Furlough This

On Tuesday 22 September, public school teachers in Hawai‘i will vote voted on a contract, negotiated for them by their union leaders and the State Governor We the People. A contract that, through the expedient of mandatory furloughs, will amount to a salary cut of just under 8%. Since the schools are to be closed during furlough days, the instructional year in 2009-10 and 2010-11 will be several days shorter.

Now that you know this, please consider the following true story.

A man and his female companion walk up to a display case in a Honolulu supermarket. In the display case, avocados are on sale, 10 for $10. Quilly overhears their conversation:

She: “Ten for ten dollars? Sounds like a good deal.”

He: “No it isn’t. Half of them will rot before we get around to using them.”

Quilly: “You don’t have to buy ten to get the price.”

He and She: “We don’t?

Quilly: “You don’t, I’m sure of it.”

At this moment, a store employee walks by. Quilly poses the question to her.

Employee: “No, you certainly don’t have to buy ten at a time. Take as many as you need; the register will calculate the pro-rated price when you check out.”

Exit the store employee. The couple takes in the information that she and Quilly have given them.

He: “This is great. Now if we can only figure out how much three avocados cost …”

Now tell me how many instructional days our school systems can afford to lose.

When Quilly told me this story, I was reminded of another exercise in instructional arithmetic that has been making the rounds of the blogosphere. She had found it a couple of days ago on a new friend’s blog, but I tracked it back at least to February 2007. In that tracking back, I found a number of versions, several of which showed multiplication skills at least as shocking as those of the avocado-buying couple. I post my edited version of the eldest copy of the tale that I could find.

I, for one, am sick and tired of those high paid teachers. Their hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months a year!

It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do: baby-sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. I would give them $3.00 an hour, for only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time. That would be $21.00 a day (7:45 AM to 3:30 PM with 45 min. off for lunch – unpaid, of course).

Each parent should pay $21.00 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now, how many do they teach in a day … maybe 30?

So that’s 21 X 30 = $630.00 a day. But remember they only work 180 days a year! I’m not going to pay them for any vacations. Let’s see. . . that’s $630 x 180 = $113,400.

What about those special teachers or the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage just to be fair. Round it off to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 times 7 hours per day times 30 children times 180 days = $264,600 per year.

The moral is clear. On Tuesday, the teachers of Hawai‘i should reject have rejected the scabby contract that We the People have the damned gall to try to stuff down their throats, shut down the schools (all of the schools, Punahou, Kamehameha, et al.), and opened a babysitting service under the terms of the standard teenager’s agreement. For the first time in their lives, they might have earned a living commensurate with their skills and the costs of their education.

At least, they would have until the Chinese, who understand the true value of education, take over America.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. Funny, if it weren’t so sad. On the other hand Avocados- a buck a pop would have been the Christian way to write that sign.

    • Doug, don’t get me started on marketing ploys. Especially when coupled with an education system that (by design?) doesn’t give its products the tools to recognize and cope with them.

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