Pensions Not the Problem with School Budgets
May 9, 2019
The difficulty of balancing the budgets of public school districts here in California, including the CCUSD’s is NOT teacher pension costs, as George Laase (April 25) would have you believe. The problem is the underfunding of public education in California. Period.
California’s funding for education is far below that of all but seven states and is the number one cause of strains on public school budgets. In 2012-’13, per student funding in California was $7,518. Since then, funding has increased only 9% to $8,694 per student. Unfortunately, this is not an increase in funding at all, as prices have also risen by a 9% inflation rate during this time period (CPI inflation calculator). In other words, the state has not increased education funding at all. As a result, students, teachers, staff, and administration are all negatively impacted.
This is literally, a shame, as California is the fifth largest economy in the world, just ahead of the United Kingdom. Surely our state can afford to get to the national average of $12,156 per student. These children are the future.
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week.” As the California Federation of Teachers reminds us, “This week teachers throughout the country will receive much-welcomed small gifts, notes, and words of appreciation. One hopes that they will ignore Mr. Laase’s suggestion that their modest pensions, for which they work a professional lifetime, are simply expendable.
I visited the site of Pivot Learning, the organization Mr. Laase cites in his article about the perceived dangers of teachers’ pension costs. Pivot Learning says that an important element of improving public education is genuine partnerships. “We must collaborate with educators to design agile solutions.” This good advice applies as well to would-be public education budget hawks.
Bruce Lebedoff Anders