The money is gone

My niece is getting “enriched” at her southern California school for the third day: Her Capistrano Unified teachers are on strike.

More than 2,000 teachers began striking on Thursday to protest a 10% pay cut that was imposed by the district to help close a $34-million budget shortfall.

Education funding isn’t going to rebound, writes Mike Petrilli, who’s taking flak for TV interviews in which he said, “The money is gone and it’s not coming back anytime soon.”

With a deep recession and a burst housing bubble (and thus deflated property values, and property tax revenue), the outlook for 2011-12 is even worse than for 2010. Districts are facing real spending cuts for the first time in decades. And once we get past the current challenges, our schools will be facing stiff competition for public funds from the retirement expenses of the baby boomers. The era of big spending in education is over.

Adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending doubled from 1989 to 2005, Petrilli writes. Correction: Per-pupil spending doubled in current dollars, not real dollars. Inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending increased 31 percent over that period of time.

Freezing wages or laying off junior teachers or delaying repairs or monkeying around with accounting isn’t going to cut it. This is a time for a fundamental rethink. How many teachers do we need? What kinds? How can we best structure their compensation? How can we use technology to deliver education more efficiently? Should we be spending so much on special education? And on and on and on.

At a Des Moines, Iowa middle school, a retiring English teacher, Theresa Hoffman,  organized a protest of school funding cuts. Unfortunately, she didn’t proofread the signs.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Nobody likes a pay cut. Teachers in CA will be able to point to others–many of them public employees–who aren’t getting a pay cut and claim it’s “unfair”.
    Yeah, it is. Your point?
    Somehow, the public, the politicians, and the public employees in CA–more than in most states–figured the money would never run out. Whose idea was that?
    Planted axioms in American Government classes? Passionate denunciations of the greedy rich by–practically everybody–leading to the unconscious assumption that money is unlimited?
    And, believing or pretending to believe the money would never run out, they acted on that belief.
    And the money ran out.
    It isn’t the fault of, say, a thirty-year-old teacher. It’s the fault of her parents’ generation. But nobody can admit that.
    They screwed up bigtime. But, for a while, a lot of people had it pretty good. They aren’t the ones paying the price. Or not yet, anyway.
    You’d think teachers would be thinking about a teachable moment.
    For example, if a government teacher put a sign on the wall behind his desk, “The only money the government has is the money it takes from you,”, that teacher shouldn’t be punished. Nah. Never happen.

  2. They have two choices now: they can attempt to raise taxes to fund the spending, although it appears they’ve gone to the well a few to many times in CA; or they can cut spending. Both alternatives are painful. One leads to an eddying, spiraling economic Greek like catastrophe; the other to diminished wages, benefits, and influence of state workers. This is another sit back and watch them sweat occasion. For the politicians and union bosses who’ve purchased their positions on the backs of working and middle class private sector workers and small businesses, – good luck. You’re dead ducks.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    No, they aren’t. As long as the police will protect them, so will their cronies. They’ll have their money, their zoning exceptions, their in with the Kelo-heavy takings operations.
    The only thing the rest of us can do is fantasize. Say, like being in a restaurant and one of these clowns come in. We stand up and say, “They’ll let anybody here. I’m never coming back.”
    Not much, but that’s all we have.

  4. As long as California imports illiterate peasant labor and the productive move out in disgust, it will only get worse.

  5. I’d love to think that California is paving the way for the end of the Big Education era. Unfortunately, I think it’s more like a monster movie, where the apparently-dead beast always rises up for one more go at the plucky hero.

    Ever read Stanislaw Lem’s short story about the Steelypips?

  6. Richard,

    Well, we can always move to Texas. I live in NJ; it’s almost as bad. I’m holding out because Gov. Christy is THE MAN.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Stacy, Things had to be pretty bad in NJ to get a republican elected.
    It’s awfully easy to get folks to vote themselves other people’s money, and the more of them there are–welfare, public employees, etc–the more votes for it. To overcome that meant things were so bad that even some of the recipients of other people’s money voted for him.
    Yeah, I have a sister and a daughter in Texas. Were it not for the climate, I’d be thinking about it.

  8. Here’s the “fundamental rethink” we need: dare to consider raising the taxes on the rich and corporations. Will Chevron shrivel up and die if we shave off $1 billion of its profits?

  9. The money is not gone. It’s in the bank accounts of the top 1%.

  10. Fire them–every single one. Immediately.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ben F.
    Aside from giving you the satisfaction, such taxation is mostly useless.
    If you–not to give you any daydreaming material–were to take all the rich and their families out and shoot them, confiscating everything they had, there’s still not enough. Ditto with bankrupting the evil corporations. And when you do either or both, you only get to do it once. After that, they’re gone.
    Divide Chevron’s billion by the number of kids in school. Might by a couple of lunches, certainly not much of a textbook.
    Add in the other goal, to ruin the big corporation–see Van Jones wanting to destroy capitalism by the use of Green Jobs–and what do you do next year?
    Well, lefties always find somebody to blame, so I don’t suppose it will be much of a problem.

  12. Ben said….”Here’s the “fundamental rethink” we need: dare to consider raising the taxes on the rich and corporations. Will Chevron shrivel up and die if we shave off $1 billion of its profits?”

    What Chevron, and every other profitable corporation will do is incorporate in another country and take it’s entire taxable income out of the USA.


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