Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why the CTA's ballot measure will fail


That teacher in the picture probably wishes for more funding for her classroom.  Funny, so do I.  Thing is, the new ballot measure proposal from the California Teacher's Association will not make her dream come true.  In fact, it will probably drive more resentment towards teachers in a state that has a massive budget problem.

It's simple economics; when in a recession a government should find a way to do two things.  First is to seriously audit its own spending.  Notice I didn't say "cut spending", I said that the government needs to go in and find a way to make things run more efficiently.  Second, the government needs to find a way to decrease taxes.  Nothing drives a crisis of confidence further into the gutter than telling people that the government is going to make you pay more for things that yesterday cost less. 

As is status quo for the CTA, they are proposing something that contradicts rationality; a measure that will increase the state sales tax by a penny, with all of the revenue going into Education.  Terrific.  First of all, everything that I buy is going to go up while I'm not going to see a penny of funding for the classroom.  Seriously, I have strong doubts that any raise in funding will come down the path to the men and women who are doing the serious grunt work.  Instead, it is going to discourage me from buying supplies for my classroom, the number one source of materials for teaching my kids.  My wife and I did our taxes today and found that we spent over $7000 on school related supplies this year, not counting the gas driving to and from workshops.  Think that I want to pay more while my income hardly inches up at all?  With the $4,500 I paid in union dues these last five years, I've seen a total of a 1% raise in the same time span.  My wife is worse.  For a happy $4,500 in five years of union wages, her school district's average wages have actually dropped 4.5%.  Not exactly a great return on a union investment.

Then comes the question of half of California's budget going towards Education, and the inability for teachers to get what they need to teach.  If the state was serious about Education (and according to the funding, it should be) then teachers would have access to the best tools of the trade to prepare kids for life "out there".  Instead, many teachers hardly have access to up-to-date textbooks, copier paper, or even a clean place to work.  Something is wrong when tens of billions leaves the Governators desk and hardly anything reaches the desk of the students.  Audit, Audit, Audit.........and I mean at every level.  What are teachers doing to reduce costs and save money?  What are schools doing?  What are districts doing?  What are county offices doing?  What are the state bureaucracies doing?  Something is not working right and someone needs to figure out how to appropriately fund Education. 

So while you'll be hearing about "Teachers that are looking for more funding for Education", understand that I'm looking for that funding from the monies that are already there, and I'll be voting "No" on that idiotic CTA tax hike.             

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