By Bill Dunlap
7:53 PM PDT, October 17, 2012
Re. "Apodaca: Public education hangs in the balance this election season," (Oct. 7): Ms. Patrice Apodaca's column incorrectly points out that the state ranks 47th in per-student spending. It's actually 35th. Since 1992 per-child spending on public education has increased by 35% adjusted for inflation. In California we spend 52% of the entire state budget on public education. The state's teachers are the third highest paid in the country at $69,343. Is it really more money that we need to throw into education or do we need to change the education process? California elementary schools rank 46th nationally, yet our teachers are in the top 6% in pay!
It's all about accountability, competition and proper management. James C. Dobson's book "Dare to Discipline," which we read as intern teachers, needs to be practiced. For too long the teachers union, not the teachers, have pushed the need for more money to the point where the state is so far in debt that we may never make it back. How is it that the unions strong-armed the Legislature to increase salaries and benefits to such a high level that the actuary has an unsustainable return defying logic and gravity? A private 401k plan is vulnerable to the whims of the ever-moving marketplace. Why do we guarantee teachers a set return on their pensions for the rest of their lives that we have to pay for?
There needs to be accountability and evaluation of teacher performance. In private business we do it routinely, why not in public education? Just look at the mess that took place in Chicago. Until they finally settled on a pay raise at less than the 16% they wanted, the biggest issue at the negotiating table was teacher evaluations. And then there is overhead and waste. In Los Angeles Unified School District, there is nearly one teacher for every staff person. Try that in private business and see how long your doors stay open!
Proposition 30 is Gov. Jerry Brown's threat of "give me $30 billion or the schools will shut down." There is no guarantee that the money will go to the schools. Proposition 30 will tax those earning more than $250,000. Brown fails to understand that the majority of small businesses file as sub-chapter S corporations, which will mean lower wages, higher prices and fewer jobs.
Proposition 38 is just as bad if not worse. This proposition will tax anyone making more than $7,316 in its attempt to raise $120 billion over 10 years. Big gobs of money are dropped into the public school system on the backs of those who are just trying to get by. Sometimes it's a better plan to pull the car off the road and rework the engine instead of just adding oil and sawdust!
The future of California public schools should be in the hands of the local school boards, not the Legislature. School boards need to be empowered to rein in the unions, cut overhead and grade teachers. Why not — we grade our students! No on Propositions 30 and 38.
BILL DUNLAP is a member of the Orange County Republican Party's 70th District Central Committee.