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Teacher's Union Deception - Propaganda to Get More Money

At 7:30pm my home phone rang. It was one of those irritating robot calling machines that plays a recorded message. This one was from my kids government school and the Superintendent was telling me to ask California politicians to not make cuts in K-12 schools. (See script here). I was shocked that the school was using the contact number I had provided to locate me in the event of an emergency with my child to push a political position. At the same time I see email from the PTA who is working with teachers begging parents to engage in an "Emergency Campaign" to "Save California" by passing out flyers the school would produce and joining protests. It became clear that there was an organized political campaign underway and school resources were being used.

Citizens give money to schools to educate children NOT to lobby politicians. Under California law, including Education Code 7054, school districts are strictly prohibited from engaging in political advocacy using public resources. School districts cannot use school computers, telecommunication services, offices and personnel for political purposes. Yet that is what was happening.

I decided to get involved. Under the rights afforded by the California constitution, I submitted a CPRA (California Public Records Act) request for documents related to the the robo-calls they made and contacts with the CTA.

They quickly sent me a couple of documents. I learned that more than 5,000 parents had been bombarded with the political message. I also got the script of the robo-call demanding no more budget cuts. I sent a follow up letter to the board and Superintendant showing that our school district has seen a major INCREASE in our budget.

Additionally, I sent another letter demanding they immediately cease political lobbying activities. James Peabody, the Superintendent, responded that they "will not send out any more messages from the district that asks for action." He also said his intent was to provide "fair and impartial information to parents about the budget."

At my kids school well meaning parents were passing out a deceptive flyer authored by the CTA (California Teachers Association which is the teacher's union). The flyer screamed that $20 billion has been cut from schools and 30,000 teachers have been lost. It also called for politicians to extend expiring tax hikes so schools would get more money. I researched the facts and the data used in the flyer is completely deceptive designed to mislead people into thinking that schools have been ravaged by cuts.

Everything I have seen or heard from the district has been wholly deceptive designed to perpetuate the myth that school budgets have been ravaged and teachers sent to unemployment lines. I followed up with Peabody and the school board providing FACTS that showed the Del Mar school budget has grown 46% during the time my children have been in attendance and per student spending has grown EVERY year from $8,000 to $10,000. (I got most of the data from the district's own web site.)

The number of credentialed teachers in CA has NOT changed over the last 3 years. It's true about 15,000 teachers a year retire because teachers have a luxurious retirement program which pays 5-10 times what citizens get with Social Security and Medicare. But new teachers have been hired to replace them. There have been about 300,000 credentialed teachers working for government K-12 schools over the last 3 years.

K-12 school budgets have also NOT been cut $20 Billion over the last 3 years. When you include retirement money promised to teachers and administrators, the money spent on schools over that time period has gone up. There have been cuts of 5.6% or about $4 billion in the operating budget over this time period, but total money citizens are paying to educate their children has gone up not down by $20 billion.

I scanned in the teacher's union flyer and made corrections to their document with data from publicly available reputable web sites. You can see the flyer here:

I don't fault the teacher's union for trying to get more money for teachers - that's what they're paid to do however they should not resort to deception to achieve this goal. It's important to note that the teacher's union doesn't represent the interest of the children in spite of their "Protect our children" campaigns. They are pushing for even shorter school days when every research report has shown that longer school days benefit kids.

The School Board is supposed to protect the interests of parents and kids but too often they do not because they are heavily influenced, if not outright bought, by the political campaign donations of the CTA which get them elected. I informed our local school board of the illegal actions of school district employees using school resources to lobby politicians. I received a non-sensical response from the school board President which looks like a form letter. Another board member sent a more engaged response asked for more background data on my numbers which I provided her. But I was left wondering if the board asked the CTA to back up their outrageous numbers? Why are they not policing the situation? Don't they understand their job is to look out for the interest of parents and kids and not get hoodwinked by the teacher's union?

I have yet to get an official response of documents about the district's interactions with the teacher's union but I have seen some documents provided by some teachers who are disgusted with how their own Union is perverting the situation and putting teacher's interests ahead of kids. I will report more once I get documents from the CPRA request I submitted.

--MR
michael@michaelrobertson.com

P.S. Chris Reed, a radio talk show host on KOGO talks about this situation. Download the audio file and fast forward to 11:37 to hear what he had to say.

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