AJC reporter James Salzer created quite a stir with his AJC story on the 35 percent raises to top staffers in the Teacher Retirement System. (See down below for a priceless piece of outrage from a Georgia college professor.)
The two investment chiefs at the retirement system took home $609,000 each, almost double what they were paid before the recession hit in 2007. According to state records, the two, Nancie H. Boedy and Charles W. Cary, made slightly more in fiscal 2010 than University of Georgia President Michael Adams, who was listed as earning $601,494. They made more than four times what then-Gov. Sonny Perdue was paid.
Teacher Retirement System officials said the big pay — a combination of salaries and “incentive pay” or bonuses — are needed to keep highly qualified money managers running teacher and state employee retirement programs that are now worth a combined $66 billion.
“For the same type of responsibility they have here, in the private sector they would earn at least double,” said Jeffrey Ezell, executive director of the Teacher Retirement System. “There is that possibility that any of the staff would leave.” Still, some of his top staffers are longtime employees likely to retire with the state, where they could get lifetime pensions in the $200,000 to $300,000 a year range. Of the $609,400 Cary and Boedy were paid in 2010, each got about $236,000 from “incentive pay” or bonuses.
Here is the e-mail from an outraged state college professor that I wanted to share with his permission:
In my opinion, this is an absolute outrage. The very idea that teachers have been suffering and struggling to get by on the reduced pittance this state pays them while Sonny’s appointees get raises and massive bonuses (here and elsewhere) is really well beyond what any reasonable person should entertain.
Call on Deal to rescind these bonuses and distribute the money to teachers immediately—not for this year—but for last year: payment for work already done.
Ms Downey, as far as education is concerned, the State of Georgia has been trying for over a century to get something for nothing. What we get, and what we have always gotten, is exactly what we pay for. We pay very little. You would think that vainly following that same course of action again and again, always hoping for or expecting a different result would eventually sink in and we would try another approach. We don’t do that. While this is the very definition of stupidity, it is also why our state always figures near the bottom of a class of fifty. We struggle to compete with the dregs, our peer states: Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
In addition to horrible pay, diminished benefits and retirement expectations, and owing to the effective efforts of both Democratic and Republican administrations, all k-12 teachers are denied the possibility of tenure. It no longer exists. Politicians, looking for someone or something to blame for their own stupidity, chose to believe that doing away with tenure would straighten things out. Has that happened? It has not: move over Mississippi—make a little more room on the dummy bench.
Now, all new teachers (and all others hired after tenure was dismantled) are subject to the whims of their principals (and whacky school boards!). Let me tell you, Ms Downey, that after having had interviews with several middle and high school principals over the years, I must report that I have never seen (or heard) such a menagerie of louts and imbeciles in my life. Although a Georgia native, my son’s middle-school principal could not manage to speak the English language so that anyone outside of Alabama could possibly comprehend what he said.
Sitting in the room with him, and counting on my fingers, I reckon he averaged about five glaring grammar errors (of every kind imaginable) for every fifteen seconds he spoke—or one every five seconds. While that’s quite an achievement in itself, he is also the man who determines who will teach English, a language he has failed to learn. In addition, he is suspicious (and immediately becomes defensive) when he encounters those who do speak and write properly. It’s quite a dilemma.
Yet anyone is his position might fire a teacher for any stated or unstated reason—for political or religious affiliation; race may be an issue; in fact, an administrator needs no legitimate reason at all to fire an untenured teacher (even one with many years experience). Perhaps an equally illiterate cousin is looking for a job—who can say? But because cousin Earl can’t speak English either, we should not expect his classes to do very well on any sort of standardized exam…..I just had a comical vision of Earl and uncle sitting up late into the night trying to correct/alter standardized exams. Typing monkeys could do a better job.
So, Ms Downey, what do you think the chances are that a superb and energetic young teacher graduating from Wisconsin, or from Iowa, or from Minnesota (let’s just say anywhere other than Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana) will show up here and put up with Earl and his uncle? The chances are very slight. I challenge you or any other journalist to come to terms with just how badly we are really doing as a state with regard to education.
We are now almost certainly wholly dependent on teachers educated in Georgia seeking to remain here for various reasons—none, or very few of them professional reasons. There’s simply no motivation for anyone to come here, so they are not coming here. We need them to come here and to stay here.
Now we discover an additional insult to many injuries, that, what by all accounts is a fair to poorly run retirement system, has taken a lesson from Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. All of this was facilitated by a governor who could not find the coin to pay the state’s teachers their miserable salaries in the first place. It’s simply stunning.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog