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California Teachers Association march. (Photo: Ken Wolter, Shutterstock)

Unionized Public Education is Destroying California

The Worst, Most Destructive Union in California: the CTA

By Edward Ring, March 8, 2023 2:45 am

Behind any popular mass movement there are often good ideas and noble objectives. Public sector unions—including teachers’ unions—are no exception.

Organized labor, ideally, offers collective power to ordinary workers and provides a counterweight whenever business interests become exploitative. How to regulate that balance is a topic that deserves vigorous and ongoing debate, but most of the benefits American workers take for granted—certainly including overtime pay, sick leave, and safe working conditions—were negotiated by private sector unions.

Public sector unions are a different story entirely. Unlike their private sector counterparts, public sector unions elect their own bosses, and the government agencies they work for collect taxes instead of competing to earn a profit. Public sector unions run the machinery of government, which makes it easy for the more zealous union members to use their bureaucratic authority to intimidate any citizen or business that opposes their agenda or their chosen candidates.

There’s more. Because the agenda of unions, naturally enough, is to increase their membership and the pay and benefits of their members, there is a constant danger of that agenda conflicting with the public interest. If a government program fails to serve the public interest, it is tempting for the government union leadership to claim that failure can only be addressed by spending more money and hiring more unionized government employees. For them, therefore, all too often failure is success. But the taxpayers lose.

The Worst, Most Destructive Union in California

If public sector unions are inherently more problematic than private sector unions, the worst among these government unions are the teachers’ unions. In California, the unions representing public school teachers and college faculty have acquired extraordinary political power. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few decades to elect candidates that will do their bidding, lobby politicians once they are in office, and reelect those candidates that support their agenda. And in almost everything these teachers’ unions have touched, the consequences of their power has been destructive.

The teachers’ union in California supported a ballot initiative that guarantees at least 38 percent of the state general fund is spent on K-14 public education. This guarantees that any new government program – such as last year’s single payer healthcare proposal that would have added hundreds of billions to the state budget – will pour more money into public education. This creates an incentive for California’s teachers’ unions to push for huge increases to the size of the state government, because they’ll get 38 percent of the pie no matter how big it gets.

Because California’s public schools receive state funds based on attendance, the teachers’ union is also incentivized to support anything that will increase the student age population. Hence they have an incentive to support anything that will facilitate mass immigration, whether or not that puts a strain on housing and other services. If those students are from low-income households or don’t speak English as their first language, the per student allocations are increased.

If students from low-income immigrant communities in California were getting a great education in the public schools, they would follow in the footsteps of immigrant groups throughout America’s history and become productive citizens. But they’re not. Everything the teachers’ unions have supported have harmed public education in California.

Instead of prioritizing fundamental skills in math, reading and writing, students are educated against a backdrop narrative that America is a racist, sexist nation. White males are made to feel guilty and everyone else is encouraged to feel oppressed. In both cases, resentment and hopelessness are the result. At the same time, students are fed additional narratives of despair: the climate catastrophe will soon end all life on earth, and right-wing fascists are about to take away our freedoms.

If that weren’t bad enough, impressionable young students are now subjected to radical sexual indoctrination. To cite just one example of this, new recommended readings, even for students in primary grades, are so laden with filth that when outraged parents attempt to read passages verbatim to school board supervisors in public meetings, the material is so obscene they’re told to stop reading.

Government unions are also the reason college tuition has left graduates with trillions in crippling debt. Non faculty positions in California’s public colleges and universities has more than tripled in just the past twenty years. These administrators are usually paid more than faculty, and occupy positions that wouldn’t be necessary if colleges admitted students based on SAT scores instead of race and gender.

But whatever might require accountability, the teachers’ unions seem to oppose. Colleges are now getting rid of the SAT test. Thanks to “restorative justice” policies, misbehaving students that would have been expelled in previous decades are now considered victims. As demonstrated in the defeat of the Vergara case back in 2016, brought by California students fed up with failing schools, it remains nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers, and teachers are granted “tenure” after less than two years of classroom observation.

The teachers’ union in California, not in its words, but in its actions, has declared war on competence. Our society is paying a price for this and the consequences will only get worse as another generation grows to adulthood without the skills necessary to succeed in 21st century America. But the teachers’ union will still have the same answer: give us more money, and blame the oppressive system.

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9 thoughts on “Unionized Public Education is Destroying California

  1. If you read about the history of tenure it’s original intent was to provide academic freedom to college and university professors, not to provide a safe haven for incompetent K-12 teachers.

  2. Even AFTER and IN SPITE of all the (immeasurable) damage done to the state by the CTA, if they were to somehow fall off the face of the earth tomorrow Californians would quickly see a big improvement and feel like a thousand-ton burden had been lifted from their shoulders.
    Public employee unions of any kind should not exist in the first place and quickly become ruinous to a city, county, or state for the simple reason that there is no one at the bargaining table who is motivated to oppose their constant demands. They grease up with campaign donations the very people who would/should be opposing them: Local governing bodies such as city council, boards of supervisors, and local unified school boards.

  3. Unionized government employees, who have usurped superior powers over elected officials, are responsive to no one other than external and unelected third party union organizations and are de facto unconstitutional.

    Government employee unions have no valid place within out system of constitutional, three-part, checks and balances form of governance. Government employee unions were granted these extra-constitutional powers in 1962 under a JFK Executive order.

    Founders never contemplated this independent mass of 20 million government employees at every level today, operating well outside our constitutional structure of government.

    Measure the general decline in this country and alienation of the people and its own government from that point forward, post 1962. The collective passivity and endemic Stockholm Syndrome we witness today, in deference to “the state” is proof enough unelected government employee unions have fatally corroded our Republic.

    Make the vast bulk of government employment part-time and at-will only. Hire for specific tasks only, No more massive lifetime tenures, offering no accountability for acts committed in the name of US taxpayers. Malfeasance and even misfeasance should never be rewarded with taxpayer funded lifetime pensions.

    We lost our way. Today’s alienation of the government from those forced to fund this government is bitter fruit.

  4. California’s public schools are beyond repair for the most part and parent’s would do best for their kids by sending them to private schools or home schooling them if at all possible?

  5. Former elected School Board Trustee here. Yes, the schools have lost their way. The Boards and school Admin kowtow to the Teacher’s Unions. It’s sick. They are corrupting entire generations of our youth. My District was pretty conservative, in California. I’m now NO LONGER in support of public schools in any way, shape, or form. There is also the issue of being FORCED to pay insanely high property taxes to support Districts in my area, and in OTHER COUNTIES because we share a two-year College system. Ditch public schools and the US Dept of Ed! Failed system. And they should not be allowed to destroy the minds of our youth. We need PRODUCTIVE CITIZENS not wokist-warriors as our young adults. And “restorative justice” is the worst. It penalizes the real victims of crime, in favor of the perps committing crimes.

  6. Public schools are child abuse – period.

    I went to school in the 60’s and 70’s and although school was not particularly abusive back then it was by and large a waste of time as they taught to the absolutely lowest level they could get away with. It if had not been for 3 or 4 good teachers I am not sure I would have learned anything at all.

  7. The unions negotiate their pay and benefits with elected officials that they put in office with union dues. If the elected official doesn’t give them what they want, they aren’t getting reelected. In October, Newsom signed into law forcing taxpayers to pay union member dues.

    Does it get any more corrupt that this?

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