Noel Sheppard -
is an economic and geopolitical analyst and writer residing
in Northern California. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. [Sheppard
Dems trashing the budget plan in front of school kids...
[Noel Sheppard] 2/8/05
the midst of his first budget battle as California's new governor,
Arnold Schwarzenegger last July referred to Sacramento Democrats
as "girlie men" for
being too beholden to special interest groups. Just days
into this year's feud, it appears that the Governator's opponents
are still wearing skirts, and they're taking their act on the
a prophetic example of politicians embracing this new budget
negotiation as a golden
opportunity to advance a compelling discourse about pivotal issues
in our state, three Democratic party leaders began an almost
rock star-like multi-city tour to convince Californians that
their governor is a dirty rotten scoundrel. These dignitaries
included Treasurer Phil Angelides, Attorney General Bill Lockyer
-- both with eyes on the governor's mansion in 2006 -- and Superintendent
of Schools Jack O'Connell.
first gig was at Nimitz Elementary School in Sunnyvale. In
an extraordinary exchange, these gentlemen actually told youngsters
that the Kindergarten
Cop is a liar:
"To not tell the truth sends a bad message to the
students of the state," [said Mr. O'Connell.] Accusing
the governor of lying struck a chord with the third-graders
sitting on the floor in front of the podium.
"Why is the governor not keeping his promises?" asked
"You'll have to ask him," answered
touch, boys. I
guess you figured that it would be easier to pass off your faulty
statistics to third-graders after defaming their hero. For
instance, according to the San
Mr. O'Connell then announced:
governor has said this is a maintenance budget, but when
from the bottom (in a recent study of per pupil spending by
state), that's not good enough for me."
wonder where the superintendent got this number from, for according
to a 2002 U.S. Census study concerning public
education finances, California ranked 23 in per pupil spending. Now,
I'm no school superintendent, but when I was in third grade,
50 minus 23 didn't equal eight. Furthermore, as far as
the spending per pupil that comes directly from the state, California
ranked fourteenth in this survey.
else Mr. O'Connell conveniently neglected to tell these students is that
although California ranks 23 in what we pay our teachers per
pupil, we rank ninth in what we pay school administrators. As
such, if the superintendent was so concerned with better educating
these students that he was addressing, maybe he could more adroitly
manage the budget for non-instructional staffing of schools and
boards of education under his auspice, and shift some of these
funds to the folks that actually teach.
chose not to inform these kids about a recent National Education
Association report indicating
that California's K-12 teachers are the highest paid in the nation,
averaging $56,283 per year in 2003 -- fully $10,000 greater than
the national average, and $15,000 higher than the median. In
addition, Mr. O'Connell didn't tell these children that California
ranks seventh nationally in the pay increases given to these
teachers in the past ten years (40.6%).
maybe the most important thing that the superintendent omitted
elementary civics lesson is that although our teachers are the
highest paid in the nation, the average California wage earner
only ranks eleventh. That means that in all ten states
where the average citizen makes more money than in California,
they pay their teachers less than we do.
be more precise, our average wage earner in 2001 made $32,655. By contrast,
our average teacher that year made $54,348. This means
that the average teacher in 2001 made $21,693 more than the average
wage earner in our state -- 66.4% more. This is the largest
such margin of any state in the union, meaning that our teachers
as a function of the state's average wage make more money than
anywhere else in the entire nation.
since this information would have defeated the tour's purpose,
Mr. Angelides chose to instead make a passion play to these
for higher taxes:
"We've always been a society that has sacrificed
so our children can do better,'' Angelides said. ""The
governor has the courage to ask kids to do with less ... but
he doesn't have the courage to ask one millionaire to pay a
single dime more.''
Phil, why didn't
you tell these kids that the governor actually increased spending
on K-12 education by $1.4 billion? Or, that in order to
balance the budget, if he gave more than he did to education,
he would have to take money away from poor kids? How do
you think the children would have reacted to this information:
But [the governor]
noted that if he had kept his promise to fully fund education
this year, he would have been forced to kick some children
off the state-run Healthy Families program, which provides
health insurance to poor families. He noted that it was one
of the difficult decisions he had not necessarily anticipated
when he ran for office.
"You make a promise to education, and that would
take kids off health care," [the governor] said. "They
are tough decisions. They are truly painful."
only our Democratic party leaders were feeling this pain instead
of barreling down I-5 on their whirlwind "Lie
to Youngsters to Raise Their Parents' Taxes" Tour.
Sheppard is an economic and geopolitical analyst and writer
residing in Northern California. He
welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
2005 Noel Sheppard