Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and
He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to
Assembly Member Haynes
website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]
the Credit Card
unaccountable education bureaucracy...
the state bailed out Vallejo Unified School district by giving
them $60 million. Last year the state bailed out Oakland Unified
by giving that
district $100 million. Over the last three years, more school districts have
come to the state asking for money, and threatening to go bankrupt, than
From 1850 to 1990, not one single school district in the state
went bankrupt. Since 1990, eight districts have gotten themselves
into such financial trouble that the state had to lend them money
to keep them from going bankrupt. For some reason, over the last
15 years, school districts have become less and less responsible
with the money entrusted to them by the state. What is happening?
Why is the system out of control?
Richmond Unified was the first district to run out of money,
and come to the state for enough money to cover its
incompetence. Republicans refused to vote for the bill that would
give Richmond the money unless the district reformed its ways.
Their argument was simple. If the Legislature gave an incompetently
run district money without requiring some real spending reform
in the district, it would literally be throwing the taxpayers’ money
down that same rat hole. Richmond didn’t get its money,
so it sued.
reason, the California Supreme Court ordered the state to give
Richmond the money without strings, claiming that the
state could not allow a district to go bankrupt. The court’s
reasoning was extremely flawed, but, more important; the court
literally ignored some real political facts when it issued its
order. For instance, in many districts, the school board has
been elected by money from the union for the teachers or the
janitors. That board then votes for a sweetheart contract with
that union. If the board does that too often, the district can
go bankrupt. The Republicans knew this, and believed that the
only way to hold the district responsible for this kind of irresponsible
behavior was to allow for the contract to be voided. By ordering
the payment of the money, the court essentially interfered with
the legislative process, and prevented Republicans from holding
the unions responsible. The money had to be paid.
Democrats in the Legislature passed AB 1200, which required
the district to file a lot of reports, and allowed the
state to appoint a receiver to run the district, but the receiver
could not set aside either union or administrator contracts.
The school board of the bankrupt district didn’t get to
vote on district issues, but none of the board members lost their
jobs, or the perks of the jobs.
None of the adults who caused the bankruptcy, and destroyed
the education of the children paid a price for their
incompetence. Lately, districts have figured out that they can
use the state’s general fund as its personal credit card
for a period, and if they get out of control, the board loses
its power for a period, but the union, the administrators, and
the others who make money off of the system don’t really
get hurt. That is why, lately, more and more school districts
are going bankrupt.
Oakland, Fresno, Compton, Coachella, and other districts have
found that, if they scream loud enough, they don’t
have to do anything to get the money. The Legislature has essentially
written checks without any controls on the money. The receiver
goes into the district without the power to hold any of the adults
who caused the problems accountable. How can you bring accountability
to a system when bad laws and bad court decisions prevent reasonable
reforms? Until unions or administrators lose their jobs or their
contracts, they will continue to abuse the state’s credit