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“Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in his January State of the State address. “If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.”
Bad news, governor: California is already failing its children. And it wasn’t always this way.
According to RAND Corp., as late as the 1970s California’s public schools still had an “excellent” reputation. Then, in 1975, Brown (in his first stint as California’s governor) signed the Rodda Act, giving government unions the power to take money directly out of government employees’ paychecks.
The California Teachers Association quickly poured this new revenue stream into an organizing drive, more than doubling the union’s ranks. The Golden State’s politics have never been the same since — nor has the quality of its public schools. Between 2000 and 2010, the CTA spent more than $211 million to influence California voters and elected officials. That is more money than the oil, tobacco and hospital industries combined. . . .
At an average salary of $69,434 per year, a family of two teachers would bring in almost $140,000 in income per year. That is almost triple the state’s $57,000 median family income — and teachers get summers off.
But all of that money for teachers salaries hasn’t helped students in the classroom. By 1992, the first year for which state-by-state comparisons are available, California ranked second to last among states tested (ahead of only Mississippi), in reading proficiency among fourth-graders.