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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    How to Save Your School District From the Coming Financial Crisis

    CALIFORNIA POLICY CENTER

    The teachers-union-backed California School Boards Association (CSBA) is warning school officials that a financial crisis is coming for the state’s hundreds of school districts. CSBA’s advice: Beg for a handout.

    “At a time when 25 cents of every dollar received by local schools goes toward pension obligations, districts and county offices of education need more pension relief so their limited resources can be directed to the classroom and student services,” CSBA advised its members in a statement from the association’s president Susan Markarian on Gov. Newsom’s recently-released 2023–24 Budget Proposal.

    But the high cost of these “pension obligations” — the damage they do to actual education — is self-inflicted. Here’s how that happens:

    California’s government unions finance the campaigns of political candidates who, once in office, return the favor by raising the pay and pension benefits of union-represented workers. This is the legal corruption at the center of California politics.

    But every time a California government agency promises richer retirement programs to its employees, it is digging a hole for future generations — what the CSBA calls a “pension obligation.”

    CSBA’s demand for “pension relief” is a demand for more money. Those demands will appear as local campaigns for tax hikes, bond debt, and, yes, bailouts. There will be claims that teachers are underpaid. That “the rich must pay their fair share.” That social justice requires higher taxes, soaring debt and bailouts.

    They’ll make this claim without addressing the absolute and documented failure of California’s union-run schools to educate our children — especially poor and minority children. This catastrophic decline began years before Covid; surrendering to teachers unions — who pushed for the state’s schools to remain closed long after other states returned to classrooms — accelerated the collapse in learning.

    Pouring money into this corrupt system is like giving your child a bottle of whiskey and the keys to your car.

    Here are two solutions to the financial crisis unfolding in California’s schools. Neither of them requires more public money:

    • Californians must oppose pay hikes for teachers until finances are stabilized. Voters can help by voting for candidates who will refuse campaign support from unions and who will act in the public interest. Failure to do this will raise taxes — boosting the cost of living for everyone, including the poor.
    • Bankruptcy might be a good choice for some of these failing districts. In federal bankruptcy court, district officials may find judges willing to let them out of collective bargaining agreements destroying their school finances.

    Finally, let your school district officials know that you want them to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund their membership in the California School Boards Association. Organizations that teach their members the wrong lessons are worse than a waste of the taxpayer’s support. They’re destroying our communities.

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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