Friday, October 19, 2018

Reason #3: Do It For the Teachers

The Richardson ISD is asking voters to approve a tax increase. I am voting YES for many, many reasons, but there are some that, all by themselves, are enough to convince me to vote YES.

Reason #3: Do It For the Teachers

Some on the "Vote NO" side of this debate have dismissed the argument that a tax hike will give our teachers a well-deserved raise. And not just teachers — counselors, librarians, nurses, aides, administrators, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc. A few argue that teachers don't deserve raises, but the more common argument is that teachers can be given raises without needing to raise taxes. I don't believe that, but I'm willing to hear them out. As the old directions on math tests say, "Show your work." Some believe rising property values should cover the need, but with the perverse school funding formula, even as local property values go up, the tax revenue available to local school districts doesn't. Some have suggested using borrowed bond money for raises, but that's not allowed. Some have argued that cutting the proverbial waste, fraud, and abuse will do it, but that depends on redefining as waste that which is merely a disagreement on priorities. Everything in the budget has a passionate constituency behind it. So far, no one has offered a broadly popular budget that simultaneously avoids a tax hike and still gives teachers raises.

Face it. Raises cost money. In the case of schools, a lot of money. Ninety percent of RISD's operating budget is devoted to salaries. If you need to spend more, you need to have more revenue. A local tax hike is not my preferred solution. The State picking up a bigger share of funding is, but that's not happening. So I support the least bad solution. A tax hike will make an immediate impact on teachers' take-home pay.

RISD has explained the consequences of voting NO. If the tax ratification election (TRE) fails, those promised raises will be withdrawn. Maybe you believe that if you were in charge you could find a way to afford the raises without additional tax revenue. But those who are in charge say they can't find a way. And because they are in charge, not you, it's wise to believe that if the TRE fails, those promised raises won't happen. Voters don't have to like that to admit that's the way it is.

In RISD in 2018, a tax hike means raises for teachers. No tax hike means no raises for teachers. It's as simple as that. So "Vote YES" for the teachers. They deserve it.

That's the last of my three big reasons to "Vote YES." I have more, but each of those three is enough for me to "Vote YES" on November 6. Together, all three make it a slam dunk decision. Early voting runs from October 22 until November 2.

P.S. If you vote a straight-party ticket, you still have to search out and vote separately for the RISD tax ratification election. Don't accidentally overlook it.


Unknown said...

I absolutely agree that RISD will not give teachers a raise unless the TRE passes. I also agree that the reason is differing priorities on how the currently available money should be/is spent. When $8 million of operating funds (not bond money) is used to benefit athletics as RISD did at their Dec. 11 meeting (please watch the IIA video they posted), it is pretty clear what RISD views as a priority.

Based on an informal question I posed to teachers, money is not their highest priority. If you are interested in what teachers would really like to have, here's a link -

I shared this with the district and the Board but so far, they do not appear to have any interest in implementing what teachers would like. They just want more money to spend on what the admin and BOT would like to have. I personally wish that was academics and retaining teachers.

Mark Steger said...

Comments are welcome, but anonymous comments are not. Unless you are willing to add your name to your words, your comment will be hidden. It will be restored when you do supply your name.

Unknown said...

Thank you Mark for your support of the TRE and RISD. Having previously been a staff member in RISD for 25 years I personally know the importance of valuing our staff and teachers with a pay raise. North Texas is the most competitive area in Texas as far as hiring and retaining teachers. We have for to be able to be competitive and the only way we can do that is with the TRE.

MGrau said...

I am not sure why it doesn't show my name - again it is Marcia Grau who posted earlier today. It shows as a radio button that is clicked with my google account but doesn't stay attached apparently. Eventually, I'll figure out how to post correctly the first time! Thanks.

Mark Steger said...

Marcia, I can't explain why the commenting doesn't show your name. Google is a mess about that. You apparently have a Blogger account (which is part of Google). If you also have a Google account, and it shows that by the radio button, I can't explain why that doesn't take when you click it. In any case, I hope you don't get discouraged from posting. You can always manually add your name to the bottom of the text of your comment just to make sure. Again, I'm sorry for the mishap.