Russell and Duenes

The Public Schools in California

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davidbahnsenIn The Irreversible Decline of California, David Bahnsen presents his analysis for why the state is heading over a cliff. Much has been written about California’s demise over the years, and Bahnsen gives no timetable for it, but one of the central actors he points to in describing California’s sorry condition is the “teacher’s union.” He argues persuasively that the California schools are on death row, and the teacher’s union is a huge part of the problem. But the larger problem, as I see it, is that California is just the most egregious example of what’s wrong with the public school system in this country in general. California schools simply illustrate the problem writ large. Bahnsen writes,

One has to wonder what is being “taught” as California has slipped in to 48th or 49th place in nearly all quantifiable categories in public education rankings, but even beyond that, one has to wonder what advocacy for teachers the unions have exactly been providing. I digress. As teachers were being laid off in droves over the last several years, California’s spending on their public schools increased to over 50% of the entire state budget, not even counting the massive federal subsidies given from Washington D.C. for this debacle of a school system. California spends over $50 billion per year on her statist school system, the results are among the worst in the country, and the recommended remedy? Spend more money. Always and forever. “More money for the schools”. The unstoppable masses of people fleeing the state schools for private schools, parochial schools, charter schools, and even home-schooling would suggest that the consumer is voting with their feet. However, citizens still have to vote at the ballot box too, and the teacher’s unions are well aware of that. Consider these numbers, and then the meat will fall off the bone in my making of the case the California is unsalvageable: All told, California public employee unions spend $250 million per year on politics, with the benevolent teacher’s unions representing over $200 million of that. The unions exist to sustain their own existence, and Californians are paying the tab.

Doubtless, California schools, particularly in the Bay Area and Los Angeles area, are among the most secular and the most liberal in the country. They are the proof as to where government sponsored schools, which officially teach secular agnosticism, ultimately lead. They are public schools taken to their logical end point. More money, more statism, less education, more failure. Unfortunately, the “unstoppable masses” whom Bahnsen claims are leaving the government schools in droves are not quite enough. The cry is all too often heard, doubtless from many Christians, that if we abandon the public schools, “What will happen to all the poor people who cannot afford private schools? Won’t their education be even worse than it is now?” Rather than advocating an alternative in this post – and many alternatives there are – I would simply ask this: How much worse do you imagine it can get than Los Angeles Unified School District? How bad does it have to be before we say, “Enough!” Do you think that a totally different system than we have now would put the poorest children, living in, say, Boyle Heights or Watts or Compton or Pacoima, in a worse educational environment than they are now? What is the good of preserving a public education system, as currently constituted, which does not truly educate? And which drains billions of dollars to pay for unions, bureaucracy, and bloated administrative schemes?

Might it not be past time to stop tinkering around the edges of our current system and to head back to the drawing board?


Written by Michael Duenes

November 30, 2012 at 5:29 am

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