By: Sharon Byrne
Why did the school bond measures fail in June? Over the years, perhaps voters have noticed that no matter how much money we hand over to Sacramento for education, our kids still test on par with Mississippi. Every year, those of us with kids in public schools face further budget cuts, and try to fill the shortages.
I was the proud parent of a 1st grader when the state budget cuts hit in 2003. We funded art, music, and PE (newly cut) with parent donations of $330 per child. The next year, the budget was worse. We did fundraisers, carnivals, and bake sales. The following year Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives failed. Parcel taxes arose as an emergency relief valve for crucial local school funding, until the state budget was restored.
The Great Recession was still 2 years off…
How does California stay mired in this educational morass, year after year, whether in boom times or bad?
Trot out all the usual suspects, but start also looking at the California Teachers Association. The image is apples and pencils, but with 325,000 members and annual dues collection of more than $1,000 per year from every teacher in the state, they’ve got serious muscle. In 2009, the CTA’s income was more than $186 million, all of it tax-exempt.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission reported in 2010 that the CTA had spent more than $210 million over the previous decade on political campaigning—more than any other donor in the state. They outspent the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, and the tobacco industry combined.
A brief look at their legislative record: