Disputes CCUSD Salaries are the Problem

Dear Editor:

To judge from Mr. George Laase’s August 22nd commentary, “CCUSD Salaries Skyrocket,” he has three worrisome concerns.

First: He worries that the District spends too much on the salaries of its employees.

But this seems not to be so worrisome: The 2019-’20 Proposed Budget of the CCUSD projects spending 85% of restricted and unrestricted funds for salaries and benefits for certificated teaching faculty and classified non-teaching staff. For unrestricted funds only, the total for these personnel expenses will be 74%. As Mr. Laase notes, “most school districts nation-wide spend about 80% of their revenue” on these expenses. So Mr. Laase need not worry, as the CCUSD is exactly on national target for this most important expense.

Second, he worries as a parent that the funds spent for salaries and benefits might not “lead to a better job…a better life….” Again, not to worry. In consulting the same website, Ed Data, cited by Mr. Laase, we learn the following about our excellent schools: Our graduation rates are in the high 90%, tops in both county and state, which hover around 80%. In terms of literacy skills, 87% exceeded, met, or nearly met the set goals. In terms of Math skills, the figure is 79%. Both marks are superior relative to the corresponding county and state totals.

Third: he implicitly claims that salaries need not be set at a level to induce excellence, by claiming “there is no direct correlation between what teachers earn and what our children learn.” Much research refutes this claim. In 2011 a research team at the London School of Economics set out to research and address this issue in a worldwide study. In examining and analyzing data from 26 countries, including the US, they concluded that a 10% increase in teachers’ pay would produce a 5-10% increase in student performance. This global result confirms what we know by instinct and common sense: Because children do not reliably teach themselves, teachers and staff are the beating heart of any school. Higher pay stimulates competition and raises the status of the profession, thereby continuing to attract high quality, skilled teachers to the District.

Mr. Laase asks: “Is it possible to do something for our children’s education without it costing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars more in employees’ salaries and benefits?” I’m certain the answer to this is “yes,” and I turn to the District’s slogan, which is also an invitation: “Success for all…takes all.”


Bruce Lebedoff Anders

Culver City


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