Nation-Leading Teacher Pay… and the Constitutional Convention


A source provided me some information, this morning, that I had to put aside for the moment because I’ve just got too much going on.  I may still dig into it (although I encourage anybody else with an interest to beat me to it), but two things that have come across my computer screen in the past hour make it worth mentioning, at least.

The information was that a teachers’ union approached a local Second Amendment coalition group with the suggestion that a constitutional convention in Rhode Island could infringe on the right to own firearms. Oh, and by the way, the union went on, it’d be really swell if the gun folks could contribute $10,000 to the anti-con-con con.

Pause a moment to consider the cynical irony of such a move.  The government labor unions are fully hand-in-glove with the progressive movement, which is the home of would-be gun confiscators.  In other words, they’re hoping the Second Amendment activists don’t pick up on the fact that the unions are concerned that a constitutional convention might erode their own power… and therefore their ability to erode Second Amendment rights.

Remember that most of the anti-con-con fearmongering has to do with the implementation of conservative policies.  On this one, it appears that the progressives are feigning concern that a convention might do what they try to do with every legislative session.

I found it relevant, therefore, when I clicked on the RI Taxpayer Times in my email and followed a link to an interactive chart from Rasmussen College, showing which states boast the highest pay for professionals in different careers, in absolute terms and adjusted for local cost of living.  For all jobs, Rhode Island comes in tenth, in absolute terms, and seventh in adjusted terms, at $37,994.  That’s well below the adjusted $40,886 in Massachusetts and significantly below the adjusted $38,647 in Connecticut.

What’s interesting, though, is the point highlighted by RI Taxpayers.  Here’s RI’s results when it comes to teachers (on an adjusted basis):

  • Kindergarten Teachers (excluding special education), #1: $69,108 (MA: $59,487; CT: $63,601)
  • Elementary School Teachers (excluding special education), #1: $74,093 (MA: $63,479; CT: $63,665)
  • Middle School Teachers (excluding special education and career/tech), #1: $70,446 (MA: $62,771; CT: $64,963)
  • Secondary School Teachers (excluding special education and career/tech), #1: $70,344 (MA: $64,086; CT: $63,775)
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Special Education Teachers, #1: $72,351 (MA: $59,300; CT: $67,112)
  • Middle School Special Education Teachers, #1: $73,556 (MA: $58,731; CT: $68,108)
  • Secondary School Special Education Teachers, #1: $73,698 (MA: $58,237; CT: $68,912)
  • Secondary School Career/Technical Education Teachers, #1: $78,571 (MA: $64,254; CT: $68,300)

Adjusting for cost of living and comparing Rhode Island with its neighboring states, Ocean State teachers in these categories make between 7% (CT Middle School Special Ed) and 27% (MA Secondary Special Ed) more than their counterparts next door.

What’s more, a spot-check of the results for categories of teachers who don’t tend to be as ensconced in government unions — whether substitutes, preschool teachers, or post-secondary teachers — shows Rhode Island snapping back to national ranks more in line with the state’s overall results.

If you’re wondering why Rhode Island’s government school teachers do so well, comparatively, turn to the other thing that passed across my screen: the video of Grover Norquist suggesting that labor unions oppose a constitutional convention because they’ve already got “the best legislature that money can buy.”

It’s a straightforward task to achieve pay that’s so much better than your neighbors’ when the state government continually improves your ability to take ownership of the local government with which you negotiate, impedes people’s ability to judge your performance, and entrenches the structure that makes it all possible.  When you’re in a position of such advantage, even the modest risk that somebody not under your thumb might be able to change things a little can be a very scary thing.