WISH-TV is reporting that, under a deal between the Muncie Teacher’s Association and the Muncie Community School district, teachers will have to retroactively repay insurance premiums to the tune of $900 to $2,300 per teacher. The Muncie schools are struggling financially and previous stories said that the State sided with the teachers to stop a 23% pay cut. The teachers have, nevertheless, been resigning at a pretty fair clip.
I haven’t seen what the new deal does in terms of teacher pay, but the WISH-TV story says:
Teachers had been working under an old contract from 2015 to 2017, while the Muncie Teachers Association (MTA) and the school district negotiated and finalized a new deal.
Teachers’ insurance premiums increased for those two years, and Monday’s newsletter explained they’d have to pay back the difference.
According to the MTA newsletter, teachers will need to pay back anywhere from $50 to $130 per paycheck for the next 18 paychecks, depending on their insurance plan.
This is messed up on a number of levels, most obviously in terms of how we fund our schools and how we fund health care in this country. Then there is the backdrop of decades of stagnant incomes for average Americans even as GDP and economic production has increased a great deal over the same time period.
I know I come off as some kind of communist on this blog to my right-wing friends. But I assure you I’m a fan of the market, innovation, hard work and risk taking. It’s just that there has to be some balance to keep the system working smoothly, and it’s my opinion that there are elements of our economy that are badly out of balance, causing us to do things in a way that is equal parts senseless and harmful.
Our society’s thumb is firmly on the scale favoring property rights over other types of rights and, as a result, wealth is concentrated in few enough places that it’s distorting our markets and our democratic institutions. We end up spending far more on health care than other countries while getting the same or worse results. We can see other countries implementing educational systems that perform better than ours does but, for ideological and venal reasons, we pursue privatization rather than taking measures to enhance the professional status of our teachers and other steps that have been shown to yield educational improvements.
Economic stress on working families is exacerbating our underlying racial and other social problems, shrinking the middle class and causing widespread hopelessness which, in turn, increases drug use and related crime.
Humans need cultural myths and narratives to give them purpose. The American Dream has been that guiding story for much of our country’s history. As I always understood it, that Dream was that we are a nation of laws, not of men. If you work hard and play by the rules, you will prosper and your community will flourish. That dream was often more aspirational than real, but mostly it didn’t seem too far-fetched. These days, with the idle rich making money hand over fist, hard working Americans going bankrupt from medical bills or lack of opportunity, and the wicked going unpunished, that Dream is being stretched to the breaking point. Once deprived of the narratives that give our lives positive meaning, we succumb to nihilism or other pernicious ideologies.
Is this a lot of freight for me to be putting on a simple employment contract out of Muncie? Sure. But all of these things are connected. And we’re not going to make a lot of progress on the immediate problems unless we recognize the underlying structural problems.