California schools used to be the best in the nation. Today, however, they have declined to near the very bottom, ranked now 49th. But in at least one area, California educators have moved to the top. California public school teachers may be failing their students, but the are the highest paid teachers in the nation. Think of it as reverse merit pay, compliments of an immensely powerful teachers union.
I blogged on the cancer of public sector unions here and, in particular, the truly insidious problem of teachers unions. There is little justification for unions today - they won their core battles long ago - and indeed, market realities are seeing private sector unions decline into oblivion. But public sector unions are growing phenomenally and today, outnumber private sector unions in membership. It is a travesty. Public sector unions are causing a major economic crisis in states. Operating outside the constraints of market forces, they soak taxpayers, seek to expand government, they protect the incompetent, they are wedded to the Democrat Party, and they cause major inefficiencies. Nowhere is this more true than in California.
A recent report on lobbying and political contributions in California over the past ten years shows that the most money spent, by two to one, was by the California Teachers Association. They spent $211.8 million. It should be noted that the next closest in spending was also by a public sector union, The California State Council of Service Employees, which spent $107.4 million.
Bookworm Room, commenting on these expenditures as well as the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations the right to political speech, adds:
By the way, do you want to know one of the ways in which the Teachers’ Union spent that money?
For example, the California Teachers Association, which represents 330,000 public school teachers in the state, spent $26 million to defeat a school voucher system in 2000 and another $50 million to kill three other ballot measures.
It makes more laughable than ever the Democrats’ hysterical attack on the Supreme Court for making the way clearer for corporate voices to speak. The fact is, corporations are infinitely more representative of America’s varied voices than are the huge blocks of unions, all of which are aimed at consolidating vast amounts of political power under “progressive” control.
As you will note, much of the expenditures were meant to protect the failing California school system from any competition. A similar story, though this time occurring in Harlem, is told by Carpe Diem:
From the Wall Street Journal:
Today there are 24 Harlem charter schools. They select students by lottery, and they educate about 7,700 of the community's 50,000 school-age kids. Another 5,700 children matriculate at one of Harlem's 30 private and parochial schools.
"Harlem now has more school choice per square foot than any other place in the country," says Eva Moskowitz, who operates four charters in Harlem. Nationwide, the average black 12th grader reads at the level of a white eighth grader. Yet Harlem charter students at schools like KIPP and Democracy Prep are outperforming their white peers in wealthy suburbs. At the Promise Academy charter schools, 97% of third graders scored at or above grade level in math. At Harlem Village Academy, 100% of eighth graders aced the state science exam. Every third grader at Harlem Success Academy 1, operated by Ms. Moskowitz, passed the state math exam, and 71% of them achieved the top score. . . .
With that kind of success, reflected in that kind of demand, who could object to more charter schools? Easy question.
The United Federation of Teachers and its political acolytes in the New York state legislature are hell-bent on blocking school choice for underprivileged families. Worried that high-performing charters are "saturating" Harlem, State Sen. Bill Perkins and State Assemblyman Keith Wright have backed legislation that would gut state per-pupil funding at charter schools and allow a single charter operator to educate no more than 5% of a district's students. Unions dislike charter schools because many aren't organized. But how does limiting the replication of successful public education models benefit ghetto kids?
These obstructionists, Mr. Clark says, aren't doing the community any favors. "The teachers unions ought to be ashamed of themselves because they know better than I do how bad these schools are," he says. "Everybody on my block and in my building and around the corner . . . they all want charter schools. They don't want a political debate."
To paraphrase Dennis Byrne:
If there’s ever an illustration of how “progressive” elites and organized labor are attempting to keep the very people they supposedly care about locked up on the plantation, it’s their consuming opposition to charter schools in Harlem and elsewhere.
For more on the travesty occuring in Harlem, see the NYT article, In Harlem, Epicenter for Charter Schools, a Senator Wars Against Them.
I have vast respect for good teachers and principles. But teacher's unions - and indeed, all public sector unions - are a different matter entirely. They harm the efficiency of every sector in which they are involved, and in the sphere of education, their impact has been near catastrophic. And yet, they are protected at every step of the way by the left.
While only 2.6% of the $787 stimulus went to fund small business loans - the economic engine of our economy - over a third of the stimulus went to keep public sector employees in their jobs - and continuing payment of their union dues. More evidence of that today, and more evidence of how wedded the Democrats are to public sector and teachers unions, from Big Government:
Based on the Recovery.gov data, more than two third of the 594,754.3 jobs “created or saved” with the stimulus funds were “created or saved” in the Department of Education. Basically, what the administration meant by shovel ready projects was funding for your next door teacher.
This is a national crisis and a civil rights issue. The public sector unions - and teachers unions in particular - need to be broken.
- Public Sector Unions: A Toxin, A Crisis & An Opportunity
- Read'n, Writ'n & Unioniz'n
- What, Marx Or Lenin Weren't Available?
- Gov. Chris Christie, What Leadership Looks Like
- California: From Riches To Public Sector Unions To Ruin
- Detroit's Public School System, School Board & Teachers' Union