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Lance T. Izumi - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Lance Izumi is Director of Education Studies for the Pacific Research Institute and
Senior Fellow in California Studies. He is a leading expert in education policy and the author of several major PRI studies. [go to Izumi index]

California Teachers Association Members Should Join Minutemen
The union could follow the money…
[Lance T. Izumi] 5/19/05

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is hammering the governor with the claim that he’s partially responsible for a $9.8 billion “cut” to K-12 education over the last four years – a claim debunked by the state’s Legislative Analyst. If the CTA really wants to get this money back, however, perhaps it should consider supporting the governor’s pointed comments on illegal immigration.

In recent weeks the governor has been outspoken on various aspects of the illegal immigration issue. He has said that the federal government is not doing its job in controlling the border. He has backed the Minutemen Project, whose volunteers are patrolling the border in Arizona and are having success in reducing the number of illegal border crossings. He even criticized a Los Angeles television station’s billboard that identifies its market as “Los Angeles, Mexico.” The reaction to the governor’s remarks has been predictable.

Democratic state controller and potential gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly opined that Governor Schwarzenegger was “condoning vigilantism,” while the militant Nativo Lopez, head of the Mexican American Political Association, called the governor’s comments “nothing short of racism.” Various conservative groups and commentators lined up in support of the governor’s position. Yet, the CTA and other education establishment groups have been noticeably silent, despite the huge cost that illegal immigration is imposing on the state’s education system.

Studies going back more than a decade have shown that it costs billions of dollars to educate the children of illegal immigrants. Eleven years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a study conducted by the Urban Institute that, based on the size of California’s illegal immigrant population in 1993, estimated that California’s annual education costs increased by nearly $1.3 billion due to illegal immigration. Of course, the illegal immigrant population has increased markedly since 1993.

Whereas the Urban Institute study estimated that 1.5 million illegal immigrants lived in California in 1993, current estimates of the illegal immigrant population in the state range from 2.4 to 3 million. It is estimated that there are presently approximately one million illegal immigrant children or American-born children of illegal immigrant parents in California’s public schools.

The 2004-05 spending figure, which includes only state General Fund and local property tax money, is $7,012 per pupil. That means illegal immigration wields an impact of some $7 billion on education costs in California. However, it should be noted that total education spending for 2004-05, including all federal, state and local education revenues, comes to $9,863 per pupil. Using the latter figure, the impact of illegal immigration rises to more than $9.8 billion. Although not comparable, this amount, coincidentally, is the same as the “cut” in education claimed by the CTA.

With the continued surge of illegal immigrants into California, simply securing and controlling the border would at least slow the increase in education costs resulting from illegal immigration. More dollars would then be available for the myriad of other education needs. So will the CTA and the rest of the public education establishment join the governor in his quest to control illegal immigration? They should, but they won’t. This tells Californians a lot about why it’s so hard to fix things in the state. CRO

copyright 2005 Pacific Research Institute



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