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In recent years California has raised per-pupil education spending about 50 percent, to $13,000 a year. As Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee shows, despite this increase, “national academic testing has found that California’s students rank near the bottom in achievement.” The response of the state’s education establishment is to attack the tests. As Walters notes, Governor Jerry Brown and other politicians “have strangled the test-based accountability system that California adopted in the late 1990s.” Also, the California Teachers Association “despised a system that not only graded schools on how well they were improving academic achievement, but provided the basis for ‘parent trigger’ actions to seize control of ill-performing schools. Nor did the CTA like the potential for using the data to judge teachers’ competence.”
But the CTA is getting what it wants. Brown is pushing a Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) that gives extra money to districts with high numbers of English learners. As Walters notes, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, “a close ally of the CTA, told school districts they could spend LCFF money on teacher salary increases, countermanding a directive from his own staff.”
In similar style, low academic performance is no barrier to pay increases for education bureaucrats, such as Steven Martinez of the Twin Rivers District in the Sacramento Area. His recent 8.3 percent increase boosted his pay to $260,000. The deputy superintendent and the two “associate superintendents” also get more than $200,000, plus generous benefits. But salaries are not the only issue. Diana Lambert of the Sacramento Bee writes that the Twin Rivers district and its allies have now paid off former deputy superintendent Siegrid “Ziggy” Robeson to the tune of $300,000. She had supervised the Twin Rivers police department, under fire for “police brutality, false arrest and towing an excessive number of cars for profit.” Twin Rivers has been shoveling out money in a series of legal settlements, including $400,000 to former facilities director Jeff Doyle and $150,000 to former director of visual arts Sherilene Chycoski.
Deputy superintendent Bill Maguire, salary $239,000, explains that mistakes were made and that the district needs to “hold firm in the interest of the children.” For taxpayers the lesson is simple. When tabulating the cost of government, always account for compound waste in the government monopoly education system.