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School 'Insurance Policy'

February 09, 1986

I would like to point out that, while Harry Bernstein may be correct generally about teacher salaries, he is dead wrong about those in California.

Legally, in California, a beginning teacher cannot receive less than $20,000 a year. This would be much higher if it were not for the unions.

As a management negotiator for schools since the inception of the collective bargaining law, I have tried repeatedly to get unions to bring beginning teachers' salaries closer to $30,000 in many districts. But unions don't want high salaries for beginners. That is not where their membership is. Unions refuse to negotiate other than on a percentage basis, and this gives top salaries more. The aim is to get the top salary as high as possible.

For many teachers, teaching is a secondary income. In one district in which I negotiated, I made an analysis of the family income of all the teachers. It averaged about $59,000--putting these families in the top 5% of all family incomes in the United States. Only about 4% of these teachers had single incomes in the family.

In addition to negotiating for higher salaries for the oldest teachers, California unions continually aim at less teaching for more money.

And it should be remembered that teachers really work only about 9 1/2 months a year.

We should have it so bad, financially. On the other hand, the teacher complaint most voiced is pupil unwillingness to learn, which we shouldn't have.

GERALD E. DART

Calimesa

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