According to California Fair Political Practices Commission, the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) spent $211.8 million lobbying the state government in the last decade. They contributed to defeating state initiatives that contradicted their agenda and to state politicians in hopes of advancing their agenda. The CTA represents about 325,000 teachers in various school districts in California and in 2000 alone they spent $26 million to defeat a school voucher system.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s expressed ambition is to reform the California public education system, currently being hijacked and corrupted by the CTA. The policies in place at the CTA promote mediocrity and complacency. They also perpetuate the myth that California schools do poorly because of education budget cuts when the real reason is the mediocrity of the teachers. John Stossel of ABC News did an expose for the news program 20/20 called “Stupid in America”. It was about the inner workings of teacher’s unions across this country and proved that more money spent per student does not equal higher achievement. State governments now spend more money per student per capita than ever before and sadly graduation and achievement rates remained flat since 1971.
When the New York Teacher’s Union found out about John Stossel’s “Stupid in America” report, the union members gathered to protest. There have never been so many arm flailing, foot stomping and mouth foaming protesters outside of ABC Studios in the middle of New York City; it looked like a scene out of the French Revolution when the mob was calling for Marie Antoinette’s head. These people are educators of the next generation and they behave more boorishly than roughnecks in the oil fields, it’s no wonder that children are more poorly behaved today. Their teaching abilities aside, any parent should be concerned if any of those people are their child’s teacher.
The CTA make itself out to be an education advocacy organization when in fact they care more about their salaries, retirement pensions and benefits. The teacher’s unions all seem to be allergic to anything performance based and even more averse to performance based compensation. Almost every other profession in America is compensated based on performance, people are motivated by performance bonuses, which is why it always works. If a teacher is paid the same regardless if he or she is an excellent teacher or only an average teacher, why would the excellent teacher want to teach in the public school system where his or her efforts are not or cannot be acknowledged due to union rules. The burnout rate at the Los Angeles Unified School District is 5 to 7 years, which means a teacher gets fed up with the school system, the union, the bureaucracy in 5 to 7 years and they either move on from the teaching profession or they go teach at private schools where they have more control over their curriculum, how they want to conduct their classrooms and most importantly, reward and acknowledgement for their hard work. The public school systems are now left with mediocre teachers who do it because they have tenure, and barring committing an egregious offense—which does not include poor performance, they are ‘set’ until retirement.
In light of the budget cuts in California, which has caused many teachers and administrators to be laid off, the CTA directed its vitriol at big California corporations. They assert that because the state government wants to make California a more ‘business friendly’ state, large corporations get tax breaks for doing business in California, which ultimately cuts into state tax revenues, which cuts into the state education budget and affects the union’s bottom line. Now they are demanding that businesses pay their ‘fair share’ into the system and organized a rally on March 3 to express this agenda. To pay their fair share of what? So the CTA can continue to milk the system while they are failing California's children? The Wall Street Journal took the time to calculate the cost of firing an inept teacher that belongs to the CTA and this is what they found: “It’s not impossible to get rid of bad teachers, but it’s extremely hard and expensive. A report this month in LA Weekly noted that in the past decade the Los Angeles Unified School District "spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance.“ In the end, only 4 were fired, 2 others were paid large settlements to leave, and one was reinstated. So not only are teachers not punished for their poor performance, some are rewarded, and the CTA expects California's corporations to ‘share’ in this system that rewards bad behavior?
If any state wants to know why they are in the red instead of black? Look no further than the education budget and how much is going towards waste and the teacher’s union. Education is one area where states are most generous with their budget and the results are appalling. According to California Department of Education, 20.1% of students drop out of grades 9-12 in year 2007-08 alone and African-Americans and Latinos account for 60.2% of all students that drop out of grades 9-12. The CTA should lose sleep over that statistic instead of worrying about the education budget for the next fiscal year.
Apart from one’s parents, teachers are some of the most integral people in a person’s life. A good teacher can influence and inspire a person forever. Many people who become successful in life is sometimes due to the inspiration and encouragement of one single teacher, the one teacher that never gave up on them and encouraged them to do their best in a subject they did poorly in. A teacher’s potential influence on his or her pupils cannot be underestimated, which is why it is so important to be able to terminate a bad teacher at the first signs of trouble, not until after every appeal with the union and school board has been exhausted. This is not death row; there is no room for this kind of policy in school boards.