War on Teachers: Billionaires target their pensions as website highlights low pay

War on Teachers: Billionaires target their pensions as website highlights low pay
The war on US teachers featured two new battles this week in Colorado and Illinois.

The new Rocky Mountain website ByATeacher highlights the growing trend of underpaid teachers who need second jobs by offering them a recruitment service - in exchange for a 20 percent cut.

One in five teachers have additional jobs in Colorado, according to the Center for American Progress, including tutoring, house sitting, and minding pets.

Speaking to Colorado Public Radio, site creator Bryan Carruthers said a lot of his friends were teachers and he noticed a number of them had second jobs.

The site’s “About me” section allows teachers to detail what work they can do, besides educating our children, as well as their schedule and availability when they aren’t shaping young minds, grading papers, and buying supplies when the district runs out.

The average elementary school teacher in Colorado earns around $50,000 annually, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the starting salary is $38,000.

In Illinois, retired teachers are in the crosshairs of "0.01 percent" Governor Bruce Rauner, who was branded a “new ISIS recruit” last week by Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis for his “acts of terror on poor and working class people.”

Despite the multi-million dollar golden parachutes handed out to executives even if their company fails, the state system in which 7,499 retired teachers receive an annual pension of $100,000 or more has been labeled “corrupt” and earned the state a negative credit rating from Moody’s, one of the agencies that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

Corporations, trusts, and estates in Illinois pay just a 5.25 percent state tax rate on net income while individuals, no matter how rich or poor they are, pay 3.75 percent.

The mainstream media and right-wing-backed "advocacy organizations” such as Open The Books point to the millionaires who are moving out of Illinois and the tiny handful of retired teachers who have the audacity to continue serving the public in another government job and earning both a wage and a pension.

The cost of those top teacher pensions is $900 million, according to failed Republican candidate for governor Andrew Andrzejewski, an amount roughly equivalent to the net worth of the not-quite-a-billionaire governor.

The Illinois Constitution presents a road block for both sides, as it protects pension benefits and prohibits the establishment of a graduated income tax system.

Deputy Majority Leader of the Illinois House, Lou Lang, wants to raise the top tax rate to 9.75 percent, which would make it the country’s fourth highest after California, Oregon, and Minnesota, according to a Forbes editorial deriding the bill.

Chicago Public Schools are set to lose $74 million in next year’s budget under an education funding plan proposed by Rauner.

Teachers will be forced to strike, according to Lewis, who said the cuts would further affect the 1.3 million children in the Chicago metro area living in poverty, “89 percent of whom we teach in our schools.”