Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day of Action for California Public Schools? Seriously?

Apparently, there's going to be a Day of Action for California public schools tomorrow, March 4, 2010. Here's a response I wrote regarding this so-called "Day of Action" to someone who was protesting "public education cuts":

Correct me if I'm wrong, but California's Constitution still requires that public schools receive first crack at any state revenues, right?:

From all state revenues there shall first be set apart the moneys to be applied by the State for support of the public school system and public institutions of higher education.

So when you refer to "cuts," you mean that in the midst of a recession, tax revenue declined across the board, right? Not just for teachers, but for most government programs, right? (The less taxes/revenue a state receives, the less money it has to fund all government programs, including education.) That means in order to maintain education spending at the same levels as last year or the year before, some other government program has to be cut, right? So if you really think about it, anyone complaining about "cuts" to education is really asking people outside the public education sector to give public school teachers and public schools preferential treatment, even when the money to maintain other government programs and services doesn't exist.

Without spending cuts, including cuts to education, California has only two other options: raising prices (i.e., UC tuition increases); or forcing other people to pay more taxes (e.g., the higher sales tax, which disproportionately hurts the poor). Am I missing something here? I'm sure we all wish we could fund wonderful government programs, including education programs, but if the money isn't there, then what do we do? How much more can we expect individual taxpayers in California to pay so that teachers, schools, and teachers' unions benefit?

FYI: according to the California Budget Project, "In 2007, more than four-fifths (82.9 percent) of statewide spending for schools went to pay for the salaries and benefits of teachers and other staff."

Another example: let's assume like the state of California, I have no savings. If I make less money in 2009 than I did in 2008, and I want to maintain the same level of spending I had in 2008, what do I need to do? I have to borrow money, i.e., use my credit cards. A state, however, has no credit cards. If it wants money, it has to issue bonds, sell assets, or get loans to raise revenue. Unfortunately, California is in the hole $20 billion, and it can't sell $20 billion worth of assets. It needs to borrow money, which is another way of saying it needs to borrow against the future income of its residents, namely, the kids.

When educators say they want more money to help the kids or to invest in children, remember: they are actually saying they want to take money away from the next generation of kids to help themselves. When someone says, "Think of the children," you should say, "Darn right, we need to think of the children. That's why we need to cut spending, so we don't have to borrow money from our kids to fund government programs."
I'm just sayin'.

Counterpoint: California Spends Less on its Students.

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