By Ben Velderman

WASHINGTON,D.C.– Teacher union leaders are pushing for higher taxes on the wealthy – also known as “the 1%” – to help bail out the nation’s public schools, many of which spend 80 percent of their budgets on Big Labor costs.

But individual taxpayers aren’t the teacher unions’ only tax targets. A few weeks ago, the National Education Association began a lavish media campaign to close seven corporate tax loopholes it says would generate over a trillion dollars that could then be poured down the rat hole, commonly known as K-12 spending.

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So the teacher unions and other left-wing groups are on their typical election-year “eat the rich” campaign. What makes this noteworthy is a new media report that shows many Big Labor leaders – including teacher union presidents – are actually in that loathsome “top 1%” of Americans who earn more than $343,927 a year.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, for example, makes the princely sum of $493,859. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel makes a combined $397,721 in salary and benefits.

Ever read the Orwell novel “Animal Farm,” in which the pigs lead the farm animals in a revolt against a cruel farmer, then end up moving into the farm house, wearing the farmer’s clothing and walking on their hind legs? Weingarten and Van Roekel have a lot in common with those pigs.

“It’s tremendously embarrassing for the union officers,” industrial relations professor Gary Chaison told “It distances them from the rank and file. How can you represent workers and their problems when you’re in the 1 percent?”

The answer is that it takes a special kind of chutzpah – the kind that allows the NEA to advocate for higher corporate taxes when the group itself paid no taxes on the $399 million it collected in forced membership dues in 2010-11, as Dropout Nation’s RiShawn Biddle recently reported.

It’s true that Big Labor leaders don’t make the multimillion dollar salaries that many top CEOs do. But one could argue that since corporate CEOs oversee companies that actually produce something of value, they have a right to higher earnings – at least whatever their shareholders deem appropriate.

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On the other hand, teacher union leaders (and other Big Labor bosses) don’t actually produce anything, except envy, strife, and the dumb argument that professional employees should be treated as indistinguishable and interchangeable workers.

Worse, teacher union leaders protect a status quo within public education that has resulted in stagnant or declining student achievement, even as K-12 “investments” balloon.

So Big Labor leaders get to live like “the 1%,” courtesy of members’ dues dollars.  We wonder when the farm animals will get around to overthrowing the pigs.