May 19, 2000
California Governor Gray Davis' recent proposal to eliminate the state income tax for teachers has to rank right up there as one of the dumbest proposals ever! This clearly is an attempt by Davis to pander to one of his biggest supports in his election as Governor, the California Teachers Association (CTA).
Instead of garnering the unions favor he has brought about a firestorm of critisim on this proposals, including the rank-an-file of the CTA to the California Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. Not only does it do very little in raising the pay scale for the teachers (it doesn't even keep up with the cost of living) but it singles out teachers who would only draw the wrath of the rest of the state's taxpayers.
If Governor Davis had talked with the teachers he would have found out that they are not looking for handouts, especially the kind with strings attached, but are looking for a salary that reflects their level of professionalism.
One of the key issues in improving the quality of education has been the need to hire and retain quality educators, this ill-fated proposal falls short in reaching this goal. Educators who have attained Bachelors and Masters degrees are being asked to enter a field that starts out in $30k range and after twenty or so years tops out at $60k. It is hard to retain an educator with a Master's degree when they can go into the private sector starting out at $60k.
Governor Davis, who has attached his political career to the rise and fall SAT test scores, should withdraw his tax exempt proposal and instead address the issue of teacher's pay and make a difference where it really counts.