For those of you who by now believe I was a covert and now am an overt supporter of the Board of Trustees, please take a deep breath and a few sips of your favorite red or white wine and chill! I have kids that attend CUSD schools, and I have the utmost respect, admiration, and gratitude for the gifted and dedicated educators in the system, and I applaud their efforts and those of the supporting administration staff as well. Carlsbad Unified truly is a world class educational system, and is one of the main reasons people choose to live within the confines of the City of Carlsbad’s borders.
Accolades aside, like every school district and municipality in the state of California, CUSD is once again in the cross-hairs of a budget gun that will require shared sacrifice from the Board and the teachers unions in order to avoid the least number of casualties. And sorry to report in advance, but there will be casualties in the context of lay-offs and program cuts due to the perpetual financial shenanigans in Sacramento and our so-called “leaders” refusal to properly remedy a budget process that has been and remains fatally flawed. Unless a reformist Democrat or Republican gubernatorial candidate in the mold of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is elected to office, California will indefinitely retain its well-earned national reputation as “The Granola State; composed of fruits, flakes, and nuts.”
I attended the CUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, Feb. 24. A just prior to it were reported on Carlsbad Patch. Everyone is united against teacher lay-offs, including the Board of Trustees, but with a stated 2012-13 budget gap of over $6 million, there is no recourse but to trim labor. Opine all you want about alternatives, such as shuttering or reducing compensation and benefits of CUSD administration. Both actions could be enacted, and the budget shortfall would still require teaching positions being eliminated; the gap is simply too wide to bridge.
My frustration with teachers and their unions is the fact that I have yet to hear or see any counter-proposal to what the Board has aired to date. It’s as though the teachers believe CUSD is guarding some huge cache of cash for itself and the Board is getting its jollies by holding teachers hostage! If the teachers unions have options that don’t include lay-offs, let’s hear them! Or, like most public employee unions, is their preference to vilify the Board of Trustees in this case, and attempt to tug yet again at the heart-strings of parents in the hope of gaining support for a new round of taxes “for the sake of the kids?” What other conclusions can be drawn? I honestly don’t care how much money teachers or anyone else earns, but if there isn’t enough revenue to go around, expenses must fall in line. I sympathize that teachers too often have to pay for their own supplies and have other out-of-pocket expenses, including union dues. I’ve asked a number of teachers if they know how the California Teachers Association spends the dues they collect from the teachers unions they represent. The most common response was, “for administrative and collective bargaining expenses.” Really? Well, think again!
A report compiled by The California Fair Political Practices Commission in February, 2010 entitled “Big Money Talks” outlines and illustrates the top fifteen special interest groups, public and private, that collectively spent over $1 billion from 2000-2010 to help shape California government.
It’s a 67-page report, but just read through the first twelve pages. It’s easy reading, with font size mirroring that of any children’s book. Guess what organization is at the top of the list in political spending? None other than the California Teachers Association, which spent a whopping $211,849,298!! How’s them apples, Miss CUSD teacher? Of this amount, over $38.5 million was paid to lobbyists. Another $144 million was spent to successfully defeat several education reform ballot measures such as the following:
Proposition 38, to enact a school voucher system; not on our watch!
Proposition 74, which sought to make changes in the probationary period for teachers; uh-uh!
Proposition 75, to prohibit the use of public employee union dues for political contributions without individual employees’ prior consent; no dice!
Oh, and $6.5 million alone went to the California Democratic Party, which in turn has given us the three-headed Tax-a-saurus monster of Jerry Brown, Darrell Steinberg, and John Perez. Lovely!
Need I go on? I wonder how many teachers can look upon this report and honestly state that they support their dues being spent on such initiatives without their approval? Better yet, how many teachers are even aware that their dues are being expended in such fashion? Finally and most concerning, how many even care and would bother to take action against their union for such spending practices?
Sorry, but this is one glaring example of why public employee unions are taking such a huge hit in the court of public opinion. That’s not to exonerate private businesses for the same influence-spending tactics, but the California Teacher’s Association outspends every other public and private political donor organization in an effort to retain its preferred stagnant, err, status quo, and in turn continues to court sympathy, support, and more money from the very hands that feed them. At some point, “that dog, (in this case, tax-payers) won’t hunt.”