CALSTRS BITES APPLE!

But who has hurt California kids more?

Apparently the board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) worries that Apple’s smartphones negatively impact child development. Presumably there will now be a lot of research on that subject. But no research is needed to prove this point: Child development in California is being negatively impacted by exploding pension costs that prevent school districts from hiring enough teachers and paying them sufficient wages. Look what has happened to the San Francisco Unified School District:

SFUSD doesn’t have enough money to attract and retain teachers because spending on pensions and other retirement costs more than doubled over the last five years, as explained here. Los Angeles Unified is in the same boat, as illustrated below and explained here:

Los Angeles Unified School District

The costs of meeting unfunded pension obligations are stripping California classrooms bare. That’s because CalSTRS’s board hid the truth. In 2005 CalSTRS was warned that it was hiding the real size and cost of pension obligations and that if not addressed at that time, classrooms down the road would be decimated by pension costs. All CalSTRS’s board had to do was tell the truth and act accordingly. But it chose another road and classrooms today are paying the price.

One result is that California’s gross spending per student is high but poor and minority students in states like Texas that spend less perform better. That’s in large part because tax dollars are being diverted to obligations hidden by CalSTRS’s board. Governor Brown just announced that the state expects to spend more than $16,000 per student in the next budget year yet SFUSD, LAUSD and other school districts will still not hire enough teachers and pay sufficient wages because so much of that money will go to unfunded pensions.

Math is inexorable. CalSTRS couldn’t hide the truth forever. But — in the absence of reform — there’s worse to come. No one has hurt California kids more than CalSTRS’s board. Legislators and the governor need to step up.

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