Teachers strike from coast to coast, education spending is at an all-time high, and students are left in the dust.
Over 35,000 Los Angeles teachers are striking in demands for higher pay and smaller classroom sizes. The Los Angeles Unified School District offered the union that organized the strike, United Teachers Los Angeles, a proposal that included a six percent salary increase, cap the maximum number of students enrolled in a classroom at 39, and increase that amount of staff at each school (nurses, librarians, consolers). The district is making the claim that the demands will bankrupt the local school system.
California teachers were inspired by the “Red for Ed” movement started in West Virginia at the beginning of 2018. The movement was considered to be a success by local unions.
However, there is a reason the CA teachers utilized the inspired rhetoric as opposed to state comparison. There are major differences between the two states that must be addressed to fully understand the school system and its motives.
The median income of a West Virginia public school teacher is roughly $45,240, while a California public school teacher’s salary rests around $74,940.
In 2016, the West Virginia legislature passed Workplace Freedom Act that ensures a person whom is employed may not require to become a union member or pay dues. However, it is the opposite case in CA; residences are required to pay union fees (even if not a part of said union). This requirement has most definitely benefitted the CA teacher unions considering they are cashing in a whopping $300 million per year.
Now all things considered, one would ask, where is the enormous amount of money being utilized? California ranks 45th nationally in reading and math test scores yet spends $55 billion towards education (52% of the state’s spending budget). The correlation between increased spending towards the public school system and improved quality of education does not add up.
As the chart above shows, the increase in administration is disproportionate to the increase in students and teachers. Perhaps the increment spending is not benefiting students or teachers because the funding has been funneled to faceless paper pushers in office buildings.
The problems in public education lies far beyond the CA and WV strikes- it is a national issue. How can teachers put their trust into unions and bureaucrats that solely survive of off the struggles of teachers? How can parents and taxpayers pay into a system that is not producing quality education for the next generation? It is fiscally irresponsibly to ignore the problems surrounding the public school system and not holding those who are responsible accountable.