According to the newspaper's Jan. 6 article, "W.Va. Unions: Raise Teacher Pay," the West Virginia Teacher Unions, the WVEA and AFT-WV, are demanding an increase in teacher salaries because teachers make more in the neighboring states of Ohio and Virginia. West Virginia teachers average $45,300, compared to $56,700 in Ohio and $48,700 in Virginia, according to date published by the National Education Association.
What the union leaders do not mention is that the average salaries in Ohio and Virginia are $46,800 and $61,700, respectively, and West Virginia is at $40,100, according to statistics published by the United States Census Bureau. What that means is West Virginia pays its teachers at a rate of 112 percent of the state's average salary while Ohio is at 121 percent and Virginia is lower at 79 percent. West Virginia is easily in the top half of states when the average teacher's salary is compared to its state's average income. We can all make statistics say whatever we want them to say.
I'm for doubling the salaries of the best teachers if you give me a say in weeding out the worst ones. The WVEA makes an unconvincing argument. Comparing West Virginia salaries to Ohio and Virginia salaries does nothing for me. West Virginia generally ranks in the bottom five in all education categories, so I don't see how just paying teachers more across the board solves that problem. Paying the good teachers more certainly makes more sense than what is being proposed. If you simply paid the best teachers $3,000 more per year, their national rank would shoot up to number 35 and a $6,000 increase takes the number to 24th in the country.
I know this is an impossible dream with the teacher unions, but I would much rather hear the union presidents tell me why the teachers deserve more money because of their own performance rather than just because a neighboring state with a totally different set of circumstances pays more. How is that different from a private employee saying that he or she deserves more money because their neighbor makes more than they do? What does that have to do with anything? What boss is going to take that raise request seriously?