Say you run an association whose members receive $70 billion per year from California’s government. Would you try to influence voters? Sure you would.
CTA is one such association. Its members are the beneficiaries of that $70 billion per year, which constitutes the lion’s share of $95 billion being spent this year on public schools in California. But CTA wants more. That’s why they’re targeting charter schools, which are public schools that aren’t required to hire CTA members. Lately, CTA has been running radio ads to falsely convince voters that public charter schools are hurting public school funding when the real cause is exploding pension and other retirement costs. Spending on retirement costs by many California school districts more than doubled over five years.
Consider San Francisco, where I live and hear CTA’s misleading ads on a regular basis. San Francisco Unified School District is diverting nearly $100 million to retirement costs this year, more than twice the amount it is devoting to charter schools. While SFUSD’s spending on charter schools serves ~6000 public school students, its spending on pensions and other retirement costs serves zero students.
These are the facts: Schools spend more on retirement costs than on charter schools. Spending on charter schools educates public school students. Spending on retirement costs does not. The press and legislators must continue to call out lies whenever asserted, whether by Donald Trump, CTA or anyone else.
Here’s another fact: California is spending $16,000 per K-12 student this year. But not all of that money reaches classrooms, in large part because of retirement costs. One Southern CA district saddled with a 144 percent jump in retirement spending was able to boost spending on active teacher salaries only 5 percent. School board members and state legislators have the power to change that outcome.