An Open Letter to Representative Jim Lucas Who Invited Teachers to “Prove Him Wrong”

Jim Lucas has been taunting teachers again. Lucas is a representative in the Indiana House from the Seymour area. He’s no fan of public education. You may have heard of him before. He’s gotten quite bit of attention for his penchant for sharing memes on social media that are demeaning to women. He’s also the one who posted a photo of a gallows with nooses under a social media article about a black man who pleaded guilty to rape.

I’m not here to pronounce Mr. Lucas a misogynist or a racist. I’m just showing a pattern of ignorance toward socially sensitive issues. I don’t know Mr. Lucas personally. For all I know, he may embrace diversity, but one thing is certain, he posts a lot of stuff that an elected official sure ought to know better than to post…things most people who value diversity would never even dream of posting. He claims they were all just misunderstandings. So be it. But he has been perpetuating misunderstanding about education issues lately and that leads me to why I am here. I am going to share, verbatim, a Facebook post that Representative Lucas shared last week after the state teachers’ union released its recommendations to the state legislature regarding education spending. I will paste his words below and then respond to them in two separate portions.

“The Indiana State Teachers Association is asking lawmakers to take $75 million from the state’s budget surplus and put it toward raising the base salary of all teachers this year. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Statehouse leaders have said that teacher pay is an issue that needs to be addressed during the next budget-writing session, in 2021.

FACTS
Public education gets over half of our state budget, over 40% of our property tax dollars and over $1 billion in federal funding.
Every year.
Plus, Hoosier taxpayers put about $1 billion towards teacher pensions.
Every year.
The funding follows the child.
Pay and benefits are decided at the local level.
Indiana is the 3rd worst state in the nation with percentage of public education personnel being teachers, with only 41% of our education workforce being a teacher.
The teachers union is the organization in charge of negotiating for teacher pay and benefits.
Yet, here they are, making an issue of teacher pay, which means they have failed to do their job.
For the state to “do something” about teacher pay, the state would have to take over teacher pay.
Make them state employees.
Have every teacher start out at X amount.
Put every teacher on the state employee health care plan.
Have every teacher get the same percent raise as other state employees do.
The state could do that, but why would we need a teachers union then?
By not paying union dues, there’s an almost $800 raise, per year.
Every year.

Prove me wrong.

PS – Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just following a logical course of action based on the facts.

Don’t worry Mr. Lucas, I’m not going to shoot you (I won’t even imply that you should be publicly hanged by adding a photo of a noose–wink, wink). But you did invite me to prove you wrong, so I am going to take you up on that.

You headed the body of your statement with the word “FACTS”. I’m not really here to call you a liar, nor to dispute your facts. Most of what you wrote might be factually accurate, in a technical sense. However, you and I both know that selective facts can be used to support just about any agenda one wants to push. That’s what politicians do, no? I came here to point out that you left out some very important facts from your list. I’m going to insert some pertinent information to go with your facts and hopefully the people who believed your facts will get a much clearer picture (maybe even women will understand them–wink, wink).

  1. Public education gets over half of our state budget, over 40% of our property tax dollars and over $1 billion in federal funding.
    Every year.

I don’t have the budget in front of me, but I have read the statistics you share and I give you the benefit of the doubt that they are accurate. However, they don’t paint an honest picture. Indiana ranks 47th in the nation in money spent per pupil. What’s more, a good percentage of those funds go to charter and private schools. Over the next two years, public school funding will increase by a little more than 2-percent, but charter school and voucher funding will grow by almost 10-percent. Don’t look now, but your agenda is showing.


2. Pay and benefits are decided at the local level.
Indiana is the 3rd worst state in the nation with percentage of public education personnel being teachers, with only 41% of our education workforce being a teacher.
The teachers union is the organization in charge of negotiating for teacher pay and benefits.
Yet, here they are, making an issue of teacher pay, which means they have failed to do their job.
For the state to “do something” about teacher pay, the state would have to take over teacher pay.
Make them state employees.
Have every teacher start out at X amount.
Put every teacher on the state employee health care plan.
Have every teacher get the same percent raise as other state employees do.
The state could do that, but why would we need a teachers union then?
By not paying union dues, there’s an almost $800 raise, per year.
Every year.

Frankly, this second part of your post made my blood boil, Mr. Lucas. You and your supermajority colleagues have changed the game and now play loose and fast with facts of your own making. You know damn good and well that everything about teacher pay changed about 10 years ago when our state legislature stole our graduated pay scales away from us and neutered our union’s ability to collectively bargain in good faith. You say that it is the job of local districts to decide matters of teacher pay and benefits. The fact is that they used to do that quite nicely. They established a base starting salary and set up a graduated pay increase for every year of service up through 20 or 25 years. Mr. Lucas, when your ilk saw fit to rob us of a consistent rise of salary each year, you doomed us to our current ranking of 51st in the nation for teacher pay growth. You created a system where our current average salary, adjusted for inflation, is less than it was 20 years ago. You created the system that has led to a mass exodus from the teaching profession, especially among our youngest teachers who go year after year with no pay raise and see no hope of climbing out of the hole you put them in. You created the system that has schools of education in our state’s colleges and universities to be starved of students. Enrollment is down dramatically across the board in education training programs. Nobody wants to work in the system you’ve created. Why would they?

Your last sentence, in particular, shows your callous and insensitive view of public educators. You mock us by claiming that the state might take over and treat us the same as other state employees and that we could save almost $800 a year by not paying union dues. How insulting can you be?

Here is another FACT for you and your colleagues, Mr. Lucas. There is change on the wind. We’ve taken notes (and names) about how our legislators have treated public school teachers. We have new blood ready to run against you. A time of reckoning is at hand. You’ve backed what is left of Indiana’s teachers into a corner. We are about to come out swinging.

See you in November, 2020.

Please Help Support This Website

It costs money to maintain this website. Please consider donating in increments of $2.00 Thank you

$2.00

3 Replies to “An Open Letter to Representative Jim Lucas Who Invited Teachers to “Prove Him Wrong””

  1. This is a great post about how Jim Lucas is wrong on education. However, re-posting his disturbing noose picture in your own post is unnecessary, and just as harmful as when Lucas did it originally. It’s jarring to scroll into it with no warning. Please remove it.

    Like

    1. Happy to. I didn’t anticipate it would bother anyone in this context, but if it bothers you, that’s good enough reason to remove it. It’s not integral to the piece.

      Like

  2. Shane, What is the problem with teachers. You are the educated ones in our Union’s but you fall for the same crap every election. Teachers vote for republicans every election. Like the person that makes the same decision every year thinking there will be a different outcome. Teachers vote for the same boards that screw them every year. I live in Randolph County and I can’t remember but one teacher being involved in the election process on the democrat side. You now have state money going to profit schools, how is that helping your members. Teachers are afraid of the board that they elected. I was asked every contact time to rally on the square to support teachers. I did that but not one teacher came to our dinners. You got to change the mindset because your doomed to the same old crapfrom the R’s every year.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s