business where you are responsible for over 250 employees, as i was, a fair, objective review of each and every employee was nearly impossible.

I came to appreciate the non merit system even though it had its' faults because it shielded me, the employer from charges of favoritism and non objectivity.


Blogger Lista said ... (12:32 PM) : 

Forcing People to Unionize is not a Reflection of Freedom, nor of Free Markets. What's Worse is that Sometimes Union Leaders have Other Agendas Besides the True Desires of those they Claim to Represent.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (4:57 PM) : 

lista, no one can be forced to join a union... it is up to them... i've known many teachers who decided to not join their unions...


Blogger Lista said ... (9:51 PM) : 

It Depends on the Company. There are lots of Businesses in California in which if you do not Join the Union, you can not Work there.


Blogger Bamboo said ... (6:18 PM) : 

After the "debate" in Wisconsin I realize that one would have to be NUTS to want to do what teachers do for the pay they receive!

Lets see, you have kids, parents, the community, the administration, and the union to deal with.

You are not only responsible for educating but you are also social services. You have to make sure the kids are not abused, you have to catch emotional issues and health issues, if the kids don't have supplies you have to provide it, kids come to class hungry you feed them.

Kids beat up another kid and you are criticized, then if you are too disciplined you are criticized.

I can do that for the same salary I can get being a customer service rep for some company and I put my 8 hours in and go home. I get the same pay, don't need a college degree or continuing education, get health insurance and a 401K...

I predict in 5 to 7 years schools will have to pay $75,000 salary for teachers....


Blogger Lista said ... (11:45 AM) : 

When the Pay is Truly too Low, there will be a Shortage of Teachers, yet that has not Occurred. There are Still Plenty of Good Teachers who are Desiring that Job.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (4:20 PM) : 

I think Lista, we can be pretty sure that the pay is too low for people to consider teaching as a serious option for the main wage earner in a family.

Perhaps that helps explain why there are more women than men teaching in grades K-12.


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (4:24 PM) : 

"We have the same thing going on in Ohio, BB, and I don't understand why collective bargaining is such an important thing."
...and I don't understand why decreasing taxes on the wealthy is such an important thing. It approaches the bizarre:
Tim Pawlenty, who announced for president,
is a fundamentalist who is against euthanasia-yet he proposes dismantling social security and medicare (euthanasia by default) to even further
reduce taxes on the wealthy. I guess retirees will end up 'surplussed'
even though they paid for
both programs their whole lives. Kafkaesque, IMO.


Blogger dmarks said ... (5:53 PM) : 

Dave said: "lista, no one can be forced to join a union... it is up to them... i've known many teachers who decided to not join their unions..."

Actually, in Michigan, closed shop is the rule. People can be fired for not joining unions. They are indeed forced. And it's pretty ridiculous for people to be fired from a job for not belonging to a political organization that has nothing to do with their ability to do the job. Such coercion is common in a large number of American states.

"i've known many teachers who decided to not join their unions"

Dave, were they able to teach without paying ANY dues at all?

According to the pro-workers rights group the NILRR, "In 19 states across the country, there exist laws which allow teacher union officials to extract forced dues from teachers."

Other research shows this quotation:

"Wisconsin law allows compulsory unionism. That means public school teachers in Wisconsin are forced to pay the union - a private organization with a partisan political agenda - simply for the privilege of having a job."


Blogger dmarks said ... (6:14 PM) : 

More facts to fly in the face of implications that vouchers are a plot to destroy public education put in place by the "Reactionary Right":

see this article

The top name in favor of vouchers in this article is President Obama.

Followed by his Secretary of Education.

Followed by liberal Democrat D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Wow. Perhaps this mythical "Reactionary Right" does exist after all, if these people are in it!


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