Ron Nate has a long way to go to catch up with Frank Drebin.
But he’s trying.
Nate is a Republican legislator from Rexburg. He’s a frequent star on the Gem State stage featuring oddball politics.
Drebin is a police lieutenant in “Naked Gun,” as funny a bit of film-making as you’re likely to find for a St. Paddy’s Day nightcap, Drebin, you might mirthfully recall, leaves a packed press conference for the men’s room, where he does what restroom visitors are wont to do. He’s unaware that every precious ounce of relief and associated sound effects are shared with a broad audience, thanks to his live mic.
On Tuesday, Nate was not the least bit relieved to learn that a comment he made to another legislator during a break was live streamed from the House to the public. Like Drebin, Nate was unaware his mic was live.
“We all know our districts; we all know there are teachers there clearly overpaid,” Nate was clearly heard to say. He insisted later that he did not recall making the comment.
This might surprise you, but today we defend Rep. Nate. He has every right to say some teachers are overpaid because there’s absolutely no question, some teachers are overpaid. It’s also true that some teachers are underpaid.
Nate was arguing against a proposed $2 million appropriation for public school counseling services when he noted that money could instead be used to hire 53 more teachers. That doesn’t exactly sound like a guy who’s anti-teacher, does it? And outside the warm embrace of the teachers union, don’t most folks suspect there’s an instructor here and there who might not be fully earning his or her keep?
That’s not a rip on teachers; it’s just the way of the work-a-day world. We would argue some employees in every arena are probably underpaid, most are paid fairly, and a few are overpaid.
Teachers are targets because they get summers off and nice breaks during the school year. Critics like to point out that a $40,000 or $50,000 salary plus good benefits ain’t bad for 180 or so days a year in the classroom. But it also kind of begs the question: If these jobs are so great and so easy and so profitable, why are states like Idaho so desperate to hire more teachers?
Idaho legislators, by the way, receive an annual salary of almost $17,000. They also get a per diem that ranges from $49 to $149, plus travel expenses and a nifty benefits package. They’re scheduled to work about as long as teachers have off in the summer: Three months.
We think Frank Drebin would be the first to agree, some legislators are clearly overpaid.