As Democratic contenders vie to secure the teacher union endorsement, they constantly try to outdo each other. In April, we reported that Kamala Harris wants to give every teacher in the country a $13,500 raise. Now Bernie Sanders is attempting to one-up her. As CNN reports, he has “a comprehensive 10-point agenda that calls for the end of for-profit charter schools, creates a salary floor for public school teachers, guarantees free school meals for all students and expands after school and summer school programs.” He also thinks that funding inequities need to be addressed.
However Just Facts’ James Agresti has many issues with the Sanders plan. For example,
Sanders also claims that “in America today, most school districts are funded out of local property tax revenue, resulting in unconscionable inequalities.” In reality, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that only 36.4% of all public school revenues come from local property taxes.
Sanders’ statement was true more than half a century ago, but since then, state governments have paid a growing share of the education expenses of low-income school districts in order to equalize their funding with higher-income districts.
Consequently, school districts with high portions of non-white students have spent about the same amount per student as districts with mostly white students since the early 1970s. This is confirmed through studies conducted by the left-leaning Urban Institute, the U.S. Department of Education, Ph.D. economist Derek Neal from the University of Chicago, and the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Teachers carrying guns in school? It’s a very controversial subject. In Florida last month, more than a year after the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida’s governor signed a bill that allows teachers to pack heat at school. There are stipulations: School districts must approve and it is voluntary. Participants are required to undergo a background check, a psychiatric evaluation, and attend a gun-safety training course with a sheriff’s office.
While many think this is a terrible idea, John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, thinks teacher carry is important. Citing a new study which looked at all the school shootings of any type in the United States from 2000 through 2018, he found,
During these years, Utah, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and parts of Oregon allowed all permitted teachers and staff to carry, without any additional training requirements. Other states leave it to the discretion of the local superintendent or school board. As of December 2018, more than 30 percent of Texas school districts let teachers/staff have guns. And in September 2018, Ohio teachers were carrying in over 200 school districts.
Carrying in a school is no different than in a grocery store, movie theater, or restaurant. Seventeen million Americans have concealed handgun permits — which is 8.5 percent of the adult population outside of permit-unfriendly California and New York. Nobody knows whether the person next to them might have a gun, unless it happens to be needed.
We found 306 cases of gunshots on school property, 48 of which were suicides. Not counting suicides, 193 people died and 267 were injured in these incidents. Four cases were simply instances of accidental gunshots by police officers.
The rate of shootings and people killed by them has increased significantly since 2000. The yearly average number of people who died between 2001 and 2008 versus 2009 and 2018 has doubled (regardless of whether one excludes gang fights and suicides).
This increase has occurred entirely among schools that don’t let teachers carry guns.
Mike Antonucci has written an informative piece on education spending. Using Census Bureau figures, he explains that in fiscal 2017,
The United States spent $610 billion on K-12 public education and an additional $84 billion of debt and capital outlay, for a total of $694 billion. California spent $76.5 billion and had $70.5 billion in outstanding debt. Los Angeles Unified spent $8.7 billion and had $10.5 billion in outstanding debt.
To make those numbers a little more manageable: The average spent per pupil in the U.S. was $12,201, in California, $12,143, and in Los Angeles, $13,549.
On average, the U.S. spent $7,053 per pupil on employee salaries and $2,972 on benefits, for a total of $10,025 in compensation. That amounts to 82.2 percent of every dollar spent.
To learn more, go here.
Also on education spending, all of California had its eyes on Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, where voters went to the polls to vote on a parcel tax measure put on the ballot by the Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD and the United Teachers of Los Angeles were fairly confident of Measure EE’s passage, primarily because people generally sympathized with teachers during their six-day strike in January, and a recent poll showed that 82 percent of Angelinos think we need to invest more in education. Additionally, while the final numbers will not be released till next month, the measure’s proponents outspent the naysayers by a wide margin, with unions spending very heavily. UTLA alone donated $500,000 to the cause.
But the measure, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, didn’t even come close. In fact, it only received 46.2 percent approval.
To learn more, go here.
On a similar note, Mike Antonucci wades through “31 years of California school funding claims.” His conclusion: “If we have learned anything in the past 31 years, it is that the “crisis in school funding” is an eternal one — and completely unaffected by how much money we spend.”
To read Antonucci’s piece, go here.
Some good news on the school choice front. Charter schools can breathe a little easier for now as two bills that were poised to become law were deep-sixed in the California legislature. AB 1506 would have frozen the number of charter schools, allowing only those in existence at the end of this year. A new school could open only if another closed. Additionally, the more draconian SB 756 would have placed a moratorium on any new schools whatsoever until Jan. 1, 2022.
But, two other bills, AB 1505 and AB 1507, are still very much alive. AB 1505 would knock out the appeals process. As things stand now, if a charter is turned down by a local school district, it can appeal to the county and then the state. AB 1507 would make it difficult for a charter that is having trouble finding a facility to locate in a neighboring district. These bills both passed in the State Assembly and now continue on to the Senate. The recently released report from California’s Charter Task Force, made up of charter, district and union leaders, was mixed on these issues – it recommended preserving the appeals process, but asserted that districts should be prohibited from authorizing charter schools located outside district boundaries.
To read more, go here.
The Janus case was decided almost a year ago, freeing teachers and other public employees from having to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. But the lawsuits haven’t stopped. In addition to some teachers challenging the brief window period many unions have set up for them to quit, other teachers are suing for “retroactive relief.”
A class-action lawsuit filed on the behalf of nine government worker plaintiffs and a class of more than 2,700 workers seeks to force unions to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in agency fees paid by thousands of workers nationwide prior to the Janus ruling.
"We're putting the band back together," Liberty Justice Center President Patrick Hughes told Fox News. "The argument is once something is deemed to be unconstitutional [in the civil context] -- agency fees -- then they're deemed to be retroactively unconstitutional. ... We're taking the position that those fees should be refunded to those nonmembers."
To read more, go here.
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