One of the most disturbing results of an adult-focused public education system is the constant focus on money. There is an insatiable thirst on the part of Big Labor to constantly increase spending on public education, because the teachers’ unions are mostly concerned with their pensions, paychecks and the union coffers.
Unlike workers in the private sector who have had to accept wage and benefit concessions just to stay employed, the teacher unions use the collective bargaining process to demand lavish health and pension benefits, annual automatic pay raises (regardless of classroom performance), sick day buyouts and many other costly benefits that send school budgets reeling into red ink.
For teachers’ unions, it is all about the money. A protester we encountered at a pro-tax increase rally last year in Springfield, Illinois underscored the point. "Where is the money?" she asked as she rubbed her fingers together. "Save our children! Give up the bucks! Where's the cash? We need it fast," she said. Of course she does, or she may need to take a pay freeze or start contributing to her pension plan. She was saavy enough to work children into her demand.
The unions and the education establishment judge Americans' value of public education based on how much we're willing to spend. Americans, on the other hand, are beginning to question what they're getting for all this money they are "investing."
Consider this: From 1980 to 2007, the U.S. increased K-12 education spending by a whopping 571 percent (from $101 billion in 1980 to $581 billion in 2007). That works out to over $10,000 per student per year.
All that money must have increased learning, right? Afraid not.
Every year, college-bound high school seniors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SATs) to assess “academic readiness for college.” From 1980 to 2008, the average SAT score for critical reading stayed absolutely flat (502 to 502), while the average SAT math score climbed from 492 to 515 – an increase of just 4.6 percent.
Even the left-wing Center for American Progress published a report concluding that there isn’t much of a correlation between spending and student achievement.
But as 'Give Up the Bucks!' reveals, unions have become the virtual pirates of public education, looting the ship even as it is going down.
The question you should ask is: who is benefitting from all those education dollars? The answer will likely shock you.