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Monday, August 03, 2020

Billions Are Being Spent on Teachers Who Won't Teach: President Trump Can Change That

The Los Angeles Unified School District spends $18,788 per student. Its goal is to up that spending to $20,000. The mammoth LA school district is 7th in urban spending and has around half a million students. And the costs only went up after a United Teachers strike extracted a 6 percent raise.

Last year, LAUSD approved a $7.8 billion budget.

Governor Newsom demanded federal aid during the coronavirus and proposed moving over $4 billion in federal pandemic relief to the non-functioning schools.

"Cuts to funding at schools will forever impact the lives of children," Superintendent Austin Beutner warned. "The harm children are facing is just as real a threat to them as is the coronavirus."

Apparently cutting the budgets of closed schools is just as lethal as a pandemic.



"The notion that schools can continue to operate safely in the fall with a decreased state budget is not realistic," deputy superintendent Megan Reilly complained after a proposed 7% budget cut.

The schools are aren’t opening in the fall. Instead, LAUSD is staying closed. But it has piled up $200 million in "emergency coronavirus costs" from handing out free computers and internet.

What are those billion-dollar budgets buying now?

The Zoom classes managed to have only two-thirds of students logging in on any given school day. 40,000 high school students were not participating after school closures. That’s not surprising because the teachers’ union had reached an agreement that would avoid any pay cuts, would allow teachers to set their own schedules, free them from video lectures, and require them to work only 4 hours a day.

Meanwhile millions are being spent on protective equipment, not because LAUSD schools are teaching students, but because they’re open only to illegally use federal funds to serve food to the homeless.

And the situation at LAUSD is typical of the broken Democrat school model across the country.

It’s bad enough when taxpayers and parents were stuck with billion-dollar bills when there were at least functioning schools. Now struggling families are paying a fortune to subsidize Democrat activists who make their own schedules and might condescend to spend a few hours handing out class projects.

Don’t ask them to turn on their video or actually monitor the students they’re “teaching”.

“If schools aren’t going to reopen, we’re not suggesting pulling funding from education, but instead allowing families ... take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested.

That suggestion has been met with howls of outrage from the teachers’ unions. How dare the country’s top education official suggest that education funding should be used to teach children.

Under the current regime of pandemic closures, the entire system of school districts makes no sense.

If students are going to be taught online, then their geographic location only matters when they hit a time zone change. The massive burden of property taxes on local homeowners that has been used to fund the public education system through sweetheart deals with union activists has no reason to exist.

Those contracts were for teachers who showed up in classrooms to teach students. Democrat activists have negotiated with Democrat politicians to pay them a fortune to only occasionally teach online.

That’s not a good deal for anyone except the unions and the Democrat officials they’ve bought off.

Secretary of Education DeVos is correct. Education funding is meant to fund education, not homeless soup kitchens, which LAUSD considers more essential than functioning classrooms. That money doesn’t belong to unions or political bosses. It was extracted from taxpayers through a broken promise.

Parents have the right to pull that money from school districts and use it to educate their children.

That can mean finding private schools that are willing to open up for in-person learning, it can mean competitive distance learning at private and public schools around the country, or it can mean homeschooling through pods. Or any learning that meets curriculum requirements.

The public education system was broken badly before. Now it effectively doesn’t exist.

The system, at every level from elementary through college, has shed what few standards it had, while maintaining ridiculously inflated expenses of tens of thousands per student for teaching zoom classes.

Competitive alternatives could easily offer individual students more instruction time, more access to teachers, and more personalized instruction for a fraction of the money that is being spent today.

School districts react hysterically to both budget cuts and proposals to reopen. But they can’t have it both ways. They protest that the infrastructure must be maintained, even as they insist that they have no idea when they’re going to be able to use it again. They argue that, unlike every other profession, it’s vital to keep teachers employed, even when they’re really not doing anything useful.

While so many people who want to work are losing their jobs, why should some government employees who won’t do their jobs be immune from economic realities because of their political power?

The answer is political corruption.

Municipal unions have gotten away with murder because they’ve had their fingers on a vital service. Mess with them and they can turn out the lights, stay home when the fires break out, or force you to keep your kids entertained at home. Pandemic closures have entirely neutered that last threat.

The pandemic emergency has created an education emergency. And the public school system is unable and unwilling to meet that crisis because of its cronyism, corruption, and general incompetence.

President Trump has the opportunity to help parents meet that education emergency by taking executive actions that will empower private schools, homeschoolers, and the more functional elements of the public school system to step forward and competitively meet the needs of students and parents.

The public health emergency has created an education emergency that President Trump can solve.

If a public health emergency can be used to confine millions of people in their homes, to close countless businesses, to suspend the Bill of Rights, and even to ban husbands and wives from sharing a bed, it can certainly be used to redirect education funding from systems that aren’t teaching to those that are.

It’s either that or go on giving billions to broken districts like LAUSD where the teachers might show up for 4 hours of work and some of their students might occasionally tune in to do the work.

In the old public school system, teachers pretended to teach and students pretended to learn. Now no one is pretending anymore. The teachers aren’t teaching and the students aren’t learning. The big expensive buildings are standing empty, the school supplies are going unused, and the endless layers of administration serve no function except to draw six figure salaries. It’s time to end the charade.

The billion-dollar boondoggles were not created to maintain themselves which is all they’re doing now.

America’s students deserve better. So do the taxpayers who have funded this mess. The public education system has shut itself down. It’s time to build a new flexible system that can handle the stresses of the pandemic and deliver results without holding students and parents hostage to unions.

President Trump can take the first step by breaking parents and students free of broken districts and shuttered schools by putting federal education funds at the disposal of parents during this emergency. Voucher programs have already been successfully implemented in many states, especially in districts with underperforming schools, and a pandemic voucher program would offer flexibility and results.

Parents would be able to enroll their children in the distance or in-person learning options that work for their families. A competitive educational environment would adapt to the challenges much more readily and provide better value for students. And the failing public school system would have an incentive to improve. The alternative is wasting billions on schools and teachers who refuse to teach their students.





Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.


10 comments:

  1. Is there an upside to the teachers refusing to teach? Maybe it won't have an effect on the spread of coronavirus, but it may help prevent the further spread of communism. If that's true, then we can only hope all of America's university professors stay home also.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A huge portion of my property tax goes to two local school systems. If they along with many municipal services are not functioning, then where is my tax rebate?

    Trump should demand they return to work or fire them like Reagan did with the air traffic controllers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous3/8/20

    As a teacher, and like the happy few still in my profession, serious about education, I have taken a job teaching in person 20 students for the coming year, since of course my school has been shut down. My salary is paid by the parents, and they are very happy to now have their children learn actual knowledge, instead of the usual pc pablum I have been forced to teach in the public schools. And no, I will not be using the 1619 "Mod."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous3/8/20

    Great point; Trump CAN replace rotten schools,
    teachers, unions. He’s also restored law, order,
    justice to cities, prosperity to our business
    and industry, optimism to Americans. What magic?

    Following the Constitution as intended to empower
    citizens and shrink oppressive government.

    Charlie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very well written. Hope schools are fixed as you suggest.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If teachers refuse to teach and schools don't open...why WOULD they get their funding? But despite this encouraging headline, we all know the funding will still flow like buttermilk. I love Trump but nobody is going to stop school funding even if schools aren't operating.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am in CA, SoCal to be precise although not in LA City or County. I have been regularly e-mailing to President Trump to not supply federal funds to the state. The state is imploding under the weight of socialism. The best each of can do is to commit economic warfare upon the state. I can do this because I am not beleaguered by the state.

    Parents must remove their children from the clutches of the state. This current debacle created by the unions and sympathetic politicians - which is to say nearly all - has put a spotlight on the myriad troubles incurred by the state and hopefully has ignited a passion in the adults to take up their responsibilities as citizens.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous3/8/20

    Privatize the schools letting teachers who want to work from home open private schools for those who want to learn at home and then rent out the empty school buildings to groups of teachers who want to provide a traditional education to those who want it.

    No need for a large administrative overhead. Nobody is forced to do or not do anything. Vouchers go to parents who can make the best choice for their children. Competition breeds excellences. Monopoly breeds mediocrity.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Glenda Lock3/8/20

    Trump had that golden period between 2017 and 2018 to get such obvious initiatives firmly put in place.
    Reagan dealt with the air traffic controllers , as these appalling lefty unions ought to have been. Nobbled and imprisoned.
    The left tend to win power and cultural influence because the RINOs insist on bringing letter openers to knife fights, spud guns to the wars.
    Trump deserved much more support, a flawed vessel but his instincts are largely correct.
    Especially culturally and nowhere more significant than so called education.
    Should have scorched Berkeley when the likes of Milo were violently attacked.
    Probably too late now, but the voucher idea is good. Thomas Sowell for the next Cabinet , if we can keep the Nasties out of power in November.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous8/8/20

      Reagan was not nobbled as Trump has been constantly since election. I strongly doubt that he has managed to get even 10% of his aimed legislation through and into action and the loss of the house never helped. Education was second only to Law in the communist takeover of the west and the rot has been apparent since the 1990s but took off totally in the last 10 years. These "teachers" are political indoctrinators, not teachers and even the basics of education they cannot handle nor pass on.

      Delete

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