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Teacher union officials need to do the math

OFFICIALS at the West Virginia Education Association, one of two competing teacher unions in the state, launched their annual drive for pay raises.

Let us review. Statistics from the National Education Association show:

 

  • West Virginians devote 5.7 percent of their personal income to education, which ties the state for fifth place nationally.
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  • The national average is 4.8 percent.
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  • West Virginians spend $12,317 a year per student on education, ranking No. 18 in the nation.
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  • The national average is $12,037.
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  • West Virginians devote 37.4 percent of their state and local taxes to education, ranking No. 13.
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  • The national average is 34.4 percent.
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  • West Virginians pay their teachers an average of $44,260 a year, which is No. 48 in the nation.
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  • The national average is $55,633.
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  • West Virginia teacher salaries are 80 percent of the national average.
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    These numbers do not add up.

    How can the state beat the national average in school spending per child and still manage to be 20 percent below the national average on teacher salaries?

    Despite beating the national average on spending per student, West Virginia's educational results are far from stellar.

    A thorough review of the state's public school system, released last year by the independent consultant, Public Works, showed students in West Virginia rank 47th in performance.

    That audit offered more than 100 suggestions, but very few of them made it into this year's education reform package passed by the Legislature in 2013.

    "We have encountered no other state that insulated its education system so much from gubernatorial - or voter - control," the audit said.

    Teacher unions have lobbied long and hard for legislators and the state Supreme Court to remove that control from the voters.

    Now union officials want a pay raise. Taxpayers are tapped out. The only way to fund pay raises is by giving up some of that control.


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