What is the most important lesson that a teacher can impart to their children? I’ve had so many inspirational teachers who taught me so many valuable things I wouldn’t know where to start. What lesson are the teachers unions in Detroit teaching their children – money is more important than education.

I’m sure many of the individual teachers in Detroit are fantastic individuals and sacrificially teach their children as best they can, but the unions do not care about the education of the children or even obeying the law. Their primary concern is getting more money for the union.

The Detroit Public Schools are going broke. Crime is running rampant in the classrooms. Disciple is an afterthought. Academic standards are low and sometimes nonexistent. Parents are pulling their children out by the thousands each year. Just 22 percent of Detroit public school students graduate.

What is the most important thing in all of this according to the teachers union? Higher wages.

Last year, according to the school district, 81% of the budget went to salaries. That’s almost $1,160,000,000. This year, they have cut the percentage to 77% ($1,056,572,991). The superintendent, executive staff and all other non-union employees have taken 10% wage concessions this year and last year.

But many may say, "Sure, but that doesn’t tell us anything about what the average teacher makes per year." The Detroit Free Press reports "the pay range now is about $36,000 for a beginning teacher to a top salary of about $70,000." The union is currently asking for anywhere between a 5 and 15% raise. The district is not asking for a cut in wages, but a reduction in fringe benefits such as bonus pay for attendance and health care benefits.

Are some teachers worth millions of dollars? Sure. But some aren’t worth close to $36,000. Teachers, just like everyone else, know what the pay range is for their job when they go into the position. If you ask me, starting out at $36,000 is pretty good. Then maxing out at $70,000 plus benefits is not exactly scraping by.

The strike and the repercussions are only getting worse. Students are not being taught, while more and more parents decide to remove their children from the failing schools, further damaging the school financially.

But that’s not the only issue in this case. Not only do the unions consider financial gain more important than education, they consider it more important than the law. A 1994 state law made it illegal for public employees, including teachers, to strike.

The district has asked the courts to step in and force the teachers back to work since they are breaking the law by going on strike. The judge hearing the case is Circuit Judge Susan Borman, who has indicated that she may view the 1994 unconstitutional for violating the separation between the legislature and the courts. (Didn’t the courts in Mass. require the legislature to pass gay marriage? Guess that was different.)

It should come as no surprise that Judge Borman may side with the unions, they have contributed to her campaigns in the past. She has gotten particularly large gifts from education unions, including a $10,000 contribution from the Michigan Education Association political action committee.

As a local talk show host said yesterday, this illustrates the priorities of teachers unions, maybe not teachers, but definitely teachers unions.

If we lived in a Utopian society, it would be fantastic to pay all the good teachers the highest wage possible. I would love to see a culture that paid teachers more than professional athletes. Those are wonderful ideals, but they are not (and cannot be) reality.

Public school teacher pay comes from the tax payer, who is not an endless well. Sure it sounds nice to say, "Pay teachers more," but do you think you should pay more in taxes to accomplish that goal?

Looking at this case in Detroit, I can’t see how you can come up with any other conclusion than the teacher’s unions place more emphasis on getting more money than teaching the children or obeying the law. If this was an evil, big business, we would call that greed.