Commentary

What Do School Districts and the Post Office have in Common?

Employees that are paid for not working!

As Jonathan Butcher explains at Jay P. Greene’s education blog:

Apparently, the U.S. Post Service shells out $1 million every week to “pay thousands of employees to sit in empty rooms and do nothing.” Mail volume has slid 12.6% compared to last year, and the Post Office simply can’t find enough to do to keep postal workers busy. “So they sit — some for a few hours, others for entire shifts…They spend their days holed up in rooms — conference rooms, break rooms, occasionally 12-foot-by-8-foot storage closets…” Funny, this reminds me of grad school (without the free food).

The employees can’t be fired due to union rules, of course. Not only that, but workers at slower post offices can’t even be reassigned to busier locations.

Why does this sound familiar? Because teacher union rules in New York City created something remarkably similar. As The New Yorker pointed out recently (and noted on jaypgreene.com here) , teachers unions have some 600 teachers in the city sit in “rubber rooms,” playing cards, chatting, or fighting over folding chairs. These teachers get their summers off and are getting paid their full salary (in some cases upwards of $100,000 a year).

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.