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Steve Lunetta: Teachers need to weather the storm, as well

Right About Now

Posted: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Last week, we were subjected on a daily basis to the bleatings of the California Teachers Association as it descended upon Sacramento to complain about the “unfairness” of the proposed cuts to education if the temporary sales, personal income and vehicle taxes are not extended.

Teachers chanted, “Tax, tax, tax the rich; we can solve the deficit” as they carried banners and signs into the Capitol building to the annoyance of legislators and other state employees. Rather poetic justice, come to think of it.

C’mon, the chant didn’t even rhyme. I mean, if they had chanted, “Tax, tax, tax the rich. Cutting us is a glitch.” Or maybe,
“Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Fiscal sense has got to go.” Or better, “Gimmee more. Gimmee more. The state has cash and goodies galore.”

I think its fascinating that such educated people as teachers believe that taxing rich people is the panacea that cures all ills.
There is a simple truth that must be faced: Rich people can move out of California. Rich people start companies that create jobs. Fewer rich people, fewer jobs.

CBS News reported Union City math teacher Charmaine Kawaguchi saying, “I watched us last year, and now we’re worse off. So now I’m willing to do anything to make it better.” How about starting a company to create income or employment for others, eh, Charmaine?

Ms. Kawaguchi exhibits the myopic view that most other public service employees suffer from. They do not realize that it’s worse for all of us, not just teachers, librarians, police officers or DMV workers. State tax revenues are down because there is less to tax. Folks are unemployed, and businesses are hurting. Welcome to the real world, Charmaine.

How many of you out there are working a second job or had to tap into savings just to make ends meet? How many of you are paying more in health insurance premiums than food bills each month? How many of you skipped a vacation last year because you pumped the cash into your gas tank?

Yeah, I thought so.

But Kawaguchi and her ilk do not care. “Shared sacrifice” is not in her vocabulary. She wants hers, and it does not matter what it costs you. Taxes must be increased to assure that her lifestyle is not affected.

Coalinga High School government and economics teacher Doug Nielsen said that he disliked Republican legislators’ adherence to ideology and failure to deal with the “crisis in public education.” He said, “if we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer. You can’t have first-class teaching on a Third World budget.”

Well, Doug, you can’t have first-class anything with a Third World economy either. If we continue to strangle business and the general public with an ever-increasing tax burden, our economy will continue to shrink. That makes absolutely no sense.

Another thing, Doug. Numerous studies have shown that academic success does not necessarily correlate to spending on education. Private schools often cost less to educate than public schools but seem more capable of turning out a better student product.

You seem to think that the more we spend, the more education we get. OK. Let’s pay teachers based on standardized test scores. Kids get smarter; teacher gets paid more. Seems simple enough. Because that is how it works in the real world. You get paid based on how you perform and what you produce.

Also, Doug, it is all about ideology. You are self-deluded into believing that your value to society is greater than anyone else’s. Republicans (and many Democrats, for that matter) believe that we all contribute, and we are in this together. Just because you teach children does not make you privileged and exempt from what the rest of us go through.

Selfishness is something we teach our children NOT to be. I guess the teachers in Sacramento forgot that small fact.

Also, many of these teachers claimed that teaching children is their No. 1 priority. I find this curious since they were in Sacramento. Not teaching. During the school year. Abandoning their classrooms. Sort-of makes us question the genuineness of their protestations.

In the end, the teachers protesting in Sacramento showed their true colors. They are simply another special-interest group feeding at the trough of California state-tax dollars. And the rest of us have had enough. Time to strip teacher’s unions of collective bargaining powers and return power to taxpayers.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and always rhymes his protest chants. He can be reached at


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