The Myths About Education Funding
Versus the CTA...
[Tim Leslie] 7/28/05
After repeated attacks
by the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the “Education Coalition,” Governor
Schwarzenegger finally appears to be swinging into response
mode. And the facts
are on his side.
has not slowed the education union bosses from continuing to
bend the truth. Earlier in the month, individuals sent out
by the CTA and other union-affiliated groups plied the halls
state capital armed with anti-Arnold talking points.
Leslie represents California’s 4th Assembly District.
In my office,
we were able to meet with many of these representatives. The
offered a great opportunity to listen, and also
to dispel a few myths. We learned that many of these education
advocates knew little about the Governor’s education funding
or reform efforts. They had merely been provided a free flight
or chartered bus to Sacramento, and then given the union-created
rap sheet on how the Governor is out to hurt California schools.
We were surprised at how blatantly the union organizers had
misled them. And since the same misinformation they were given
is being fed to the general public, it is high time that we sort
out fact from fiction.
Myth: The Governor is cutting funding to schools.
Fact: Schools will
receive more money this year than ever before. Last year they
received $50 billion; this year the Governor has
proposed giving schools $53 billion. That means schools will
receive $0.44 of every dollar the state takes in. What the union
bosses are calling a “cut” simply means “less
than they’d hoped for.”
Myth: Teachers in California are underpaid.
Fact: Most California
teachers are tremendously devoted and hard working. They are
also the highest paid teachers in the
country. The average teacher’s salary is $56,283 and also
includes an excellent benefits and retirement packages. If adjusted
for the fact that this pay level is for nine months of work,
the average salary tops $75,000 per year. Teachers definitely
deserve a good salary and all the appreciation we can give, but
it is hard to argue they are underpaid.
Public schools’ greatest
need is more money.
Fact: Every state
agency would like a larger budget. Most of us would, too. But
we must always ask, “Are we using what
we have well?” The truth is we are not. Simply pouring
more money into a deeply flawed system will benefit bureaucrats
and union wages, but will do little for our students. Some states,
like Utah, have very modest school budgets yet deliver top results.
Meanwhile, some of the highest spending areas, like Washington,
D.C., produce dismal outcomes. Public schools’ greatest
need is for the union bosses need to stop strangling every effort
The Governor did not give schools as much as the unions had
hoped for because
he doesn’t care about kids.
Fact: Even the union
bosses don’t believe this lie. Governor
Schwarzenegger is doing the best he can to restore California
after the reckless spending sprees of Gray Davis and the Democratic
Legislature. Of the $5 billion in new tax receipts for this year,
the Governor’s January budget gave 60% to schools. With
the May revision of the budget, the Governor has proposed increasing
funding even further. It seems the only way one could qualify
with the unions as “caring about education” would
be to ignore all of California’s other needs, or else spend
the state into bankruptcy
Will these facts ever
break through the distortions that currently fill the public
square? I don’t know. The union bosses
have bet that Dr. William James, the Father of Modern Psychology,
was right: “No matter how absurd, if you repeat something
often enough people will believe it.”
I remain hopeful of better things. It sometimes takes a long
time, but ultimately truth prevails. CRO