Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Teachers' Unions Vehemently Oppose School Reform and Charter Schools ... Meanwhile, We the People Have Been MIA, and the Teachers' Unions Like It That Way

Keenan posted today about the charter school issue in the state of Washington and how the teachers' unions have prevailed in that state's court. The ruling by the court denied parents and their kids the right to choose where to attend public schools with taxpayer money. Let's discuss the bigger and broader issue herein.

Have you ever wondered why teachers' unions universally oppose parental control, school choice and charter schools? And why they totally support requiring kids, especially urban kids, to remain enrolled in failing public schools. Well, you need wonder no more. It's the money, Stupid!

For the teachers' unions, it's an issue which is simply about money and control. That is, they want to be the ones taking the money from taxpayers and then controlling how it's spent. And the basic idea is to spend as much as possible of it on the teachers and the union officials.

And now in large part it's about having enough money to pay teachers and their union dues, as well as paying and funding outsized pensions for the teachers.

The teachers' unions are able to accomplish that feat by securing votes for local and state Democratic politicians. It's a 'together' thing.

Chicago School Seek State Cash as Crunch Looms is subtitled 'Officials warn of deep cuts ahead if Illinois, facing its own fiscal crisis, doesn't pony up $480 million in coming months:'

"The nation’s third-largest public school system is set to open Tuesday without enough money to make it through the school year . . . .

The school board warns of deep cuts later this year if Illinois, which faces its own fiscal crisis, doesn’t deliver an additional $480 million in the coming months, representing roughly 8% of annual district spending.

“It is like the board is a desperate gambler at the end of their run,” said Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, in a recent speech.

. . . pressures remain for some districts struggling with challenges like Chicago’s and other issues, including increased competition from charter schools.

While the Philadelphia school district is no longer at risk of opening late as in past years, it continues to face uncertainty about state funding. . . . Detroit’s public schools remain under stress, as do other large districts in Michigan . . . .

The troubles in Chicago are among the most severe nationally as ballooning pension payments come due and officials run out of one-time fixes. The three major ratings firms in recent months have cut the credit rating of Chicago schools to junk, and bond investors are demanding much higher interest rates to hold district debt.

“We are really now at a point where further cuts would reach deep into the classroom,” said Forrest Claypool, who was named chief executive of the city schools in July.

Since 2011, the school board has made nearly $1 billion in cuts—including $200 million this year that involved eliminating 1,400 positions, mostly through layoffs. Enrollment declines, due to shifting demographics and Chicago’s shrinking population, have led to school closings, including nearly 50 elementary schools in 2013 alone. . . .

The district’s pension costs have more than doubled in recent years after the board took a partial “holiday” for three years from paying the amount needed to put the retirement system on a path to long-term solvency.

At first, the board drained reserves and paid off old debt with new, but those options are running out. The district also is raising property taxes as much as it can under a state cap....

That has left the schools to look to lawmakers in Springfield, the state capital, for help. District officials point to falling state funding, particularly for districts with students in poverty, and a teachers retirement system in which state government picks up pension costs for all communities except Chicago.

Democratic legislative leaders and GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner are deadlocked about how to fill a projected $5 billion shortfall in the state’s own budget. The Illinois Senate has passed legislation that would address the hole in the Chicago school budget through a combination of new state dollars and lowering what the district has to pay toward pensions in the near term. But the House hasn’t yet heard the bill and it is unclear how it would be funded."

Summing Up

For more timely 'back-to-school' news, another good read today is The Judges Who Stole Free Choice. The editorial is subtitled 'A court rejects a voter-passed charter law in Washington state, and it's a nice adder to Keenan's post today on school choice.

My question is simply this: will We the People ever take charge?

Or will we continue to play 'screw the kids and their futures' by deferring to the self-interested and joined-at-the-hip Democratic Party and teachers' unions?

In the end, it's our choice and not theirs, although we certainly haven't been acting that way.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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