Teacher unions ripping off taxpayers

April 10, 2019

Trent England

You must support the status quo in education plus more money. That is how you "support kids," and anything less from you is a moral outrage. You may not go to Heaven.

That is the message from some opponents of education reform in Oklahoma and across the country. So it's thought provoking to read this AP story about public schools in Mexico. These schools are the product of blindly defending the status quo and pouring in more and more money. And, of course, there are defenders of this system there, too.

A federal audit of education spending in 2017 found 141,265 phantom positions, such as teachers who were no longer teaching. The audit also showed 1.39 billion pesos ($77 million) in irregular payments from education funding, such as unusually high salaries and payments to non-teaching union personnel.

This is nothing new. The left-leaning Guardian admitted as much in a 2017 story and The Economist wrote about it back in 2014.

The first ever government census of schools in Mexico shows that 13% of all people registered on the schools’ payrolls do not turn up to work. That is 298,000 out of a total of 2.25 million, divided among those who receive a paycheck but appear to be figments of someone’s imagination; who work somewhere else; who are on leave (often as union representatives); or who have quit, retired or died. Organisations that represent outraged parents call it the “theft of the century.”

Emilio Chauyffet, the education minister, says the government will now comb through the data to see who among the missing it can stop paying. But it won’t be easy. The teachers’ unions are strong and have long resisted efforts to make them more accountable to taxpayers.

Is spending money on fake teachers good for kids? Absurd, you say? But that's what we hear pretty much every day in Oklahoma—that any dollar given to the government school system is "for kids" and an "investment in our future." If a waterfall is worth building in a school atrium, and it's fine to pay teachers not to teach but to work full time for a union, and buying every kid a MacBook is essential but teaching second graders to read is not ... why draw the line at paying for fake teachers?