Jim Gray: Having Public School Teachers Who Don’t Teach Is Unacceptable

We’ve all heard about farmers being paid price supports not to grow crops. Well now, in New York City, we have teachers being paid not to teach!

According to the New York Times, teachers who either had disciplinary problems, bad teaching records, or who worked in schools that had either been closed, or were experiencing a decline in enrollment, were paid $150 million in salary last year alone. And none of them teach anything.

That constituted a full 822 teachers, more than 200 of whom had been receiving those payments for at least five years. And they are paid an average annual salary of $94,000 per year. They could have been re-engaged as teachers, but their performance was so poor that none of the school principals wanted them. And since the teacher’s unions were so strong that they couldn’t be fired, they were being paid their full salaries not to teach.

How can a society that holds itself up as the land of the free tolerate such a result? And how many other school districts around the nation are in the same situation?

In today’s world, imagine how much of a benefit it would have been to the students to have had that money for smaller classrooms, extra labs, field trips or tutors? In too many places around our country our schools are failing our children. So we must decide the true purpose our educational system. Is it to educate our children, or to hold comfortable jobs for below-average “teachers” who don’t teach?

Liberty means that our children’s interests must be placed ahead of supporting teachers who cannot teach. Thomas Jefferson famously said that we should have a bloody revolution every generation to keep the vested special interests at bay.

Fortunately, our Constitution has given us a means for the revolutions not to be bloody. But how long has it been since a revolution? When witnessing outcomes like this, we are reminded: We must never allow this kind of result to occur.

(Photo of thousands of New York City teachers rally in Foley Square in October 2016 to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio to approve the opening of new charter schools, which members of the teacher’s union are against. The protesters want to see the doubling of the number of students served by charters to 200,000, which would be 20 percent of the city’s public school enrollment. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)

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Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) was a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County, California for 25 years, and was the running mate of Gary Johnson in the 2012 presidential contest, as well as the Libertarian Party's 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. The author of multiple books and a play, he is a critic of current American drug laws.

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