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Steve Lunetta: Torn over teachers

Posted: March 30, 2009 12:40 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
I am locked in a true conundrum. A conundrum is defined by Webster's as "an intricate and difficult problem."

I've had other conundrums in life before, of course. I had to choose between the Accord and the Camry (the Camry won). The Dodgers and the Angels were always a tough choice when I was younger but then I decided to root for a major league team and chose the Dodgers.

When I was in college, I had to choose between a movie with my girl and eating. Fortunately, her Mom often provided dinner so it made that decision easy.

But now, my conundrum is far more complex. I am trying to balance my love, admiration, and respect for teachers with the selfish, arrogant, and, frankly, evil actions of their union.

Please understand, the majority of my family are either educators or employees of a school district. My father-in-law was an agriculture teacher in Moreno Valley and had each of his three daughters as students. His wife was a school secretary.

I have a brother-in-law who is a high school principal and his wife is also a teacher. Another brother-in-law is a system administrator for a school district.

Much of who I am today I owe to teachers. I remember Mrs. Busby who had this piercing voice that could rip out your very soul if you failed to complete your geometry homework. Mrs. Busby also taught me to think critically and use logic to solve problems, something I do every day to support my family.

In her AP History Class, Mrs. Perretta taught me to argue but also to back up my reasoning with sound facts that persuade. It was in her class that I learned to have an open mind and listen to other points of view before making up my own.

My children have benefited mightily from the excellent teachers in this valley. With names like Broyer, Gutwein, Knebel, Ahart, Hart, Hoffman, Tippet, Eriksson, Izuhara, Richardson, Lopez, Moskal and Swainston, these professionals gave my children the marvelous gift of knowledge.

I also taught for a couple years in graduate school. I lectured, wrote exams, conducted labs, and graded until late in the night. I also Shanghaied my wonderful bride to help me grade papers while watching Johnny Carson in bed.

I understand the value of teaching to myself and my family. This is what makes the next part so difficult.

Public employee unions, and specifically, the California Teacher's Association, are strangling the Golden State. They are doing this by forcing Sacramento to raise taxes at a time when our economy can ill-afford new burdens to be placed upon it by state government.

It's akin to kicking a man while he's down. Or, giving a glass of water to a drowning man.

The CTA is supporting a 1 percent increase in sales tax within California. Now, remember, this is in addition to the fact that California already had the top marginal income tax rate and highest base sales tax rate in the nation (MyMoneyBlog).

On April 1, sales tax will rise from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent. Including city/county taxes, this will make the sales tax rate more than 10 percent in some areas.

Personal income taxes will rise 0.25 percent. A single person making $47,055 in taxable income will be hit with a tax burden of 9.55 percent. This is in addition to federal taxes.

Vehicle license fees will soon double. Also, your child tax credit will be reduced by $210. All of these new taxes will wind up costing the average California taxpayer an average of $963 per year.

And the CTA merely shrugs its shoulders and says "it's for the children." Instead of offering to renegotiate its contracts with the state and maybe give up some of the sweetheart pension and pay programs it has been given over the years, the CTA won't hear of it.

Instead of taking an across-the-board pay reduction to save teacher's jobs as many in private industry are now doing, the union's grand plan is to force you to pay more. Never mind that the economy is in the tank and people are struggling to make ends meet.

The CTA is ordering you to cough up $963 more from your household budget so that this economic downturn does not affect them.

"It's for the children" is their cry. Actually, the union merely uses children as a shield to protect its own self-interest.

My conundrum, therefore, pits my immense respect and admiration for teachers versus the selfish and Machiavellian acts of their union. Mrs. Busby and Mrs. Perretta, you taught me too well. I pick teachers over their union any day.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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