The political clout from one state teacher’s union is stunning.
from Bahnsen, David L.. Crisis of Responsibility: Our Cultural Addiction to Blame and How You Can Cure It (pp. 93-95). Post Hill Press. Kindle Edition.
Here is what we do know, courtesy of the nonpartisan Alexander Hamilton Institute.31 The United States spends over $12,000 per pupil on K-12 public school education. That amount is comparable to the cost of attending many elite private schools. That amount is 30 percent higher than the average cost of primary and secondary education worldwide. And yet, American public school students rank twenty-eighth worldwide in science, thirty-sixth in mathematics, and twenty-fourth in reading. Eighteen countries around the globe outrank American students in all three categories.
California pays 126.3 percent of the average national teacher’s salary, the third highest percentage in the country (behind New York and Massachusetts).32 Yet California ranks #42 out of the fifty states in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best States for Education, K-12,” a ranking based on a composite of test scores and graduation rates. Another prominent study ranks California #40 overall, but #47 in reading and #51 in the pupil-teacher ratio.33 Is California’s education challenge one of funding and financial resources? California spent $76.6 billion on K-12 education in 2015, including federal funds. More than $45 billion from the state general fund (representing more than 40 percent of the state’s budget resources) gets spent on K-12 education, with another $15 billion tossed in from local property taxes.34 Clearly money isn’t the problem.
Considering the clout and power of the state’s public education union, no one should be surprised at the massive financial resources poured into public education. The California Teachers Association (CTA) boasts a stunning 325,000 members. Their political clout is no small matter, since this one union from one state has “spent more in political campaigning over the last decade than the pharmaceutical industry, oil industry, and tobacco industry—combined.”35