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Troy Senik
The Worst Union in America « Back to Story

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WOW - the hatred toward teachers by some of the comments is sad. Those that feel teachers are bullies in the classroom saddens me. Those that have the need to hate teachers for all that is wrong with the world have never taught in our public school system, or have a family member working in this field.
I work with amazing compassionate people who do more for societies children than anyone else I know. I would prefer to take my union dues and spend it on my students. The CTA has been a disappointment to all of us. I would consider those who are at the helm just as criminal as our elected officials. Greed is the word that comes to mind ... and it is on the back of the tax payers and educators.
"Unions Are Run By Gangsters."

RWNJ hoax. Bircher madness. Repeated here with an illustration.
The author thinks $68k/year is an exorbitant amount to pay a teacher in California!!! Lets see you raise a family on $68K/year Troy while saving for retirement.
What a bunch of balderdash.
Thanks for divulging truth!
The new cartoon by the CTA is absoultely deplorable. This is the worst union in the country. It is not looking out for our children. The idea in this country is to do the best you can. If you live the American Dream you are deamonized. I hope everyone gets rich. This class warfare is crazy. I would not send my child to a public school if it was the last school on earth. They are nothing but a socialist group. Screw them!!!!!
Unions are always about how many members and how much dues can be collected. CA has horrible education and unions brag that they provide the best teachers. Clearly they do no such thing and the parents of CA youngsters need to kick out the Democrat fed unions who give tenure and life long jobs to horrible people with teaching degrees. It is sick and defeating. Unions are always about DUES and NEVER about the education of children!!!!
It sickens me that California voters are so easily misled. We must be the laughing stock of the free world when we complain about Arnold's handling of state finances when it was "We The People" who yelled out, "NO!"

He would have had implemented a system of checks and balances with a few simple props. Unfortunately, the unions won and he publicly said, "This is a very clear message..."

That message in 2006 and confirmed in this year's ballots, "Arnold, you needed to work with Democrats when creating this type of legislation. We really like the idea of redistribution of wealth.. especially when it's someone elses money."
Excellent article. Watch your back though I wouldn't put anything past the CTA.
Here's a link to median incomes in California.

Listen to the teacher's whine about 68,000 or 55,000 being "not enough."

Then look at Marin County - The top county for median income.

Wow! The median is 71,000. That is very close to 68,000. You are surrounded by the super rich, but you are only a teacher, go figure that you could "only" make median income in Marin County.

Maybe your spouse can work at McDonalds and bump you above median.

Meanwhile, you can see from the list that San Diego's median income is 47,000 or teachers would be ABOVE median there.

Again, with summers off. And good pensions. And gold-plated healthcare. (Maybe not for new teachers, but they can't get teaching jobs anyways. The student teacher at my daughter's school works at a bank now.)

p.s. stats are from 2000, sorry, too lazy to google for better stats. That might push some teachers down. In which case, counties should be able to top up teacher pay, but let's not claim this is a widespread problem. LA, San Diego, Sacramento are not as expensive as the bay area.

p.s. You know what I would support? Cutting administration headcount and salary levels back to levels when the state didn't rank like 45th, and the savings get passed onto teachers, but only if they agree to ripping up their tenure, not being unionized, and forfeiting some pension.
Funny how the teachers claim they cannot live for under 68,000...when the median income in California is far LOWER.

And if you cannot afford to live in SF - MOVE, that's what my sister had to do when she could no longer afford SF.

Or commute like tons of private sector people do.

No one owes you a living.
The money spent by the teachers' union is taken from teachers' pay (which is still much too low to attract talent for subjects like math and science in my opinion), and that number is huge because of the huge number of American kids who have access to free public k-12 education (namely all of them).

Class size is up to almost 40 in a lot of California k-12 schools right now, and teachers are still being fired. Meanwhile, teachers have to spend their own money on photocopies, toilet paper, paper towels, and other school supplies because our districts are so poor.

At the same time, the UC and Cal State systems, which were created to be almost free, have raised tuition above $13,000 a year, effectively shutting out poor and lower middle class families. The community college system has become so overburdened as a result that students can't get the classes they need to transfer to a 4 year in 2 years.

Yes, we need more school money. My California income taxes have been almost negligible the last three years (under $50) while teachers and students contribute hundreds (or thousands in college) to their 'public' educations each year, and desperate students and families are voting in November on raising sales tax (the tax that is most unfair to the poor) to get more money for education.

Quality education shouldn't be something only some people can afford, it should be for everyone. This difference between our systems and those of European countries', Japan's, etc. is why our students are having trouble finding work and our medical, math, engineering, and science jobs are being filled by students from other countries.

Educators agree on these things, and if our unions spend a portion of our paychecks to try to fix them, I'd say that's a good thing. People complain that teacher's unions have too much power but lately it seems like they have too little when it comes to some things.

Educators WANT education reform. We just have a different idea of what that should mean. We don't want to privatize education, we want all public schools to get better. We don't want state test scores to be too big of a consideration in our evaluations, because we feel putting to much emphasis on the tests is harmful to students and takes away from class time. We want teachers to get paid enough that the education profession can attract great math and science students. In short, we want more positive reinforcement, not negative. Educators deserve to have a voice in the policies of our own profession.
Great Article! I'm a history teacher in a public school in CA, teaching throughout the day, with no prep period, making $50,000, while supporting my family (and yes, it is still manageable to live in Southern CA, and support my family) I also work 2 other jobs to support my family (and yes I can still grade papers and create lesson plans).

I for one can tell you the CTA has completely damaged CA and its education system. The problem is denial. 90% of teachers would disagree with me because they are in denial of what CTA actually does for the state. This denial has made us one of the worst education systems in America. To add to my non-support of the union, they continue to take $80 a month out of the paycheck for non-union members. Non-union members can receive a rebate check from CTA but you only get 30% back. That's still $56 a month that could go towards my family or even my classroom. Ultimately, CTA has turned into a selfish organization for a profession that is supposed to selfless. On behalf of my colleagues that will never say this, I apologize for public education and its support from CTA!

We work 183 day out of the year, and I get just as busy as any other teacher, but there are 182 days in the year for a teacher to find a part time job to work if money is an issue. A true teacher would want to teach over 300 days a year with their current pay, or less, if they were truly selfless and not brainwashed to be selfish by the CTA.
The problem is that there is no one left in the state besides public employees and illegal immigrants. All the private sector has fled the state. I did last year and I loved California, born and raised. But I was not going to subject my last child to the public school system. I don't see how this ever changes as the Public Unions control Sacramento and will tax and spend the state into bankruptcy. Watch as Wisconsin and Ohio lead the way as an example for what reforms can do. Unfortunately it is too late for California I am afraid.
Ernesto, you didn't much read the piece did you? And no, they should be paid what they are worth. California ALONE is under $500 billion (BILLION with a B) in unfunded liability. Some kind of public "servants" ( It is a criminal scam between the bullying public-sector unions and politicians.
Just one more republican against the unions and middle class..If it was up to you I'm sure you'll be happy if teachers made no more than $20,000 per year.....
Teachers intimidate parents who know the teachers control the grades and their child's daily experience. Challenge the teacher and your kid suffers for it. Troy Senik's analysis is correct. Teachers have turned schools into detention facilities with threats of 'defiance of authority', Saturday School, lunch detention and other illegal discipline methods. Education is about jobs for union members not about quality education. Teachers use students as free labor, forcing them to work a minimum of 5 times as parking lot attendants, fundraising to fund the activities the teachers desire (parents better not protest). Teachers have turned into bullies in the classroom with their unions to protect them,no matter how much harm they inflict on a child.
Give-me me-me-me I-I -want-want
When organized labor becomes organized crime it's time to Just Say No
A fundamental question needs to be asked about the CTA which is what is the purpose of this union?

Industrial unions came about during an age when capitalism was absolutely ruthless. Child labor, no dissability, limitless work weeks, no work place safety laws etc. were all staples of the era. Collective bargaining and action was an absolute necessecity in order to protect the working man. Unionization and industrial action were needed in order to provide a safe and humane working environment.

To contend that the CTA or other modern public employee unions exist today to combat such working conditions is preposterous. The core objective of modern public employee unions is to reward their members at the expense of the taxpayer.

During the flush years it was easy to keep promising ever increasing benefits. Unfortunately, we are now at the point where the fleas are beginning to kill the dog.

Pro Bono Publico July 14, 2012 at 9:42 AM
In California, the inmates are truly running the asylum. The crushing tax burden and the shrinking tax base, coupled with the Democrat Party and its union affiliates and other special interests' insatiable appetite for public spending mean that it is only a matter of time until the state experiences a financial/economic meltdown. It's already happening, and Governor Brown and the Democrat-controlled legislature continue to fiddle while their state burns.
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This is a case study in why all public employees should be prohibited from having any labor unions.

The reason why is that the taxpayers are not represented when contracts are written. There is no such thing as government money, its taxpayers money. Taxpayers are the ones footing the bill, and yet have little to no say in spending. They should have all the say.
Let us summarize.

The teachers' union forces its members (i.e., every public school teacher) to pay dues. It then uses those dues to bargain on behalf of more money in schools. Some of that goes to teachers' salaries, but a lot goes to administrators (just look at the salary differences). In addition the union uses that money to support left-wing causes. It's so powerful that not even the Governor and legislature can tame it, so they continue the cycle---giving them more and more goodies. If anyone tries to oppose them, get ready for the !@#$storm coming your way.

Thanks largely to union efforts, teachers cannot be fired, work 2/3 of the year, have full benefits, and large pensions when they retire. With the economic downturn and the changing global marketplace, these are things that companies can no longer afford. Yet, those working for public education receive them!

But on top of all of this, as a whole, public schools and their employees do an AWFUL job! I went to public school for high school as an honors student (IB), and I remember having to take a Regular Biology class to graduate my senior year (some of us affectionately called it "bonehead" bio). We had to do a couple group projects, and I still remember being baffled by how intellectually retarded many of these kids were. Most of them struggled to read! I'm not joking! (The teacher herself was also a moron, in case you were wondering).
I grew up in California in the 80's and 90's. Schools were bad even back then--my public-school friends would tell how half of the girls in a graduating class were pregnant. But the state also made it very uncomfortable for families who chose the homeschooling alternative. Now, I realize that the CTA was probably behind some of that bullying, in order to force kids into their system. I thought this point in the article was especially cogent: California's future entrepreneurs won't likely be coming from the California public education system!
Troy Senik obviously did not do accurate research for his "story." He wrote a biased story which would not have earned him an A at any charter school that he is advocating for....

California school districts are required by law to submit balanced budgets. The budgets must match the $$ the state gives them. Due to reduced payments to school districts, thousands of teachers in CA received pink slips. Any person can read articles on line from CA to see that this information is accurate, unlike the info found in Troy's story.

I know several teachers who are unable to buy homes in the Bay area. The median price in our area is $500,000. A teacher who is making $68,000 does not qualify for this home. Insurance in CA is crazy and I am sure it eats up alot of income as well. CA gas prices are amongst the highest in the United States. And yes, teachers have to pay the local 10% sales tax too!

My neice and nephew attended an elementary school in New Jersey whose classes averaged 16 kids. Small class sizes allow more personal time with students. My local elementary school will have 30 kids k-2. Most kids do not attend pre-school and yet the kinder teachers will be expected to have these second language kids reading books, writing sentences and scoring as proficient on their NWEA tests.

Charter schools have 2 advantages over public schools. 1. Parental involvement. Parents are usually required to make sure their kids are on time, have few absences, complete thier homework and behave correctly in class. Don't you think the same level of parental involvement would benefit the public school system. (My local school had to stop school uniforms since too many parents opted out. It is illegal to require uniforms at a public school in CA)
2. Charter schools can choose their students. Although some charter schools do have at risk behavior students, most don't. Those children are left at the regular public school.There are a lot of special behavior students in public schools!

I am wondering how many days Troy has volunteered in CA public schools. Where did he observe lazy teachers.

I have volunteered in 3 different elementary schools. I observed hard working teachers who met with students during thier break ( recess), lunches, after school, ect. The teachers I observed worked 60+ hour weeks. During the summer they took classes, reviewed materials and prepped materials.

I think City Magazine must not review their material closely or require thier writers to submit their sources. I am wondering if the moderator will even post my comments.
Mike - I agree with some of your points.

But I think you do not address an important issue. The forced dues regime funds a huge political machine which significantly influences the Governor's office and the legislature on matters well beyond education. And they do it with taxpayer money. The untoward influence they have on the body politic greatly restricts the ability of the California government to operate efficiently; indeed the same kind of problems are encountered in New York. Put another way, the problems created by unions go well beyond the costs and burdens of collective bargaining, which, while considerable, are likely not the greatest source of costs and burdens, as the costs imposed by the political machine are much greater than any other.

Note your non-politically correct but nevertheless accurate comments about Hispanic achievement are indeed central to California's education woes. But there has been no greater cheerleader of unfettered illegal immigration than the politics represented by the teachers unions. That brand of politics has created an unsustainable financial situation, and has contributed to the circumstance where California, with 12% or so of the population, has a third of the nation's welfare recipients. New York City was on this road in the 80s, with one in 7 adults on some form of public assistance. It simply a recipe for disaster.

The problem with the unions is that the data and numbers will only get worse. And municipal bankruptcies will be all the more common. The unions are incapable of acting in the public interest. It will not be a pretty sight.

Holy crap just write a book already.
CTA nor the administration cares one hoot about the kids education. It's purely way to take tax money from citizens and create an adult jobs program. Period.
Thank you just an EXCELLENT article on why Private Sector Taxpayer must fight, at a MINIMUM, for the end to Collective Bargaining and automatic Paycheck collection of Union Dues, and if possible, for an end to any recognition of Public Sector Unions,

Public Sector Unions are a CANCER on Society.
To all the Union loving Marxist Liberals commenting on how wrong this article is or how your problem is not enough taxes: WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU AND WE WILL DESTROY YOU ONCE AND FOR ALL. It begins in November....
Great write up! Wish the larger papers reported as well as this. Kudos to the City Journal!
Quite an anti-left and anti-union rant. The writer shoots self in the foot by complaining about teachers getting higher pay and the union looking out (and helping pay) for a bunch of arguably good causes that get dismissed as Leftist.
Well, prop 13 changed the money and even Texas which does better in performance is way behind whiter states like Minnesota, North Dakota, and Vermont. Calif problem is too many hispanics more than the teacher's union if it was as white as it was in 1970 then it would not be as bad, granted its white population does do that great but believe me its stats would be better.
Excellent post, Mike.

Daniel Kahneman's book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow" explains why stories such as this are written. The three posts following yours proves Kahneman's hypothesis.
the teachers union has screwed the tax payers...without giving the kids a good education... they are all about the D party and politics and pensions..
school comes in last!!
Ms. Deb: we know. We tend to love most teachers, but we loved them more before unions.

E. Reilly: come now: education was fine in the US before teacher's unions. Better than fine. The Unions have only protected incompetence, penalized diligence, and ruined schools with endless "work rules" e.g.,:Culver City California trying to insist that parent volunteers pay union dues; demands for useless and widely derided "teaching credentials;" plus the insistence on immunity from any real accountability.

Give parents vouchers: they'll be gone from public schools so fast you won't need to worry about class sizes ever again.
Sorry but I do need to add something to my rant below (Mike).
If you want to doe something, go to and join and send a message to Mike. I promise, I will respond to you!
Please take the time to read this important article. It's a major reason our State is in such a financial mess! Please pass on.

Well written article. The author has a belief, and he proved it through partial facts, limited information and selective discussion, applying comparisons and "if" statements to his arguments. Example, few teachers are married to another teacher. Reason: you cannot not live in California on a teachers salary. The $68,000 figure? If you paid attention during your statistics and or basic math classes in high school, you would have learned how averaging compares to mode and median. Pick 100 elementary school teachers and average their salary, it will be closer to $55,000.
Do they only work 180 days a year? Yes they do! On the books. Off the books, well most work is weekends, several weeks during the summer, and their mandatory continue education without pay. Please remember teachers DO NOT get over-time pay.
And really, do you really want to associate the unionization of teachers with the poor performance achieved by students today? If so, take a look at the core statistics, which all of your conclusions are based upon. Remove the "Hispanic" population from the computations and California would be one of the top performing states, at one of the lowest per head of funding.
How about some facts for the author?
Ask any teacher, pick the best of the best, how the Hispanic culture values education versus a family from Asia. Not enough? Do a little more research than what was done for this article to understand the true nature of education in California. In a nutshell, Asians kick butt. Whites do well. Hispanics? Well guess what.
But I guess that in our P.C. world, you can't say those things, even if they are true. Or maybe the author does not understand the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning.
From my own personal experience, our public school teachers do an admiral job with the materials they are given to work with, including the student sitting in their classroom. And I do have more than the average parents experience and knowledge: raising two children who initially went to private schools and are now in public schools, and my wife is a elementary school teacher, in a public school. And as an aside, I went through the public school system myself, ending up with a B.S. in Finance and a J.D., with a certificate in federal taxation.
And we are both conservatives and registered Republicans.
Your vilification of teachers, due to the union activities is cheap at best, and off the true issue.
Without the unions, the average homeowner would be looking at his pocket book, and voting as such. How many people would agree to raise their property taxes to take care of their students? Who else fights this fight?
But are the teachers asking for more money? No, they are asking for help. With close to 38% of the population raised in a culture which does not respect or value education, do you really think the California school system will rank in the top?
As a news article, this is probably one of the worst articles I have ever read.
At least the average person on the street who does read this diatribe will be convinced the CTA is a demon.
Those of us who know and understand will delegate this writing to where it belongs, in a landfill. And we do understand the issue is not totally in the union's hands, but the large majority of parents and students who see school as free day care, and not a as an opportunity to be taken advantage of for their own personal betterment.
Nancy Melchiorre May 24, 2012 at 7:01 PM
My hope, my prayer, is that California is soon forced into 'Receivership' allowing the Courts to vacate ALL these exorbitant Union Contracts, that have destroyed this once beautiful State! It's the ONLY remaining resolution......
I'd be more sympathetic to the arguments against the CTA if it weren't for the fact that the real reason the Right is trying to destroy unions is to reduce or eliminate political contributions to Democrats, not because they care about the education system. The Right had the chance to get money out of politics with McCain-Feingold (thereby reducing any justification for Unions to spend all that money on politics), but they fought it and gutted it and convinced Justice Roberts to rule for Citizens United because the Right doesn't want money out of politics, just Democrat money out of politics, and that comes primarily from unions. That's ultimately what this article, and all other Union-bashing articles, is about...unilateral disarmament of one political party.
"All these articles about California going off the cliff are interesting, but the bottom line is that the rest of the country is already bailing them out. I heard not too long ago that every dollar that goes to the Feds from California, they get $1.75 back." - Nick May 23, 2012 at 8:56 AM

You heard? From whom?

Google "federal tax dollars paid received state" and the first hit will be from The Tax Foundation . org. Click that link and you'll stop telling people lies that you've heard.

California would be in great shape if they didn't support so many other states. States that are hyper-critical of, and politically opposed to, the "Left" coast.

The actual number you're looking for, but obviously not hearing, is $0.78. For every dollar in federal taxes California pays, they're only receiving $0.78 back. The state closest to your number of $1.75 back for every $1.00 paid is West Virginia at $1.76.

Alabama $1.66
North Dakota $1.68
Louisiana $1.78
Alaska $1.84

Other states in the same boat as California, thus paying for welfare states are:

Illinois $0.75
New York $0.79
Massachusetts $0.82

Yes, my friend, there is a trend. Why don't we have a real conversation about welfare and the massive transfer of wealth in this great country of ours?
If you believe 1/4 of this article, I've got some excellent property to sell you in Florida. This is as biased as an article can be, and I guarantee you that all of my students (publically educated in California) would be able to identify it as such. Yes, I am a teacher in California and I support the CTA, because it is the only organization that understands the complexity of teaching large, heterogeneous, and under-funded classes. No where does this article mention that California is at the very bottom of per-student spending in the U.S. - a direct result of Proposition 13, which has contributed to the the great economic divide we now see in the Golden State.
Great!!!!!!!!! The people in Ca. worked to get thierselves in this mess and I say it is pay back time. Finally getting what they ask for They love the unions out there so more power to them. They can look to Nancy P., Waters and a few others for help but truth be known they are busy looking out for thierselves. TFL
I am a former member of FTA, the Fresno Teacher Association, part of the greater CTA. I taught in Fresno Unified School District, one of the largest and poorest districts in the country, in the mid-2000s. The demographics are approx. 60% Hispanic, 30% black, 10% Asian (Hmong and Mien); overall academic performance was extremely low throughout the entire district, with terrible problems of poverty, broken families, gangs, drugs, etc. Teaching there was a very difficult job. This article reflects the reality seen by those in the trenches, but some clarification is in order. Please do not confuse California's TEACHERS with the teacher's UNION. The vast majority of teachers are sincere, hard-working professionals who join the union because they are required to in order to have a job; there are some lazy or incompetent teachers, but I saw very few during my teaching career. Some of my coteachers and I joked (sadly) that we wanted to found TAFTA (Teachers Against FTA) because we were so disgusted by the openly divisive politics and thuggery. It was a toss-up as to who we despised more: the union (whose leaders would happily throw its own dissenting members under the bus to achieve the desired NON-EDUCATION-RELATED political goals of the union) or the district administrators (who somehow got 6-figure salaries to tout "diversity programs" and "technology pushes" while ignoring the inconvenient truth that their students possessed plenty of diversity but couldn't read or do basic math). Never did the union or the administrators make education or students' well-being the focus of an agenda. For what it's worth, the administrators basically got their marching orders from the political string-pullers in Sacramento. The union managed to have plenty of money to throw at political issues, and teachers were not given the option to vote on how their dues were used. Many of us would have preferred to not have our money given to candidates or ideals that we didn't support, but voicing your own dissenting opinion was very much frowned upon. Bottom line: CTA has the most money and membership-related clout in California politics and so needs to be curbed (I say eliminated), but the REAL culprit in the failure of California's education is quite simply the injection of politics into the education system.
This was well written, and highly informative - I didn't think I could be anymore disgusted with the Teacher's Union...until now.
I am enraged re the CTA & its power to degrade the educational system whilst claiming "it's for the students".

This is clearly a pure power statement to strengthen the CTA. We have educational mobsters in control of the CA educational system. The politicians are wimps who have no sense of doing the "right thing" for the students & the taxpayer.

It is high time to eradicate the CTA by any legal means possible. The CTA is a cancer for the state of CA.
I don't know of ANY teachers that make it close to 30 years to get the prize pension. If you have ever tried to do the job you would understand.
The law says that teachers must teach a minimum of 180 days. In our school just north of Sacramento, the teachers only teach 165 days, of which every Wednesday is a half-day.

They lock the bathrooms and the fields at lunchtime because they are "understaffed" to supervise them.

Our daughter, a former honor student, started to have failing grades and we found that she wasn't actually being given much homework. (We had lived in another state where grade school homework was 4-5 times the amount given here in California).

This is supposedly the "best" junior-high in our city. We pulled our daughter out of it.

We have no sympathy whatsoever for teachers.

"I love how so many people become outraged when a group of individuals who have a common fiscal interest band together and spend a little money to promote their viewpoint and try to secure their financial futures..."

Yeah - "a little money." Given that you're presumably a member of the CTA yourself and you think the dollar figures mentioned amount to "a little money," I think it's a safe bet that you're one of those inept teachers with a protected job due to the union, and it would make sense, therefore, that you teach economics.
Great work! It's a concise, truthful and well-stated look at California's plight. We're rapidly becoming Greece thanks to greedy unions, narcissistic and corrupt politicians and inept bureaucrats.

Most most of all, we're failing due to the brainwashed, naive, spineless, overly soft-hearted voters who refuse to do anything. "Just leave me alone so I can text my friends about meaningless trivia and gossip and do the minimum amount of work in my 9-to-5 job."

Wake up!
so_cal_trojan_fan May 24, 2012 at 4:59 PM
@Go Irish:

To what type of union do you belong and in which state is this union located? If you aren't referring to a teachers union located in CA (hence the point of the article and my comment) then get out of here. My sister is a teacher here in CA and does not agree with the politics of the union or how her union dues are spent by the union bosses yet she CANNOT opt out of paying the dues without withdrawing from the union (read: quitting her job).

I thought this was a very well-written article which points out just how this great state is being driven into the ground like a tent stake by people who are only interested in themselves and couldn't care less about the welfare of those people whom they are paid to educate and influence for good. All we are left with are kids who feel that they are entitled to everything without doing anything to earn it (the second cartoon was spot on in my opinion). This whole system makes me sick.
Great article. I'm surprised the CTA's minions haven't already been dispatched here to try to defend against these charges like you see with that other destructive cult, Scientology, when someone posts a negative article about them. I'm guessing maybe these folks are too busy laying on top of one another (but not having sex) in shop classrooms, or flipping through those naughty magazines they keep in their desk drawers next to their stash.
@AkCoyote May 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM wrote:
"Hate to say it but by the turn of the next century, the US will be a socialist nation headed down the same road as Europe. '

We should be so lucky!
Your write: "he CTA—now the single most powerful special interest in California—" This is simply nonsense: the most powerful special interest in California is the Prison guards Union (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) See:

The California Teachers Association (CTA) doesn't even come close.

This from a Californian who disagrees with the CTA's position on temporary income tax increases.
Spot on article Troy.
Keep up the good work!
A concise and scary picture of the school unions and their ill-gotten power. Thank goodness the internet is making it much more difficult for such shenanigans to go on.

I wonder every day when Californians will collapse from the sheer number of taxes and regulations piled upon working individuals. Or when they'll be forced to wear masks and weights to compensate for their natural talents and seem just like everyone else, ala Kurt Vonnegut.
JOHN LONGENECKER May 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Hello. Good for teachers. Keep up the fight. I am on your side. I support your pay and working conditions. You really are blue collar workers. I support your union. JOHN LONGENECKER
I am not familiar with the California school systems so I won't question any of your analysis, but I would suggest that you look into the other group of union workers in the school districts, the service employee union. Janitors, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teacher's aides. Usually the non-certified employees have their own separate union apart from the teachers. And these are the ones who are more likely to sway a local school board election than are the teachers. It is not very common for a teacher to live in their own school district, but it is very common for the non-certified employees to be locals. Take for example the public school district in Taylor Michigan. The service employee union has more members than the teacher's union. The service employees have superior health care coverage. The Michigan government has imposed an array of cost cutting measures for school districts aimed specifically at the teachers, while leaving the janitors and bus drivers wages and benefits intact. And on the current contract for their union, a husband was the elected school board president and his wife represented the service employees in the negotiations. So you bring up good points about unions, but by specifically pointing the target at teachers while leaving the other unions in the school district out of the discussion, it leads me to believe its all part of the overall war on women from the conservative politicians. They take aim at the one public union out of the bunch that has a majority of female members, leaving all the others out of the spotlight.
I am absolutely fed up with the CTA!
They got what they wanted.
Full time pay for part time work!
My children attend school in CA and it is a disgrace.
It seems that every other week there is yet another holiday. One more reason to close the schools.
In San Marcos school districts the teachers close the school one hour early on Wednesdays so they can have a meeting to discuss how they can "teach better". When I went to school in the good old days, teachers had meetings like that AFTER school.
Last year the school was closed on Valentines Day!
And of course they took away bussing which in conveniences thousands of hard working parents.
The teachers!? More money and less days worked. To add insult to injury the CTA makes it impossible to fire an incompetent teacher.
Wow someones been snorting the Koch.
Huh, I was expecting this article to be about police unions, seeing as how they've spent the last several decades ardently defending their members' right to literally murder torture and steal from whoever they want without consequence. But nope, just another little Friedmanite twit whining about how education isn't privatized enough for his stupid tastes yet. MEH.
California also has the worst tax code in the country, and a huge burden of debt as a result. The CTA is likely a creature of circumstance. This "blame the unions" article is typical of the "think tanks" of the Right. This is one special interest group attacking another, no more, no less.
Excellent article. This is also why Brown got elected over Whitman, who was a big threat to useless unions.
Congratulations to Troy Senik for a well written, well researched article. And my condolences to those who have to live with the schools in California, including the many excellent and dedicated teachers who are forced to toe the party line and work alongside incompetent dullards.

I didn't need to read Troy's essay to know how bad it is; I have many friends and associates who have given me insider stories that are shocking. Utterly incompetent teachers and administrators, indifferent or belligerent parents (and yes, parents play a role in all of this), and a Mafia-like union that uses nefarious techniques to get its way.

Arnold was unable to reform the system; the public unions spent over $100 million fighting his 2005 propositions.

Let's hope that as Californians flee the state in search of affordable housing and sane governments, they don't bring the California disease with them and start voting for limitless taxation and public benefits.
Awesome article!!! Finally, someone has the courage to tell it like it really is, like we have know it has been for a long time.
Where is Warren Buffet with his want of paying more taxes? He could solve California's budget woes with a single check.

@Oddisntit: nice try, but they are coming together at the ruination of children's education.

Union membership is never obligatory. I can choose to join my union and pay their dues or not and if I choose not to, I still receive all the benefits of their collective bargaining.
Funny coincidence, our realtor is here right now finalizing the paperwork to list our home. My wife and I have lived here for 31 and 26 years, respectively, and now California will have two fewer taxpayers to steal from.
so_cal_trojan_fan May 24, 2012 at 2:41 PM

The difference here is that the corporations aren't taking money out of the pockets of their employees to pay for these contributions. The dues paid by union members are paid on an obligatory basis, or in other words, the money is in fact taken directly from their pockets. Huge difference. What my boss does with the money he makes is his business, but if he is taking money out of my pocket, then we have a problem.
Hate to say it but by the turn of the next century, the US will be a socialist nation headed down the same road as Europe. I can only wonder what the people of that generation will think of those who let it happen. Only then will people truly understand what happens when you run out of other people's money.
You obviously never set foot in a classroom, never investigated the real charter school idea, and subscribe to the idea that success is a test. Too bad.
Teachers are overpaid..blah blah...unions are evil..blah blah...we need vouchers so we can give tax money to Catholic schools...blah blah

Read the author's bio. This is plainly a transparent shill for the Catholic church's desperate attempts to save their schools by attacking public education.
California is nothing more than a 3rd world country now - thanks to it's corrupt government.
I love how so many people become outraged when a group of individuals who have a common fiscal interest band together and spend a little money to promote their viewpoint and try to secure their financial futures and yet those same people make nary a sound when a large corporation, or group of large corporations spend a little of their money to do exactly the same thing....
I would have to amend the title of the article to "the second worst Union in America". Wisconsin teachers union had all of that, PLUS a choking mandatory insurance plan, that was charging schoold districts virtually double what private insurance companies were charging for health care. Guess where all that extra money went..
As it is policy by right wing think tanks who provide 100% of campaign funds to conservative interests as well as distribute propaganda deriding unions, your game is played out.
Oh this "journal" is published by the Manhattan Institute. That explains why it is utter garbage.
Fire all union teachers now!
What a lovely piece written by the 1%
WOW. What a fantastic piece of journalism highlighting how the Democrats and their Union cronies are shamelessly bankrupting California, financially and morally. "Robbing CA taxpayers to fill our own pockets, while denying the children of CA a solid education.' - the new tagline of the CA Democratic Party.
"In what sense is California overtaxed?" asks one poster below.

Those of us who live here can tell you. Combined, we are the highest or among the highest states in the US:

Our sales tax used to be 3% and is now over 9%, among the highest in the nation.

Our income tax is now over 9% at the tops rates, among the highest in the nation. (Texas does not even have one: Illinois just raised its tax to about 7%).

Our property taxes are--thank god-capped at 2% of a past assessed value which is the only thing preventing escalating property taxes from literally forcing out people on fixed incomes as they were in the 1970's. People who paid taxes for decades were being forced out of their homes.

We have an 18 cent per gallon gasoline tax.

The fee to appear in a a lawsuit is now 395. The fee to file a motion to dismiss is now 500 dollars!

California does not have enough money to pay for basic services, you say?

California had enough money until then Gov Brown decided to allow unionization of state employees. Now we have an unfunded liability for state pensions of over 400b.

We pay welfare at 70% above the national average: But we do not restrict welfare to 5 years as allowed by federal law--because we're so generous with other people's money. There is no time limit in California. So we pay and pay.

California has now decided to grant in-state tuition at the UC to illegal aliens.

Our prison guards get "walking time pay" to walk to their post from a parking lot. And 8 weeks vacation.

Our UC professors can retire at age 55,a after all those exhausting backbreaking classes. With a pension.

Our pensioned class has COLA adjustments.

Upwards of 80% of our CHP Officers retire on "disability," which hypes the pension. These are fine people to be sure, but they spend most days riding in patrol cars on a freeway.

Why is it that a 3% sales tax and a 4% income tax was enough in the glory days up to about 1970?

I could go on for days, but everyone that lives here knows our tax money is wasted, and we are indeed overtaxed.

More money is not needed for California: it need a blue pencil governor which we unfortunately did not elect.

Wow!!!!! Hopefully this is read by many people all over the USA. The CTA is North Korean.
How funny and ironic that "Russ2", who is "obviously" a CTA member, can't even spell or choose the right words in his reply ("there labor" should be "their labor" Russ).

These CTA members will take the state down with them rather than reform. I hope CA voters figure this out before it is too late.
California parents, specifically, white anglo double dippers my wife and I, and every one of our neighbors, ...are giving the kids whatever will shut them up, and ignoring them. they use the cell phones and ipads to network their plans for alcohol, drugs, and sex. They coordinate like commandos. Since the receive over a thousand texts per month from friends who will NEVER say "work harder" or "don't be dishonest" or "be willing to sacrifice" thier pain in the behind parents, they have all their needs for intimacy met. They have no desire whatsoever to please mom, or "make dad proud". We dumb laxy parents utterly demolished our children, and took the education system down with it. If you have any doubts about that, look at how well children of 2nd generation asian immigrants do. Unions and laws and Big Gov, ...will not solve this. We need to trow the tv in the trash and pay attention to our kids. My son almost died of an overdose. That woke me up. Good Luck guys, and get yer big behinds off the couch!
An excellent article that needs to be read by every voter in California.
In what sense is California overtaxed? We do not collect sufficient tax revenue to pay for the basic services our citizens demand.
Senek you are obviuosly a union buster. Yes education and unions need reform but your story is biased. How about some ideas on how to reform education and unions to preserve hard fought worker rights and higher educational attainment. That would be a story. The union and worker bashing is more about returning to the medieval ages where the oligarchs own everything and the peons work their land at whatever benefits the greedy see fit for there labor.
another shill for anti-labor pro slavery ALEC associated groups.

It must be nice to be paid by the Big Tobacco companies to spread lies and disinformation
Gilbato Estuarti May 24, 2012 at 6:55 AM
"As the union’s power grew, its ranks nearly doubled, from 170,000 in the late 1970s to approximately 325,000 today." You neglected to include helpful metrics with this like percent of totals, and numbers of student populations served. I have a feeling these didn't help your case so they were left out.

"Such pleas seem impudent coming from the highest-paid teachers in the nation ..." You neglected to mention how California rates amongst the 50 states for cost of living. It's CPI is only behind Hawaii and Alaska, so... I guess that's not important to you.

Let's play with the averages you like so much. The median home price in California is $330k. To save for a 20% down payment of $66k on the average $68k salary you listed with an average saving rate of 3.8%, it would take 25 years just to save enough to make the down payment. Since teachers are 'living large' on $66k/year for their bachelor degrees and post-graduate work, there must be others suffering too. And we'll just let the new homeowners subsidize property taxes for those who have held property longer because Prop 13 was perfect in its implementation. We can ignore the discussion too about how Prop 13 pushed tax revenues even further into a variable source that is more susceptible to economic shocks even though real estate doesn't move away.

You mention "... if two California teachers get married (not an unusual occurrence) ..." but neglected to mention what your measure for unusual is? What's the ratio of males to females in public education vs. the private sector? Are you saying there's a higher gay/lesbian marriage rate amongst teachers?

You mentioned "an average annual workload of 180 days" but neglected to translate that to a comparable hourly wage, effectively ignoring the thousands of off-the-clock hours teachers put in during the school year and the professional development they attend at other times. You also neglected to mention that the 180 days comes with an absence of personal vacation time, forcing teachers to always spend their vacations in the "high season" periods. Those in the private sector can take vacation time whenever they choose, and while some parents will elect to follow the same vacation schedules as schools, there's little to stop them from pulling their kids out of school for weeks at a time which affects the child's performance and affects metrics that already are used, or will be used in the future, for determining teacher effectiveness.

"The bill also forced public schools to prepare budget estimates that didn’t take into account the state’s downturn in revenues—meaning that schools could budget for activities even though there wasn’t money to pay for them."
You neglected to mention that school districts have been playing this game with the state for many years and many create tandem budgets in anticipation of state revenue shortfalls.

You neglected to define what an "underperforming teacher" would be.

Why not play out the politics of your union-less future: a good teacher is fired because some parent throws a hissy because their child isn't the star of that teacher's class, and so becomes a political pariah that no school would want to hire because they would have to defend the hire to concerned parents the result of which discourages new teachers from entering a profession with a low certainty of career longevity vs. education investment which in turn creates a market for a personal 'malpractice'-like insurance system (increasing pressure for higher pay to cover insurance costs); meanwhile politically-connected or well-regarded teachers jump ship to wherever the best pay is, abandoning smaller or poorer districts favoring only those who can afford them and provide the best work environment, becoming less aware of and part of the communities they work in along the way and increasing costs for those districts desperate to maintain high student achievement (yay! free agency!) all while taxpayers who are still burdened with the responsibility of providing for public education wonder why schools got much more expensive than they were under the, mitigated unionized environment.

There are so many other problems with your post. You neglected to cover the issue comprehensively. You neglect so much, I don't think you really understand what it takes to be a teacher or an administrator, how charter school funding rules work ... And why not offer some solutions with your limp critiques?

Have you considered that sometimes, just because someone else is throwing money at it, stuff doesn't get approved by voters (Meg Whitman for governor for example)? In other words, just because the CTA has money doesn't mean they're always wrong. Maybe there are some important points on the CTA side that, by your avoidance of and continued focus on throwing out the baby with the bathwater, you are sheltering yourself from and thus lessening the value of your voice in the discussion (except with those who are also threatened by the subtleties of the issues).

Or are you just trolling for page views? Cause if that's it ... success!
Fire them all. Every one.

Replace with vouchers for every child.
Paul Van Cleave says in part:

"The problem with the author's solution is that it lacks detail. It's all well and good to say that competition makes things better. In this case competition between charter schools and regular public schools. But charter schools are no magic bullet. Again, the press has documented charter schools that work and those that haven't."

What part of "Leave Us Alone to Select Our Own Schools" don't you understand?

Harvard was started by people without the state mandated "teaching credential," that allows a moron to teach politics in a California classroom, but bars every US President from doing so. Steve Jobs could not have legally taught an Intro to Business class. Must be that class in chair arranging. Of course, you're so fixated on nonsense, that is probably what you mean: "How can we assure the teachers all have a credential?"

The Unions always of course complain about the "details." It never enough for them to simply let their students go elsewhere.

Hence, when parents use the "Trigger" law to vote out a public school and install a charter, the School Administration and the Teacher's contest signatures, argue with parents who have kids in the school, and do their best to stop the shift.

Parents complain that incompetent teachers are ruining their kids: the teachers say its the parents' fault--but then say that lower class sizes, higher salaries and bigger pensions are needed lest we "sacrifice" the elusive quality at LAUSD that has a 50% drop out rate for some groups.

Teachers cannot be fired in LA any more than NY: they demanded and got from pliant administrators and Union backed politicians, a right to "tenure" after 2 years. Tenure! So we get teachers that abuse students, feed them unspeakable things as one was charged with doing (he resigned and kept his pension), but they are virtually unaccountable.

Volunteers? State Law prohibits volunteers from being used in any position that was once served by a paid employee. Gosh, I wonder who insisted on that law? And was it for the good of the kids?

LA's good private schools are run FOR the students not the teachers. That is the biggest difference between public schools and private ones.

Charter schools are not a "magic bullet?"

How would you know? Green Dot is better than LAUSD; watch where parents fight to get IN and not out: LAUSD is like east berlin. And LAUSD carries on a rear-guard fight against Charters. But almost every parent wants his kid in a charter and OUT from under LAUSD's dead hand. What do we have in the rich areas with vocal and influential parents? Pacific Palisades High School, for example: A charter.

Mr. Cleave would be asking for more "details" about the First Amendment if he had been there when it was adopted. "Its not a magic bullet. I need more details."

Free choice! Accountability! And no union to muck up the works. Things were fine in California Schools until unions arrived. They've gone down hill since.
This again just proves that unions are more harm then good, especially public unions. That all the more makes me want to vote for republicans.
Great Article. Big media won't cover it worth a darn since they are on the same side politically. Public unions are the foxes guarding the treasury. Their bosses are dependent on their vote so their boss has no incentive fight for the taxpayer or children. In the private sector the unions at least have an adversary who isn't beholden to them. A bad bad situation.
Paul Van Cleave May 23, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Wow. Basically a biased editorial piece trashing the union and teachers. I can't speak for the entire state, but having worked with Rosa Parks Elementary here in San Francisco, I know that balance budgets and teachers' and students' performance matters a lot. And what's that about not allowing layoffs. Every year teachers, principals, and administrators receive pink slips. This practice of layoffs and rehiring based upon seniority is well documented in the press.

Just like in any private company, human resources is the number one expense. Personally, I'm against larger class sizes and reduced salaries. Overall, I've been blown away by the quality and professionalism of Rosa Parks staff. They do a lot with limited resources. Together with parents, we have a fantastic school that make improvements everyday. Whether in academics, civic responsibility, or individual child development.

Certainly, Rosa Parks is not the only school in San Francisco to have improved over the past few years. Again, the press has well documented former, poor performing schools which have become very much in demand: Miraloma, Malcolm X, and Peabody to name a few.

The problem with the author's solution is that it lacks detail. It's all well and good to say that competition makes things better. In this case competition between charter schools and regular public schools. But charter schools are no magic bullet. Again, the press has documented charter schools that work and those that haven't. Where the rubber hits the road is with teachers (aka our human capital) and proven programs. At Rosa Parks, we are open about what our challenges are and what we are doing about them. These challenges and solutions are published on the district's website as our "Balanced Scorecard."

I believe that one of Rosa Parks strengths is it's openness and desire to engage parents and outside organizations. It's no surprise that these qualities are also found in many successful enterprises--whether public or private. Enabling people to be engaged in a meaningful way breeds success. Certainly, corporations understand that. And these same corporations have done a lot of good at Rosa Parks. CBS help build our outdoor classroom. PGE refitted our lights with low-energy bulbs and put a solar panel on our roof. Friends of the Urban Forest planted trees on our campus. Rebuilding Together with a San Francisco law firm helped build our school farm. The list goes on and on.

What Rosa Parks is doing is no secret and isn't easy. It takes hard work, cooperation, and frankly people with the right kind of skills and willingness to do it. I'm all for finding, nurturing, and investing in this human capital--not trashing it as the author does. I hope others see the good that our school is doing and replicate it in their own communities.
Even the second cartoon is so appropriate. After all, it should say "Fewer Chores".
All these articles about California going off the cliff are interesting, but the bottom line is that the rest of the country is already bailing them out. I heard not too long ago that every dollar that goes to the Feds from California, they get $1.75 back. I doubt at this point that even the
Republicans in Congress would oppose a bailout for California. We need to contact our representatives as much as possible and tell them that in no uncertain terms that if they want your vote, they need to come out and completely oppose ANY form of state bailout. Better start planting that seed now.
Public Unions are just the Mob Collection agency for the Democrat Party.

One would have to be brain dead not to recognize the inherent corruption in Democrat politicians rewarding unions with tax payers money in return for votes and money!

In fact, the Unions and their bought Politicians have been so greedy & corrupt they are bankrupting this Nation!
California the Golden state, Obama and the Democrats model for American future, is fast becoming the poster child for an bankrupt third world State!

An unholy alliance of Socialist Democrat politicians, Unions, and Illegal Aliens supporters are feasting like hogs at the trough of tax payers paid benefits while taxing & regulating business and the tax paying public into poverty.

The pandering of Left Wing Democrat Politicians to their constituency of Unions, Illegal Aliens and open border supporters, are driving business and citizens to other states & countries, while leaving the parasites & welfare leeches in an increasing bankrupt, crime ridden, dysfunctional state!

For years California has ignored economics 101 and imported Criminals, Uneducated Parasites, and poverty from Mexico, which increased Medical, Welfare, Crime, Prison, etc. & adding a estimated 22 billion per year to Calif. State expense to support the invading horde of Illegal Aliens while exporting business and educated tax payers.

Like all Socialist countries the results have been a astronomical increase in social welfare, schooling, prison cost etc. and a lowing of Living standards, Heath care, Education standards, Tax receipts & finally Bankruptcy.

The policies of Obama and Wash. DC Democrats are intent on following Calif. policies and Pro-Illegal Aliens, Pro-Unions and Anti-tax paying citizens and are endorsing the same socialist process of rewarding the Corrupt, Stupid, Foolish, Lazy, Greedy & Criminal while punishing the responsible, honest, law abiding & hard working citizens of American.

Failure to abide by our Constitution against invasion & enforce our Immigration laws and constraints on wages and benefits for public employees will result in turning the Golden State into MexiCalif and the end of the Calif. Dream and the beginning of the MexiCalif. Nightmare!

Amnesty & Citizenship as a reward for their invasion of the USA, with chain immigration will result in the rest of the USA turned into a Spanish speaking third world cesspool and follow California into a polluted, over populated, Spanish speaking, third world Slum of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Cruelly & Misery modeled on Mexico!

This will result in a population depending on Welfare and the Democrat party, thus assuring the lock on power for the Socialist Democrat party of the United States of Mexico!
And California wonders why the "producers" are leaving the state in droves taking their businesses (and income) with them.

Who do you loot when all that is left are looters?
Public employee unions should be outlawed, period. I used to think otherwise, but there is no other practical way to stop all this nonsense that destroyed the state.
should be required reading in all education faculties
should be required reading in all education faculties
I suggest California be taken to Bankruptcy Court and ajudged bankrupt, and that a conservator be appointed, to repudiate all public pensions, labor agreements, civil service rules, and all laws allowing any of those; to reduce public salaries by 50% and public payrolls by 30%; and to require all state and local positions be filled with qualified personnel, requiring inumbents to reapply to keep their jobs. AND get rid of both initiative and referendum.
Fabulous article, absolutely Fabulous!!!
Ironically, I am a forced member of the CTA and couldn't agree more with everything written in the article. I live in a pretty conservative area, 2 hours north of Sacramento. I am the only one in my district that has resigned from the union to get back the dues they 'donate' to a political party I feel is the very problem of most issues in California and the California school system. However, I have to apply every year to get my money back, and I still have to pay over %60 of my dues and lose most privileges of the CTA. It's just is so ridiculous. The CTA makes it hard to enjoy my job when it protects bad teachers, allows for no competition, and enables teachers and society.
The whole of this argument is based upon FALSE propositions and assumptions. Here are three.

One, CA citizens are over taxed. FALSE. CA citizens are under taxed. Proposition 13 has resulted in funds for and quality of public schools in CA declining from #1 in the country to the bottom 10.

Two, unions, especially teacher's unions are bad. FALSE. Compare the unionized schools in the New England states to the non-unionized schools in the South. On every criteria used, but football league statistics, the New England schools are superior.

Three, school voucher programs work and Charter Schools are better. FALSE. Everywhere there are charter schools funded by voucher programs, where the charter schools are required to accept the same students as the public schools, the public school students do better on tests, and the public schools cost less money to run.
This 'mob' attitude of protecting maximum income with minimum effort has griped the United States for the last 20 years. If left unchecked, it will bring us down as a nation.
I have been saying and writing this since 1985. Dems have ruled the CTA and the NEA is now the largest propaganda aparachek for liberal Dems in the entire USA. They are as bad as Quislings and just the last two days of two teachers berating two students who stood up against Obama shows this as an anecdotal example. Schools in the USA do far better in private hands as far as student performance and scores and govt. schools are now a disaster . I taught for nearly 48 yrs. in Ca., I needed the dough for my family and I was one of the few outspoken conservs in the community college dept. One cannot fathom how insulated teachers are with their captive pupils until one sees CTA-NEA in action. Arne Duncan is about the Wright-Ayers-Alinsky type that Bama and liberals love. But, that has nothing to do with pupil performance or understanding our American history , heritage or values. Nothing.
Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if all the former students who dropped out of school or were failed by the education system in Califormia filed a class action lawsuit against the union? one can dream...
I look forward to the day when the state of California declares bankruptcy, and the CTA sees its members pensions go up in smoke. What a corrupt, horrible organization.
Another problem with the flight of people from California is they bring their voting habits to their new states.

In spite of the disastrous consequenses of lefty polices in CA they tend to support Dems and vote for propositions that raise taxes and increase spending(always for the "children").

As an Arizonan I see a definite blue tilt to our state due in no small part to the new-comers fleeing places decimated by lefty policies.
Public unions have no place in America, period. Even FDR was against them.

Tax dollars -> state budget -> teacher salaries -> withheld CTA (and NEA and AFT) dues -> liberal lobby -> more tax dollars... vicious, destructive, suicidal circle. And the reason many states in the nation are in the deep debt holes in which they find themselves.

CA (nor any other state) will not exit this debt cycle as long as teachers and other public sector workers can collectively bargain - and as long as their dues are mandatory.
No hope. This is just a small part of the total failure of the USA. We are toast.
Samuel, you asked: "Where are the Republicans" and my answer would be: "Where are the voters." You rejected a wonderful business woman with outstanding credentials for another turn with Gov. "Moonbeam."
It's Californian doing it to themselves. Keep electing Democrats and nothing will change.
Wow,if ever there were ample cause to ban public workers unions, this is it. And we wonder why fewer than 50% of our minority students graduate from HIGH SCHOOL.
ThankYourLocalForYour40hrWk May 22, 2012 at 5:37 PM
FDR opposed the right of public sector unions to strike, not the existence of the unions themselves.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

112 - Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service
August 16, 1937
My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades "has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships." Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Unionize taxpayers
Very well researched - very well written. You can expect many, many CTA members to blanket your comments with venom. Good job.
Grotesque and infinitely depressing. And no exit.
"All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management."

President Franklin Roosevelt wrote the above in a letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937. It's warning has been ignored by his own party.

Public employee unions are not the "trade & labor" unions of the 1930's. They have became like Stalin's NKVD, the "secret political police". Paranoid, pernicious and perpetual until, in the fullness of time, they meet an overdue end. But not in the near future because they have turned CA's schools into education camps and their students into willing California voters for the unions.
Last chance for the children in CA; either the parents revolt or give it up. The politicians aren't looking out for the kids any more than the CTA. Parents might also think about which party they keep electing to office; just look at how well the Democrats run that state. How long do you all in CA want to be fools?
The problem is that unions are a monopoly protected by the Federal Government. Yes it is Federal law that only Unions can be a monopoly. The Clayton Act of 1914 exempts unions from anti-monopoly laws, enabling union officials to forcibly drive out independent or alternative employee bargaining groups. Unions are able to get away with forcing the auto companies into bankruptcy and destroy our kids education and future because they are not forced to compete like a business. This law must be changed. Instead unions should not be allowed to represent any more than 40% of an institutions members. That WILL fix many of the problems in this country.
Gimme. Gimme more — and keep those brats out of my hair or I'll sue this school.
Teachers are necessary to the future of any country; but the scum described here are NOT teachers. They should be fired wholesale; the union decertified and its leaders thrown in jail. Until the state is willing to apply strong measures it has no hope.
The problem is that UNIONS are costly, inefficient, and in the case of teachers unions, the members freely indoctrinate students to be liberal stooges like their teachers. They are failing our kids with their incompetent, politically motivated style of 'teaching'. No wonder our kids are stupid, can't figure their way out of a paper bag, can't read, do math, or even SPELL science.

Its time to get rid of all the costly, useless unions and let the market decide who works and who doesn't. Those who can teach without the politics get to stay, the rest can starve.

we've already seen how unprofessional todays UNION TEACHERS are, with the incident in NC:
and in Fairfax County VA, they've had 3 similar incidents where teachers were indoctrinating kids instead of teaching them. UNIONS MUST BE ELIMINATED!
Yes, yes, but did you vote in your own local school board election?
Fantastic article. Connecticut is in exactly the same situation- the CEA controls the Democrats who control the legislature. How on Earth we get out of this mess is beyond me.
Typical of the "Left" coast!!!
The CTA has traded a middling business proposition, good benefits, and a solid pension for less autonomy, accountability, and job satisfaction. Being a teacher today is hardly a good 'bargain' and the state leadership in education has been complicit in this, trading that same deal for an empty calorie educational curriculum, a middle management heavy budget scheme and piss poor results. Higher taxes wouldn't be an issue, if they meant better results, which they won't.
CTA spent over $200 million on politics in the decade prior to 2010. What should be an outrage to CTA members is that it was ONLY $200 million! That is a little more than 10% of their huge budget, where is the other 90% going?

Of course, it goes to a bloated CTA and NEA organization that has hundreds of very well-paid employees. It certainly does not go towards CTA labor negotiators or attorneys. Local CTA associations rely on teachers to do the heavy lifting on bargaining and negotiations teams, getting CTA negotiators only when absolutely necessary. Discipline cases and school site problems are handled primarily by teachers (stewards) instead of CTA attorneys (they only have 11 CTA attorneys on staff and actually say on their website that they would be too busy if CTA members were allowed to call them directly with questions...!).

California teachers pay about $1,000/year in union dues and 80% goes to CTA and NEA. Of the rest that stays local, a huge chunk goes to CTA and NEA anyway, in the form of conference and training fees for CTA and NEA events.

Teachers do have an alternative. They can decertify from CTA and be independent teacher associations.

Police, fire and many other public sector employees in California often do not belong to a big union, but rather pay much more modest dues to their local assoaciation, which uses those dues to hire labor attorneys and negotiators to handle the association's needs. There are certainly problems with California's economy and budget woes, but public employees did not cause the recession. Public employee associations that work collaboratively with the City, County or District they work for can and have been able to keep public services working despite the economy and the state government's ineptitude.

CTA, though, is simply sucking money from teachers without giving much in return, other than helping perpetuate a broken system statewide.
Public Unionism is an anathema to a free society. Every dime they extract for the "benefits" of their members, they do at the expense of public services.

In effect, they only make government more expensive. As they become more powerful, they also make government more corrupt.
It is hard to hang all of this on any political party, and this problem has been developing for decades. The Republicans dating back to the 70's have had the governorship more than the democrats. Changing democrats and increased entitlements have certainly hurt, but a change in the White House or in Sacramento (especially with term limits) or with the CTA will only solve part of the problem.
A comprehensive solution is required, which is not difficult. The difficulty is selling it!
Who is the top spender in California politics, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), ?

Who is bankrolling Governor Brown's tax hike initiative to raise California's already nation-leading high taxes?

Which union seems out of step with the California electorate? Which union spent over $11 MILLION in the 2010 election on ballot initiatives, but had an 11.6% success rate? In the classroom, this would rank an 'F'!

Which union has enough political power to frighten even California's Governor? According to Willie Brown (no relation), career Democrat, former California Assembly Speaker, and former Mayor of San Francisco ...

San Francisco Chronicle: "Jerry Brown won't challenge teachers union"

"No one knows the power of such unions in California better than Gov. Jerry Brown.

"You'll notice that even as he's proposed draconian cuts to health and welfare programs and the state's universities, and asked taxpayers to pony up extra for several more years, Brown has been careful not to touch teachers.

"He knows good and well what the California Teachers Association can do for him - or against him - in an election. And this year, he needs the union's help to pass his tax extensions."

Finally, where does this union get all that money? If you're a California taxpayer, it comes from YOU!
If anyone is concerned that the state will fail in its obligations to the retired teachers who are helping bankrupt it, don't be.

If President Obama gets a second term, be sure that he will find a way to bail out failing states and his union buddies in those states just as he did with General Motors.
Somebody once said that people deserve the govt. they elect.
Somebody else said that when people in a democracy realize they can vote to give themselves money, that is the beginning of the end of a democracy.
Greece is the ultimate poster boy of a political entity that spent and spent and spent and spent without a commensurate increase in production.
Well Greece fell apart yet the political "leadership" of California just continues sailing full speed ahead towards that iceberg.
In "The Matrix" humanity had been reduced to being nothing more than a food source for a machine.

As I read this article and though of the school children of California, I could think of no more fitting a metaphor for the current condition of California public schools.
California reminds me of the classic children's tale of the hen who couldn't get any one to help make the bread but had a line of helpers to eat it when it was done.

California is only an example of what will eventually happen to the entire country as a result of more than half the population paying no income taxes and voting for politicians who will confiscate money from others in order to buy their votes.

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money"
"Ask not what your TEA Party can do for you..." ~ DeepWheat
The people who destroyed this state are the people who vote. They vote for progressives. End of story.
People in the other 49 states, conservatives especially, scoff at California and at times seem to derive some satisfaction in its decline. That's a mistake. The transformation of one of our greatest states into a disintegrating single-party leviathan is can be viewed either as an object lesson or as a precursor of things to come for the rest of us.

What's happening to California is no joke. It's a tragedy. Its once beautiful and productive Central Valley has been reduced to something out of Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath', its businesses squeezed dry by onerous regulatory burdens and taxes, its communities rife with corruption and decay, its children uneducated, its adults giving up--leaving--or giving in, allowing themselves to be infantilized and reduced to a kind of benign serfdom.

Most bitterly and ironically, the biggest problem isn't the failed policies that have made California the dysfunctional polity it is today. The biggest problem is the unwillingness of Democratic Party leadership, both national and state, to acknowledge those policies--their policies--have failed.
What does anyone expect would happen? Why are 22 yr olds teaching anyone anything anywhere? Att 22 youre still a freaking child...
The Mexicans have won and California is nearly all theirs. This is what Democrats and Republicans have done to California. Anyone even remember Reagans Amnesty? Both parties want the power.
I have two children going through CA public school system, 14 years apart. The first time was worst, and the second is more worse. There were, and are, more lazy teachers than the good ones. The entire system is sickening. I had so much faith and respect for the public school system when I first arrived here 30 years ago but now I have none. Sad.
Don, their is a HUGE difference between a Trade Union and a Public Sector Union. Pull head out of butt now, k... All public sector Union should and could be banned.
As far as I'm concerned, I look forward to that terrible place sinking worse than Greece.
We Californian's are going nowhere but to the central nervous system of these entitlements and implode them in perpetuity. Mr. Sanchez? There will be no new taxes granted for education and in 24-36 months we'll all say who’s the CTA? But don’t be your usual stupid Mr. Sanchez; we aren’t counting on this at all. We are going to be assertively pushing you and yours out to sea. I can say with assurance that your time is up CTA and I do mean up.
Every single one of these Unionized Mobsters that have STOLEN Californias classrooms and handed them over to the Mob/Union should be fired and any benefits illegally gained are null and void. You have RAPED the Citizens long enough CTA.
why would anyone want to move or stay in cal?

i'd rather live in a pup tent in alaska in the moddle of winter than live in that dissaster of a state
Unbelievable and compelling piece. Fantastic work. City Journal, keep up the outstanding work.
B. Samuel Davis May 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Some thoughts:

1. This is yet more evidence of Democrat corruption - don't look to the Democrats to do anything here, since it would jeoparize an important source of campaign cash. But, where are the Republicans?

2. Look no further than the issues other than education which the teachers unions is engaged in - these are all Democratic Party causes, which shows you that the Union and the Democratic Party are one seamless whole. The Union is part of the Democratic Party and vice versa.

3. In short, this is corruption, plain and simple - a cozy arrangement under which the taxpayers get the shaft once again by the most corrupt organization on the planet - need I say it again? the Democratic Party.

4. Didn't anyone figure out that allowing unionization and allowing donations of what is essentially public taxpayer money is a bad idea? Why is no one, not even Republicans, even discussing taking away from the unions the ability to make campaign cotributions or be engaged in politics in any form.

5. Why has not a single Republican mentioned the problems with this arrangement? Don't they realize that the system that was created is poisoning the entire process?

6. But, of course Democrats are for campaign reform since it limits other means by which cash can be raised.

7. There really is no end to the misery caused by the Democrats - from the destruction of the black community for the last 50 years, destruction of education, and just about every other ill of our society can be blamed on the Democrats and Democrat media - drug abuse made acceptable by the Democrats, crime caused by the Democratic policies that caused the breakup of the family - I could go on and on -

8. This one institution - the Democratic Party -is a continuing curse on American society.

What else need be said? - this article says it all. What's above is context.

Where are the Republicans?
Don, how long has it been since a union label was any sign of workmanship or value for money? The reasons most union members today are government employees is that first, they vote in elections and contribute large amounts of money to campaigns; second, that the managers they deal with are spending taxpayer money, not their own; and third, that government generally operates as a monopoly in most of what it does so the customers are captive. Maybe the union you belonged to really did give you "good Union wages" but California schools exist to educate students as well as possible and not to pay teachers as well as possible.
Peter From Australia May 21, 2012 at 3:31 AM
The answer is simple, opt in union dues payments rather than opt out.

Also Unions must get approval at a secret ballot when funds are spent on political causes. Thirdly, no union should be allowed to doante to a political party in any circumstances. After all unions are not persons at law.
As someone who came from the lower depths of the American working class of the 30s and 40s, I can tell you from experience that even the worst Union is better than no Union at all. I rose from the working class into the lower reaches of upper middle class professionals, but I could not have done it at all save for several years of hard work in a Unionized job with very good wages, which gave me a considerable leg up for going to a first rate University in California. It is true that I studied hard and got excellent degrees that propelled me upwards into a prosperous and comfortable professional life, but my personal success rests on a bed-rock foundation of good Union wages, and I have never forgotten it, nor lost my gratitude and respect for the Trade Union movement. Solidarity forever!
One glaring error in your reporting. The faculty of Locked initiated the charter conversion, not the district. These same union members you so malign were the ones who voted for change.

And for the record, the academic performance of Locke as a charter is not noticeably different than of surrounding schools per the state test scores. Even Green Dot itself calls their work humbling. The glimmer of hope will be evident when folks stop looking for silver bullets and put in the real time, work, and resources to support all schools.
David Cameron -- I suspect you're likely to find that a lot of people will be leaving California for one of the other 49 "laboratories for policy" -- and taking their assets with them.

I fear that California may well have passed the tipping point. There aren't enough Facebooks to overcome the financial burden California has to deal with.
Ventura Capitalist May 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
In what now appears to have been California's last chance, Arnold kicked off those 2005 initiatives but did virtually nothing to campaign for them, hardly "taking his case to the people." The CTA and nurse's unions spanked him severely, after which he was a broken man.

Unless parasites are subject to some kind of restraint they will kill the host. Since this bit of unpleasant reality is incomprehensible to the unions and their prancing poodle democrats in Sacramento, California is doomed.
The prior candidate for Governor, Meg Whitman, noted during her campaign, that having Jerry Brown negotiating with the unions was akin to a vampire guarding the blood bank. She was right...he is the political whore of all time...and, the people here continue to cast their votes for their diminution. And, so it goes...What was it that Pogo said..."We've met the enemy...and it is us!".
The Greeks chose socialism and taxes, and they will soon get Zimbabwe. Californians voted in free and fair elections for socialism and taxes. Yes, the CTU is an evil empire, but voters are still allowed to vote. The beauty of our federal system is that we have 50 laboratories for policy.