California Pension Crisis and Teacher Unions


Teacher union officials’ greed has led some schools to have to extract money from their budgets in order to fund teacher retirements. This action adds to the pile that belies their claims that all for the students. A headline on this morning: Sacrificing Children for Tax Cuts, Senate GOP Leaders Unveil Health Care Bill. Then there is NEA president Lily Eskelson’s iconic statement from the latest Convention, “We have the power and they know it.”

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Schools across California are on increasingly shaky financial ground. The state has long been struggling with pension shortfalls in its CalSTRS teacher retirement system. With no viable solution in sight, underfunded pension programs are beginning to dip into school budgets, forcing draconian cuts to those most in need of the extra services that money provides, such as subsidized breakfast and lunch. Experts agree that all is not lost, but the state is quickly running out of time to find an effective solution that will not cause great hardship to the millions of children who rely on public education.

Powerful unions created the problem

Most experts agree that the root of the current budgetary crisis being seen throughout California’s public schools is, at least in part, the result of a pernicious combination between Democratic-led governments, on both the state and local level, and the state’s powerful teacher’s union, which has been generally unwilling to compromise on benefits for its members. This has resulted in many districts, in order to cover current liabilities, being forced to increase the amount of money taken from current employees’ paychecks, even amid drastic cuts to local school districts’ budgets.

The report found that most of California’s public schools will need to begin making severe operational cuts within three years, if current pension terms are not renegotiated and big hits accepted by the teacher’s union

Throughout the state, the extreme cuts seen in the San Bruno district are poised to take place at many more districts. With pension liabilities now exceeding 25 percent of payroll costs, the teacher’s union may finally be forced to come to heel, at risk of the total collapse of public education in the state.