"A.I.G. executives say that they are contractually obligated to pay the bonuses to their executives, including those who are part of the A.I.G. division where the company’s crisis originated." (New York Times, 3/16/09)
What does it say about this country that powerful plutocrats build careers by criticizing teachers and teachers unions for opposing merit based pay scales, while the oligarchs who put these plutocrats in office enjoy contracts that mandate enormous bonuses even for those employees whose actions and decisions destroyed their own companies?
Our teachers fear merit pay proposals for many reasons. For one, they see it as a back-door mechanism for suppressing their already meager wages. For another, the outcome of their educational efforts all too often is affected by factors over which they have no control: from the crumbling physical infrastructure of our public schools, to the strained social fabric of families and communities beset by poverty, crime, unemployment and drug abuse.
Teachers sometimes struggle to cling to a middle-class lifestyle and while so doing often find themselves spending their own money to buy adequate school supplies for their students. And in the meantime, on the other side of the tracks, top executives of financial giants enjoy obscene salaries and bonuses which are in no way correlated to or connected with actual performance... they see them as entitlements, not as a reward for a job well done.
Something needs to be done about a corrupt culture of greed that insists that private companies must be allowed to pay million dollar salaries and multi-million dollar bonuses in order to attract the best talent, while at the same time slashing educational budgets, insisting that "throwing money at the problem" does nothing to solve our educational woes, and informing our nation's public school teachers that from here on out they must learn to do more with less.