MY TURN By Michael Garrett

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:47

    Time to take a stand against school bureaucracy There are 2,992 counties in the United States. According to a just released study, Sussex County has the unenviable distinction of being the 17th highest taxed county in the nation. Since 70 to 80 cents of every dollar we pay in property taxes go to the schools, perhaps the NJEA would consider rewording their favorite slogan to read “If you love your taxes, thank a teacher.” The Sussex/Wantage district is currently in negotiations with the teachers union. Many of us who pay their salaries are taking pay and benefit cuts just to keep our jobs. Others have already lost theirs; some are threatened with the loss of their homes. But it all seems to matter little to the teachers who have absolute job security for life. Word is out that they will continue to refuse to consider paying even a small portion of their top-of-the-line healthcare benefits, preferring instead to force taxpayers to fork over the entire sum. The union is also insisting on very attractive pay raises for each of the next three years. It is long past time that thinking taxpayers reject the propaganda of, by far, the most powerful union in New Jersey. Right-minded teachers must tell their union that enough is enough; they must no longer financially strangle their fellow citizens. We have seen what happens when an out-of-control union insists on totally unreasonable salaries and benefits. The United Auto Workers union has brought three of this country’s largest corporations to their knees. They will in all likelihood be in bankruptcy within months. The teachers union in New Jersey is going down the same road. The auto workers will put themselves and their employers out of business. New Jersey teachers will still have their jobs. It’s the citizens who are forced to pay their salaries that face bankruptcy. The good people of Sussex/Wantage have it within their power to halt the greed of the school bureaucracy. They can turn out at the polls and vote during school board elections. They can support their neighbors who have the courage to confront the radical teachers union. As long as we permit the union members with a personal vested interest to monopolize these elections we will get just what we deserve: ever-higher taxes, continuing unconscionable demands for more pay and benefits, less productivity (today it takes a teacher and a paid co-teacher to do the work once done by one real teaching professional.) Far too many parents with kids in the “system” are intimidated and fearful of the ramifications should they vote contrary to the demands of their children’s teachers. Remember that elections are still secret. Thankfully the NJEA union hasn’t been able to change that. At least not yet. Michael Garrett is the owner of Shale Hills Farm and a founding member of the Sussex/Wantage Taxpayers Association.