Unions ruined California schools

Conn Carroll:
"Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children," California Gov. Jerry Brown said in his January State of the State address. "If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify."

Bad news, governor: California is already failing its children. And it wasn't always this way.

According to RAND Corp., as late as the 1970s California's public schools still had an "excellent" reputation. Then, in 1975, Brown (in his first stint as California's governor) signed the Rodda Act, giving government unions the power to take money directly out of government employees' paychecks.

The California Teachers Association quickly poured this new revenue stream into an organizing drive, more than doubling the union's ranks. The Golden State's politics have never been the same since -- nor has the quality of its public schools. Between 2000 and 2010, the CTA spent more than $211 million to influence California voters and elected officials. That is more money than the oil, tobacco and hospital industries combined.

The CTA's first big political victory came in 1988, when it helped pass Proposition 98, which amended the California Constitution to mandate that at least 39 percent of the state budget be spent on K-12 education spending. Since then, California teacher salaries have skyrocketed and are now among the highest in the nation (only Massachusetts and New York pay more).

At an average salary of $69,434 per year, a family of two teachers would bring in almost $140,000 in income per year. That is almost triple the state's $57,000 median family income -- and teachers get summers off.

But all of that money for teachers salaries hasn't helped students in the classroom. By 1992, the first year for which state-by-state comparisons are available, California ranked second to last among states tested (ahead of only Mississippi), in reading proficiency among fourth-graders.

Since then, California per pupil education spending has continued to rise, and student test scores have not. In 2011, the most recent year available, California eighth-graders finished 48th in reading, ahead of just Louisiana and Mississippi, and 48th in math, ahead of just Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps California should change its state motto to "Thank God for Mississippi."

One big reason California's highly paid teachers are failing to educate California's public school students is that their pay has nothing to do with their ability to educate kids.

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Teachers' unions have been a destructive force in American education, especially in states that have allowed the corrupting influence of having the state deduct dues which goes into a pot to support Democrats who will then give them more taxpayer money for failing to do their job of educating.  These situations are inherently corrupt because they are negotiating with people they helped to elect and no one is at the table representing taxpayers.  Scott Walker was ale to defeat the unions on this issue in Wisconsin, but California has no one with the integrity to fight this corruption.

How can these people justify their high salaries and their poor performance?  Texas pays less and gets more for the money it spends on education.  Teachers should be paid on performance and not longevity.  They should be forced to compete with private schools through the use of vouchers.

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